By Yin Yot, CCP Work Study Student, ARW Project Leader Assistant
The first community kitchen of the year was a powerful experience. This was the first one I had ever attended, and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect going into it. I walked in armed with a tupperware, a hair tie, and an empty stomach.
We were lucky enough to have Chef Johl of NishDish to introduce us to the Three Sisters stew, and share some of its teachings with us. Johl also shared the story of how he came to open the NishDish restaurant, which serves Indigenous foods and aims to foster a community around their reclamation of food.
We were also introduced to the very important and thought-provoking topic of food sovereignty, and of how food is one of the many things that were forcibly taken away from the Indigenous peoples. Johl shared with us how he is trying to rediscover these stories and recipes and foods now. I was deeply moved by his story, and his passion for what he does – aside from being a phenomenal story teller, the emotion is palpable in his voice when he speaks, and it draws you in.
It was a very different kind of learning to the static form that dominates our classrooms. Something about physically chopping the squash, chopping the beans, and shucking the corn grounded the histories of the ingredients and the dish in a way that made the telling all the more poignant.
I will not attempt to retell what was covered, as it is not my story to tell and I know I could never even hope to do it justice, but Johl has done an interview with Vice regarding the history of Bannock bread, if anyone reading this is curious.
While waiting for the stew to finish cooking, we had the opportunity to listen to Carolynne of FoodShare. She told us about her work there, and we learnt about the importance of having culturally relevant foods available, as well as the food insecurity in the Northern Territories. She also encouraged us to foster our connection with the land. One suggestion she made was to find a “Sit Spot” – somewhere where you would sit, for twenty minutes at a time, and observe the space around you, whenever you were able to do so. This is one thing I’m hoping to be able to incorporate into my life moving forward.
The food was delicious, the stories fantastic, and the company phenomenal. All in all, a wonderful experience, and I can’t wait until the next one!