This week a group of us met up at Sahalli Park in East Vancouver to talk about Canadian food, picnic style. Each person brought something they considered to be a “Canadian” food which prompted a lot of interesting conversation around food, culture, politics, colonization, class, and tradition just to name a few topics discussed. Keg de Souza led the discussion, which was organized by Holly Schmidt and attended by students from her Food Justice class at Emily Carr University — a class that explores local and global food justice issues, as well as participants from Exchange Youth Program, and members from the Native Youth Program at the Museum of Anthropology.
Each person discussed the food item they brought, and how they perceived it to be Canadian – or what “Canadian” food meant to them. There was such a mix of foods – Tim Horton’s doughnuts,bannock, maple syrup, conifer tea, butter tarts, A&W, poutine, pancakes, perogies, berries, jams, and lots of others.
Holly Schmidt’s Food Justice class takes place at Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House (located at Broadway, near Fraser Street) and considers the border of East and West Vancouver – an area with a complex history and rapidly changing future due to the pressures of gentrification. Ripe with food related initiatives from community gardens, farmers markets, communal dinners and independent grocers and restaurants, this neighborhood provides a compelling context to explore and engage with local food systems and initiatives to change them. The class takes up artist and educator Pablo Helguera’s “Education for Socially Engaged Art Handbook,” and considers the role of the artist in socially engaged art and explores methods for participation and collaboration through the creation of individual and collective socially engaged art projects focused on food issues.