Pollinating Borders

There is a deep historical connection among Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island (North America including Mexico), with corn being central to the cultures represented in our exchange. Geopolitical borders are often seen as colonial impositions. The main north-south axis in our project runs from Ontario in “so called Canada”1 through New York to Ohio in the U.S., and into central and southern Mexico (Jalisco, Michoacán, and Oaxaca states). Our project is built on personal histories of collaboration among some of us who live on Turtle Island:

  • Mexican agronomist Fernando spent the summer of 2002 learning organic agriculture from Dianne in Ontario. Dianne’s family friend John met Fernando then and visited him regularly in Mexico.
  • Lauren invited Fulvio Gioanetto from Mexico to conferences in Canada in 2009; in subsequent years, he came to Ontario annually to work as a production consultant at Plan B organic farm.
  • In 2009, Deborah and Lauren hosted Gustavo Esteva from UniTierra in Oaxaca for a summer course on “Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Knowledges, and Autonomous Movements” at York University in Toronto. He introduced us to Mayan food activists Angel and Valiana during a road trip to Mexico in 2014.
Mexican and Colombian collaborators connecting through language and food at an Ontario cottage

These Canadian-Mexican connections have been strengthened through the Legacies project and are evident in videos that are framed as exchanges of knowledges and practices.

When the Mexicans came to Canada for our gatherings, they also made new connections with each other, across regions and Indigenous nations. As a result, Mayans Angel and Valiana invited Fulvio and Maria from their P’urepecha community in Michoacán to the Yucatan to offer workshops in medicinal plants and organic inputs2 All Latinxs3 connected socially with our Colombian-Canadian production team (Alex, Juan, and Cristina); Spanish was a common language, human-plant relations a common passion, and a feast of home-grown food a way to both stomachs and hearts.

  1. From Secwepemc Dawn Morrison, an Indigenous advisor for the project during its first year, we learned the term “so-called Canada” as a way to critically acknowledge the colonial construction of the Canadian state.
  2. See the video “The Alchemy of Agroecology” and the photo essay “Medicinal Plants”
  3. The gender neutral short term for Latin Americans is Latinxs.