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OCN Community Garden

Opaskwayak Culture & Healthy Living Initiative- Community Garden Photovoice Project

Food Sovereignty

on 18 December 2014

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Transcript of OCN Community Garden

Opaskwayak Culture &
Healthy Living Initiative

Community Gardens Photovoice Project
Returning to our roots: Ta keyway natamak kayas issichikaywina

For tens of thousands of years we were a healthy active nation with a sustainable hunting and fishing culture and many small gardens
early 1900's community was forcibly relocated to area with hard clay base and little topsoil
Reserve "Pass" system restricted mobility, hunting, fishing and trapping
1960's Grand Rapids Hydro dam flooded traplines, changed migration of wildlife and fish, changed waterways making it increasingly difficult to access traditional foods
Residential School era further disrupted connection to language, culture and traditional food knowledge.

Opaskwayak Cree Nation
First Nation along Saskatchewan and Pasqua Rivers
Treaty 5 territory
5700 members: 3200 living On reserve
We refer to ourselves as Opaskwaya Inniniwak
Historical Impacts
Processed and imported foods have, for the mostpart, replaced wild meat, fish, fowl and berries
Food security significant concern
Many OCN members live below poverty level
65% of community diabetic and/or ill health
Most rely on medication for treatment of chronic illness
of 5700 members, only 20 over age of 68
We want change.
We want to return to sustainable
and healthy foods and lifestyles
Food sovereignty, security and wellness
In 2013 the Opaskwayak Culture &
Healthy Living Initiative was started
In 2013 we began our journey by planting 55 fruit trees. That year our potential orchard was flooded. But we didn't give up. We started again
Starting over.
To provide spaces and opportunities
for OCN residents to live more healthy
and active lifestyles.
38 families signed up to take part in creating new vegetable garden, a raspberry patch and a potato garden.
People attended monthly garden prep meetings over the winter.
For the main garden, we chose a high ridge of land beside an old creekbed, in the centre of the settlement so that many would have access to the site by walking.

Nistum - First/Before
but the area had a clay base, so needed lots of prep.
Ehkistiganiwak- Planting and Seeding

In two separate we planted 87 fruit trees; apples, crabapples, chokecherries, plums, raspberries and cherries. Then we focused on the vegetable garden. Some gardeners took trees home to plant in their own yards.
"We had to relearn all those necessary things that go into making a garden (and a family) grow. I had forgotten that garden work requires continuous attention, endless patience and all those things that go into a healthy happy family." Garden member, age 70
As we waited for the seedlings to grow we had a number of community events to get more people involved and excited about the gardens.
Birdhouse Building
Our grand opening! Food, thank yous and celebration.
Neetawiginah- Growing
"The excitement of seeing new plants and learning the difference between vegetables and weeds.... and weeding and weeding and weeding...." Gardener, Age 30
"I liked when the Elders shared stories about the area, Cree place names and remembered the gardens from the past" Gardener, Age 49.
Ehsooniakaniwak- Networking, fundraising
Ehmoo nyekaniwak- Harvesting
Kisti kahna-
The Harvest

"We had fun in the kitchen learning to can the vegetables. I'm looking forward to the clay oven next year." Gardener, Age 32
"Let's work with the schools so
more kids get involved"
"It's good for the Elders to
get moving again, instead of thinking
they have to stop living at 50"
"We need to take more care in planting. Space the seeds further apart and thin
the plants sooner"
"The garden has been good for all of us. Let's make it even bigger and better for next year"
"We need to learn how to make salads. Next year we need more recipes and lessons on salad making"
"The bird house competition must continue!"
"People really like beets.
Next year we need to plant more"
Keetom neepiki-
What we learned and thoughts for next year.
"Swiss chard?! I didn't know what that was. I learned that chard and beets are really good for diabetics. I learned how to cook them and really love beet tops. They are all really good." Gardener, Age 63
Kinanaskohtmitinan--Many thanks to:
Opaskwayak Cree Nation Chief and Council
Paskwayak Business Development Corp
OCN Parks and Recreation Dept
Tides Canada
Manitoba Heathy Food Initiatives
MB Hydro
and everyone else who helped in any way to make the garden such a success!
Amber Green © Manitoba First Nations Education Resource Centre
Cover Art:


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(used with permission)
(all photos used with permission)
idle no more!
Over the spring/summer each family put in at least one hour of work per week in the gardens.

As requested by OCN Elders, this presentation uses phonetic spelling of Opaskwayak specific N- dialect of Cree language (rather than SRO).
Full transcript