Feasting for Change: Reconnecting with Food, Place & Culture

  • Jen Bagelman University of Victoria
  • Fiona Deveraux Island Health
  • Raven Hartley
Keywords: Food, medicine, experiential learning, intergenerational, health, wellness, resilience, revitalization, feasting


This paper examines and shares the promising practices that emerged from an innovative project, entitled “Feasting for Change,” in promoting health and well-being. Taking place on Coast Salish territories, British Columbia, Canada, Feasting for Change aimed to empower Indigenous communities to revitalize traditional knowledge about the healing power of foods. This paper contributes to a growing body of literature that illuminates how solidarities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities can be fostered to support meaningful decolonization of mainstream health practices and discourses. In particular, it provides a hopeful model for how community-based projects can take inspiration and continual leadership from Indigenous Peoples. This paper offers experiential and holistic methods that enhance the capacity for intergenerational, land-based, and hands-on learning about the value of traditional food and cultural practices. It also demonstrates how resources (digital stories, plant knowledge cards, celebration cookbooks, and language videos) can be successfully developed with and used by community to ensure the ongoing process of healthful revitalization. 


Bisset, S., Cargo, M., Delormier, T., Macaulay, A. C., & Potvin, L. (2004). Legitimizing diabetes as a community health issue: A case analysis of an Indigenous community in Canada. Health Promotion International, 19(3), 317–326. doi:10.1093/heapro/dah305

Corntassel, J., & Bryce, C. (2012). Practicing sustainable self-determination: Indigenous approaches to cultural restoration and revitalization. The Brown Journal of International Affairs, 18(2), 151–162.

Coulthard, G. (2014). Red skin, white masks: Rejecting the colonial politics of recognition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Kelm, M.-E. (1998). Medical pluralism in Indigenous communities in colonizing bodies: Indigenous health and healing in British Columbia, 1900–1950. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Kovach, M. (2009). Indigenous methodologies: Characteristics, conversations, and contexts. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press.

Kulnieks, A., Longboat, D. R., & Young, K. (2010). Re-Indigenizing curriculum: An eco- hermeneutic approach to learning. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 6(1), 15–24.

Manitowabi, D., & Shawande, M. (2011). The meaning of Anishinabe healing and wellbeing on Manitoulin Island. Pimatisiwin: A Journal of Aboriginal and Indigenous Community Health, 9(2), 441–458.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada [TRC]. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Retrieved from http://www.trc.ca/websites/trcinstitution/File/2015/Findings/Exec_Summary_2015_05_31_web_o.pdf

Turner, N. J. (2014). Ancient Pathways, Ancestral Knowledge: Ethnobotany and Ecological Wisdom of Indigenous Peoples of Northwestern North America. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.