By Perry McLeod-Shabogesic
SUDBURY –The Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre (SKHC) believes that good food is good medicine.
In operation since 1998 promoting the integration of traditional approaches into primary health care, the centre has expanded its program delivery to include the creation of a Wild Food Bank. The program provides affordable and healthy wild food choices to clients. Families simply provide a tobacco offering which honours the animals and plants of creation, and they receive wild food and/or medicine.
Anishinaabe believe that since animals like moose and deer consume wild medicine as food, we receive it through harvesting them in the fall hunt. Although the four-leggeds are not placed here solely for our purpose, part of their journey is to provide us with their vessels as life medicine. We only honour them by harvesting in a good way.
Three years ago SKHC staff filled a freezer with moose and deer meat and made it available to a number of struggling families looking to put healthy food on their table. Today staff continues to harvest each fall, and with the help of Conservation Officers of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR), five freezers are now being filled to store and disperse fresh moose, deer and the occasional elk throughout the year to the Sudbury community. Last year alone, some 700 individuals accessed the Wild Food bank. Other local agencies have also requested and received wild food donations for feasts, meetings and gatherings.
“Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre honours our traditional and western practices in building healthy communities”, says Executive Director Angela Recollet. “We use to the best of our ability the resources that Shkagamik-Kwe (Mother Earth) offers to provide services, one of which is our wild food bank.
“The people we serve take much pride and respect in honouring our animal kingdom in their ultimate sacrifice to provide nourishment to the people, and we believe that access to traditional foods is good medicine and leads to a healthy natural lifestyle.”
Recollet said the centre appreciates its partnership with the MNR that has been instrumental in supporting the growth of its Wild Food Bank.
For more information on the Wild Food Bank please contact the Traditional Program at (705) 675-1596.