Oral Presentation Lowitja Institute International Indigenous Health and Wellbeing Conference 2016

Strengthening social and emotional wellbeing with food culture (#49)

Stewart Sutherland 1 , Tim Stevenson 2
  1. NA, Charnwood, ACT, Australia
  2. Food Maters Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada

The land provides our food, our health and our culture.

Social and emotional wellbeing is an Indigenous concept that encapsulates a whole of life way of looking at the individual, family and community. Indigenous identity is inherent with the land and is shared with us through traditional food activities. The loss of traditional food practices, the sharing of culture and lore, along with other life skills, has left Indigenous communities seeking to reclaim traditional food customs. Food Matters Manitoba has engaged Indigenous communities in cultural food practices which in turn provided an avenue for improving Indigenous social and emotional wellbeing within these communities.

Through our research on cultural food reacquisition, use and healthy food initiatives we are supporting healthier communities. The engagement with communities is helping revitalise their relations with the land through relevant cultural food practices, focusing on knowledge sharing and transference of traditional food skills with future generations. This builds strong, safe and healthy communities where traditional and healthy food choices are valued and accessible.

Apart from providing the body with nutrients to thrive, food practices are the engine for the passing on of culture, living and survival skills and also help with language acquisition. This unyielding fact has led to a new project that builds on previous work with our communities in traditional food. The project will continue building upon the relationship to the land and actively seeks to support social and emotional welling along with other health benefits.

Cultural Food practices play an important role in the Social and Emotional Wellbeing of the individual, family and community. Investment towards cultural food practices builds pride and strengthens the relationship with all cultural protocols and self, in turn improving health outcomes for the individual, family and community, reinstating a cultural food cycle.

Mashkiki aki (strength from the land)