Working to feed the future

Amid the hottest summer ever, our B.C. team set out to get a first-hand look at the Indigenous communities working toward food sovereignty
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B.C. reporter Steph Kwetásel’wet Wood on the right, speaking with Dawn Morrison on the left. Both sit in lawn chairs facing each other, with a field and mountains in the background shrouded in wildfire smoke.
On a sweltering day in late August, reporter Steph Kwetásel’wet Wood and photojournalist Jesse Winter were driving to the small village of Chase, in British Columbia’s Interior — about 12 kilometres away from an area razed by the fastest-moving wildfire in the province’s history, just the week before.

Before a warming planet posed new challenges, the ongoing impacts of colonization had already created food insecurity for First Nations. The onset of the hottest summer ever made our B.C. team wonder: how exactly will this affect the communities that are working toward food sovereignty?

So, over the span of a week, Steph travelled across the province to talk to those who are taking back the ability to feed their communities. Their stories of finding hope, and solutions, amid a rapidly changing climate have culminated in a brand-new series we just launched: Nourish.

For the first piece in Nourish, Steph spoke with people in Secwepemc territory who have long been dedicated to Indigenous food sovereignty.

“As Dawn Morrison, who has been working on Indigenous food sovereignty for two decades and runs the Cwelcwelt Kuc Garden, told me about her cousin’s house that just burned down, the smoke became thicker,” Steph said, recalling feeling the smoke in her mouth and nose. “The house was a community hub with a freezer full of elk, bison and salmon that would feed the community this winter — all gone up in flames.”
A view through the burst out rear window of a charred car in the Little Shuswap community east of Kamloops. Through the broken rear window and windshield, another charred truck sits among the trees in the disastrous remains of the Bush Creek East fire.
“It struck me that they’re trying to conserve water, push for better policy and protect the land — all while figuring out how to put food on people’s plates,” Steph told me. “It doesn’t just have consequences on growing ancestral foods, but also community well-being.”

For Janice Billy, an Elder who helps with Morrison’s food sovereignty initiatives, revitalizing those food practices also means regaining connection with the language and land lost to a long legacy of colonial harms. “It’s not just learning the words of those foods, but it’s learning the values that go with it,” she said.

This is about a lot more than just food, Morrison told Steph. It’s about “social, cultural and ecological systems change,” she said.
Fires — or droughts, floods and habitat degradation — won’t stop Morrison, Billy and many others from working toward a food-sovereign future.

Go read Steph’s feature here, and keep an eye out for more stories that detail how First Nations are bringing food sovereignty back to the table.

Take care and feed the future,

Karan Saxena
Audience engagement editor

A photo of The Narwhal's B.C. reporters (from left to right): Steph Wood, Sarah Cox, Matt Simmons, Francesca Fionda and Ainslie Cruickshank

Three cheers in B.C.

We’ve got some good news to share: from invasive species to tensions between communities and extractive industries, our B.C. bureau’s dogged reporting has earned three Webster Awards nominations this year!

B.C. biodiversity reporter Ainslie Cruickshank’s feature on invasive-but-tasty green crabs is in the running for excellence in environment reporting category; mining reporter Francesca Fionda’s weeks-long coverage of the Gitxaała Nation and Ehattesaht First Nation’s case in the B.C. Supreme Court is nominated for excellence in legal journalism; and northwest B.C. reporter Matt Simmons’ visual explainer on the pipelines crossing Wet’suwet’en territory is up for the excellence in multimedia journalism award.

We’re super grateful to all our members who make this award-worthy journalism possible! Our fingers are crossed for November, when the winners will be announced.


This week in The Narwhal

Exploration equipment seen from above in Nopiming, one of many Manitoba parks open to mining activity
Many Manitoba parks are open to mining. Now an industry group wants to ‘suspend all protected areas’
By Julia-Simone Rutgers
Less than a quarter of Manitoba’s parks are protected from industry. As companies race to dig up minerals deemed critical to a low-carbon economy, exploration for new mines is ramping up in provincial parks.

Wind turbines on the horizon with mountains in the background and a river valley in the foreground.
Alberta’s renewables pause is leaving billions of dollars in limbo. Here’s what you need to know 
By Drew Anderson
Illustration of Toronto skyline with one green-coloured building
In its push to build houses, Ontario says energy efficiency has to wait
By Fatima Syed

Aerial view of Wood Buffalo National Park, Canada’s largest national park.
‘This has to stop’: oilsands, hydro dams continue to threaten Canada’s largest national park
By Sarah Cox
A blockader counts the rings in a recently cut old-growth cedar tree
‘Frustrating as hell’: advocates say old-growth still being cut years after B.C. promised protections
By Ainslie Cruickshank

What we’re reading

In Grist, Siri Chilukuri asks: to cope with extreme heat, is it time for the world to take a siesta?

Vox’s Rebecca Leber breaks down the unpredictability of climate disasters.

Carbon capture or Big Oil greenwashing? For the Guardian, Oliver Milman looks into a new facility being built in Texas.
GIF of a happy dog wagging its tail.
How we feel when our public-interest journalism gets recognition. Wanna make sure your friends don’t miss out some award-nominated reading? Tell them to sign up for our free, weekly newsletter.
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