It has been two years since the Gateway checked in with community food security practitioners on the North Shore of Vancouver in this story celebrating the work of the Edible Garden Project (EGP) and their partners in the Sharing Gardens.
The EGP is a founding member of the North Shore Table Matters network which promotes, educates, advocates, leads, incubates, and partners on food security across Vancouver’s North Shore. The network’s annual gathering is the centrepiece of Table Matters work, bringing together its members and supporters for a feast and conversation.
This year’s gathering, “Seed, Soil & Sovereignty: Celebrating Diversity With Food” addressed themes of Indigenous food sovereignty, racism, and anti-poverty, confidently tackling some of the most critical issues in BC’s food system and movement.
The gathering was graciously hosted at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre at the Squamish Nation. Attendees were welcomed by Senaqwila Wyss who, along with her mother Cease Wyss, shared teachings and stories of the land and place.
Powerful words came from all directions throughout the evening. Kevin Huang of the Hua Foundation described the history of historical oppression and food injustices in Chinese communities in BC. Speaking to the intersections of food injustices and poverty was Trish Garner of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition.
The impact on participants was resounding.
Last night was a really outstanding event. I haven’t come home from an evening of speakers so moved and energized in a long time.
New themes came from yesterday’s gathering around poverty, diversity, racism, privilege and inclusion. It was really great to have a supportive forum to get some of these issues on to the table. T’uy’tanat Cease Wyss and her family were absolutely amazing… their stories and history really helped drive home for me, the importance of the Table Matters work.
Reflecting on the event’s success, Table Matters coordinator Jenn Meilleur, says,
On a personal level, as a resident of the North Shore, I need and want more opportunities for dialogue on these themes, with other citizens and our local governments. I’m gratified to realize that through our organizing efforts for the gathering we now have connections to the people, organizations and projects that can deepen the conversation.
The Tsleil-Waututh’s work on restoring Burrard Inlet is amazing and really opens up what we mean by ‘food security”. The North Shore Immigrant Inclusion Partnership is working to improve representation from immigrants on boards and committees in our local non-profits and civic institutions- that’s critical for all of us working on food system issues. The Hua Foundation’s advocacy on cultural food assets is really important for us to be thinking about on the North Shore. Finally, the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition is an amazing resource for those across the province for educating and mobilizing action on poverty, our root cause of household food insecurity.’
Convening community conversations that examine the intersections of food security work with race, privilege, poverty, and Indigenous food sovereignty can be challenging but they are critical to advancing BC’s food movement. Jenn offers this quote from Peter Block as her inspiration in this work, “We change the world when we create the time and space for heartfelt, unique conversations that discuss values and affirm doubts, feelings, and intuition.”
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Key partners and funders:
With gratitude for the incredible generosity of Cease Wyss and the staff at the Chief Joe Mathias Centre. Special thanks to Table Matters funders and partners who made this gathering possible: City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, District of West Vancouver, S’Wich Cafe and Whole Foods.