Representatives from local First Nations communities

Representatives from local First Nations communities

Forum provides food for thought

A two-day food forum held in Williams Lake last week delved into First Nations traditional foods and food security.

A two-day food forum held in Williams Lake last week delved into First Nations traditional foods and food security.

Six Tsilhqot’in and two Shuswap communities, in partnership with a variety of agencies and organizations from around the region, shared information and developed some community action around creating healthy communities.

“I like the fact this is happening,” said Suzanne Johnson from the First Nations Health Authority. “I’ve been working in the field my entire career and have been wanting to see communities come together to discuss food planning.”

A plus, she said, was the fact while the forum was initiated by Interior Health it was done in collaboration with the Tsilhqot’in and Shuswap communities.

“People from the communities will go home with plans and ideas, but the fact health authorities have committed to help them become more active partners in general health planning is good.”

Community dietician Tatjana Lauzon, who also chairs the Williams Lake Food Policy Council, said there were some major presentations on healthy and traditional foods and guidelines for schools.

“Six communities talked about growing food and one shared their story of a three-acre garden project and a quinoa demonstration in its second year of a three-year project,” Lauzon said.

The city’s manager of social development Anne Burrill said delegates were asking how to ensure healthy food is affordable.

“In remote communities the cost of food is high and it’s expensive to come into town to shop,” Burrill said. “Communities want to be self-sufficient and be able to provide whole foods for youth and families.”

Presenters talked about hunting, fishing, gathering, and preserving and the value of traditional foods, she added.