Tables

Promoting decolonization and reconciliation

“At the root of colonization was/is the stolen land and resources that continue to be core of the current struggles we are engaged in. 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.”

Ryan, Mohawk professor, Ontario, Canada

‘”The Haudenosaunee were absolutely critical in the forming of the countries that have become known on this continent as the United States and Canada, and therefore the influence that North America has had on the world.”

Chandra, Mohawk food leader, Six Nations, Ontario

“We’re also really good at roadblocks, at protests. Our people have had to defend their right, to exercise their treaty right or sovereign right. Generations of our people have grown up trying to get the attention of Canada, of Great Britain and of the United States to realize that treaties matter, that this relationship matters. But every now and then you have to draw a line in the sand and say “we’re not moving one more inch.”

Rick, Tuscarora artist, Six Nations, Ontario

The broader political tension within which we fight for healthy, sustainable, and culturally appropriate food is neoliberal capitalism and its history through European colonization and globalization, now being countered by a resurgence and reconciliation process led by Indigenous Peoples defending their land and culture.

Tables can symbolize both the historical negotiations of treaties and trade agreements, for example, as well as gathering places for developing alliances between Indigenous and settler social justice movements.

Our exchange has taught many of us about buried parts of our colonial history. Not only did the colonial governments draw models of democratic governance from the Haudenosaunee. They signed treaties that were to respect the inherent rights of the First Nations, but many broken treaties are now being challenged.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada has unveiled and excavated the horrific impact of residential schools on Indigenous peoples, and food is an entry point into understanding that history. Not only in Canada, but in the United States and Mexico, Indigenous communities are reclaiming their world views, cultural practices, and spiritual relationships with food, directly challenging market-driven food systems.

“In the territories of the P'urepecha indigenous nation (in Mexico), our subsistence is based on a holistic vision of the territory and of the beings and spirits that live and interact. It is also based more on ecological exchanges (with nature) than on economic exchanges (with markets).”

Maria, P’urepecha healer, Michoacán, Mexico

Via Campesina, the largest coalition of 80 million peasants and indigenous farmers around the world, has led the movement for food sovereignty. The National Farmers Union in Canada has been very engaged in this transnational movement, and has facilitated exchanges among young food activists that exposed Dan to models of agroecology schools in other countries, feeding his own dream for the family farm in Ontario. The Legacies Project is one small gesture within these larger networks of social and environmental justice activists.

“An agroecology school could bring peoples from all over the world, with farming skills, who could help out at Grenville and build the community that we all want to see.”

Dan, young agrarian, Ontario, Canada

“We’re trying to connect farmers with Indigenous people and build the connection between Ontario and Mexico. We need to share knowledge and experience, to know other cultures, other experiences, and not stay inside the bubble of our own communities.”

Fulvio, Italian/Mexican, Michoacán, Mexico

Via Campesina, the largest coalition of 80 million peasants and indigenous farmers around the world, has led the movement for food sovereignty. The National Farmers Union in Canada has been very engaged in this transnational movement, and has facilitated exchanges among young food activists that exposed Dan to models of agroecology schools in other countries, feeding his own dream for the family farm in Ontario. The Legacies Project is one small gesture within these larger networks of social and environmental justice activists.