Honouring the grandmothers through (re)membering, (re)learning, & (re)vitalizing Métis traditional foods and protocols

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Cyr, Monica
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In Canada, Métis cultural restoration continues to advance. Food practices and protocols, from the vantage point of Métis women who were traditionally responsible for domestic work, qualify as important subjects worthy of study because food and food work are integral components of family health and well-being. This qualitative grounded theory study explored Métis cultural food in Manitoba, Canada, with the intent to honour Métis women. Twenty-one in-depth interviews were conducted with Métis residents of urban Winnipeg and southern rural Manitoba. Results indicate that women were traditionally the keepers of culinary knowledge and practices in Métis families, and were highly resourceful in feeding large families and often other community members. Traditional foods were often land-based (wild and cultivated), and frequently enhanced by market foods. There is a strong sense of history, pride, identity, and desire for revitalization through cultural activities such as food; however; there is a gap in associated knowledge translation or “teachings”. While some Métis families are rooted in their culture and practices related to Métis foods, others are not as connected to the foods and recipes they grew up with. There is, however, a desire to reestablish family recipes and food protocols, and increase access traditional foods which are perceived as beneficial for Métis people. Results of this thesis will provide Manitoba Métis people with opportunities for critical reflection on food and their identity as Métis; food origins; the role of food in our lives; and how ecological and political structures affect the production and consumption of food. In addition, this project will provide educators with an alternative discourse as it relates to food. Rather than focusing on nutrients and contemporary foods available in retail stores, culturally-based food education provides an important holistic approach to overall health and well-being that is self-affirming and strength-based.
Métis, Métis foods, Traditional foods, Indigenous, Identity, Canada