Ryan DeCaire

My Place

Shé:kon / Hello

My name is Ryan. I am Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and was born and raised in Wáhta Mohawk Territory. I am currently working in Wáhta, Six Nations, and Toronto, and I travel to Hawaii a lot for school. I am an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics and Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto, a Phd Student in the Hawaiian and Indigenous Language and Culture Revitalization Program at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, and an immersion instructor and curriculum developer at Onkwawén:na Kentyóhkwa. I also coordinate a small community food initiative in my community called Tsi Tewaienthò:tha’ “Where We Plant”.

My Passion with Food

I like learning land-based activities like farming, fishing, hunting, and survival skills. I like the idea on being independent by providing sustenance for myself, my family and community. I think we need to do this to increase our community independence and resilience and to maintain and reclaim control of our land. I enjoy focussing my time working to revitalize foundations of Haudenosaunee society, with special interest in language and food systems. Much of my work in language revitalization is guided by the thought that a people revitalize a language, but more importantly, that a language revitalizes a people. I believe the same is true with our relationship with food. We need fewer social workers and more food systems revitalizationists.

My Perspective on Food Sovereignty

Food sovereignty is strictly political to me. It’s about control of land. I believe that colonial governments control us by controlling our food systems. They did this in our history during the American Revolution and still do it today. They want us to be dependent. I think we, as Indigenous people with distinct governments, need to be independent. In order to break free from colonial rule, we need to feed ourselves and control our food system. From this, other social, economic, cultural, and health benefits will come.

My Participation in the Legacies Project

Dianne Kretchmar taught me a lot of what I know about farming and agriculture while I was working at Grenville Farms. I met Deborah through my work at Grenville Farms.