The Greenbelt Fund has partnered with The Matawa Learning Centre and Roots to Harvest to develop a short video that illustrates an important local food education program happening in northern Ontario.
Matawa Learning Centre is a community-based educational support centre for seven Matawa First Nation schools: Aroland, Eabametoong, Nibinamik, Long Lake #58, Ginoogaming, Neskantaga, and Webequie First Nations. Matawa partnered with Roots to Harvest to implement a “Forest Meets Farm” initiative to empower and increase First Nation youth awareness of traditional local food in the Thunder Bay region.
The video features high school students from Matawa, trained by First Nation elders and educators to fish, as well as to process and prepare various hunted meats, in accordance with tradition. One of the goals of the Forest Meets Farm program is to pass on traditional knowledge, while engaging youth who may have struggled in western classroom settings.
“Food is a great way of connecting with our young ones,” says Marcel Bananish Sr., Cultural Worker at Matawa Learning Centre. “We help them dissect different parts of an animal to understand, ‘this is how we work.’ When we take those pieces and connect them to home—they walk, they breathe it after.”
This video beautifully captures the programming run by the initiative. It introduces key program facilitators, gives the viewer a sense of the facilities, and captures the northern Ontario landscape as a character unto itself.
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