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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Toward decolonizing food literacy education : co-creating a curriculum at Lach Klan School with Gitxaala Nation Smith, Ada Parkhurst


Food is and has always been at the heart of what defines diduuls, or a “good life,” for Gitxaała Nation. Like First Nations across Canada, Gitxaała continues to experience the lasting effects of colonization, impeding community access to traditional territories and relationships supporting hunting, gathering, fishing, cultivation and trading of Indigenous foods. The profound dietary shift as a result of colonization has contributed to disproportionately high rates of food insecurity, diet-related health issues, and barriers to the transmission of cultural knowledge around Gitxaała foods. In response, Gitxaała Nation’s community garden program, developed out of the Remote First Nations Food Systems Project, a governmental initiative run by British Columbia’s Ministry of Agriculture from 2012-2014, is aimed at addressing these issues by providing a space for knowledge sharing, community cohesion, and serving as a local, sustainable means of producing nourishing foods outside the market. At the same time, food sovereignty has emerged as a movement and framework for Indigenous peoples in Canada that emphasizes strengthening traditional food practices, food-sharing and trading networks in order to support community health and well-being. For Indigenous peoples of Canada, food sovereignty is also about the right to feeding and teaching children about foodways rooted in community knowledge, stories, memories, and wisdoms. This thesis, founded in Indigenous theory and the principles of food sovereignty, explores how the Gitxaała community garden and the summer reading program at Lach Klan School can be leveraged to provide a platform for learning - or, ‘food literacy’ - as a pathway through which to support Indigenous knowledge traditions and contribute to achieving the tandem goals of food security, food sovereignty, and ultimately the concept of diduuls, or the ‘good life’ (relationship building to land, well-being, culture, community). By enhancing the engagement of students with their food system through hands-on learning activities that integrate local, Indigenous language and knowledge, this research suggests that food literacy activities have the potential to contribute to the goals of food sovereignty in Lach Klan by better equipping students to define, demand and make decisions that shape what their food system looks like now and into the future.

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