FES wraps up Indigenous Environmental Justice series with Adrianne Lickers

This year’s Indigenous Environmental Justice (IEJ) Speaker Series hosted by York’s Faculty of Environmental Studes (FES) concluded on April 12 with Adrianne Lickers presenting on the emerging food system and farmers market at Six Nations.

Lickers is founder and coordinator of Our Sustenance, a community organization dedicated to food security and sustainability. Her talk, “Longhouse to Greenhouse: An Emerging Food System at Six Nations”, was the final of five talks presented during the IEJ series.

Lickers, who grew up in an Oregon, was inspired by her family’s traditional food practices.

“When I was a kid we grew everything we ate, and if not, we traded for it,” said Lickers.

Our Sustenance, based in Ohsweken, in the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, began in 2011 as a way of addressing access to fresh food in the area as the community hadn’t had a grocery store since 1990.

The program ultimately grew into a farmers’ market, a community garden, and a food access educational program. As Lickers described when arguing for the importance of Our Sustenance, “people in all walks of life experience a lack of food, in one form or another”.

The educational piece of Our Sustenance is focused on helping youth to understand the ways in which food is produced.

“If you have kids now, and they don’t know where their food comes from, we might lose access to fresh food in the future,” said Lickers.

According to Lickers, a particularly important aspect of the program is the way the children who participate pass skills on to their parents, helping to build confidence in the idea that we are all capable of growing our own food.

Ultimately, Our Sustenance is about reviving culturally relevant foodways and recovering small-scale food production methods.

“I know there’s that old adage, teach a man to fish… but we can do the same thing with tomatoes,” said Lickers.

For Lickers, the Our Sustenance program contributes to the idea of Indigenous food sovereignty.

“Sometimes we get caught up in the politics of the word ‘sovereignty’, like it means ‘you want to be separate’. Food sovereignty just means being able to control what goes into my body,” she said.

More information on Our Sustenance can be found at sixnationsfarmersmarket.com.

For additional information on the 2016/2017 Speaker Series, visit the IEJ Project’s website at iejproject.info.yorku.ca/speaker-series-20162017.

Content provided by Victor Bruzzone