The Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network is a collective of passionate and dedicated members with a shared vision of a healthy future based upon reconnecting with First Nations cultural teachings and practices. The membership is made up of health professionals, community development workers, members of the scientific community and culturally knowledgeable food managers and gatherers.
Essentially, the Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network aims to build collaborative approaches in addressing issues of traditional food access and security. Moreover, the Vancouver Island Traditional Food Network intends to research, document and share the ancestral strengths that are deeply rooted throughout Vancouver Island for the preservation for future generations.
Another goal of the Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network is to meaningfully engage with first nations elders and youth. The Vancouver Island Traditional Food Network believes very strongly in the importance of continuing the transferal of traditional knowledge to the next generations. The Network promotes opportunities for first nations communities and their youth and elders to revitalize traditional teachings and to breathe life back into these practices
To work together to recognize, maintain and enhance the traditional food systems on Vancouver Island and to honor and celebrate the cultural knowledge and holistic values of the First Nations people.
To provide opportunities for people from rural and isolated communities to participate the Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network has developed a rotating regional meeting approach across Vancouver Island. On a quarterly basis gatherings are hosted in each of the four island regions. (North, West, East and South) These regions are represented by three primary First Nations – Coast Salish, Kwakwakala and Nuu-chah-nulth. Since time immemorial these respective Nations have developed, maintained and evolved food gathering, harvesting and preserving approaches that are specific to their bioregion
Celebration of traditional foods is a major part of the efforts put forth by the Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network. The Network models this within each regional meeting that is held as well as through island-wide gatherings such as the Vancouver Island Traditional Foods Conference. The Vancouver Island Traditional Food Conference is an annual event that is collaboratively hosted at alternating locations across Vancouver Island. At these events there are many opportunities to share teachings, highlight key issues pertaining to traditional foods and to have fun!
Originally, the Vancouver Island Traditional Food Network was formed by like-minded folks interested in creating a collaborative approach to raise the profile of traditional foods on Vancouver Island. The first meeting took place in July 2008 as a follow-up to the Traditional Seafoods of V.I. Conference in April 2008. A Strategic planning session was held in September from which point the Network has continued to expand.
Thus far, the Vancouver Island Traditional Food Network has hosted gatherings in Snaw-naw-as (or Nanoose Bay), Tseshaht (or Port Alberni) and Fort Rupert. These gatherings have focused upon providing opportunities for first nations communities to identify food related issues that they are most affected by, as well as sharing traditional food teachings and knowledge and advocating for first nations management and practicing rights. The documented findings from each community gathering are circulated through an ever-growing email listserve. Future plans for the VI & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network include: the development of a website, a continuation of regional meetings throughout Vancouver island, further production of digital stories, and Position papers drafted with guidance from each first nation area regarding traditional food security issues.