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Indigenous Food Circle a standing force during COVID-19 (2 photos)

Surviving and thriving during a global pandemic.

When COVID began, the fear of a food shortage took hold of the community. We all remember walking into the grocery store witnessing empty shelves and no toilet paper, wondering what was to come if the fear proceeded into the long term.

The Indigenous Food Circle took this fear and reigned it in, becoming a saving hand for communities throughout and around Thunder Bay.

The Good Food Box

When the pandemic hit our community, the Indigenous Food Circle partnered with The Good Food Box as a driving force in response to this crisis.

They went to six communities and did emergency Good Food boxes while paying for half of them to assist in any needs the community was facing.

With food being in crisis, so was the intake of money when everyone experienced lack of work or the need to be there. IFC made sure communities were fed without worry.

“Communities were really resilient and learning about themselves and understanding that if you are in a lock down what do you do about food when you’re dependent on the supply change,” says Jessica Mclaughlin, member of the Long Lake 58 First Nation and coordinator of the Indigenous Food Circle.

While supplying Good Food Boxes to communities in need, IFC created and built stronger relationships with the people of these communities.

“We built stronger relationships through packing the boxes and being there physically,” says Shelby Gagnon, a project coordinator with Indigenous Food Circle.

Gathering relationships

Through a $55,000 emergency fund for communities in an accelerated rate of crisis, they were given the opportunity to pay for Good Food boxes in Gull Bay when cases were accelerated at the beginning.

While a lot of the food supplied isn’t grown locally, this gave people the opportunity to learn about where the food is coming from, as well as gave the Indigenous Food Circle the ability to teach communities about culturally appropriate food and what our land is capable of through different projects.

“[We’re] building relationships with the land and people,” says Gagnon.

Moving forward

As the Indigenous Food Circle continues to breathe wellness and education into the community, Mclaughlin and Gagnon are taking on bigger projects to assist in the community’s food security.

This last week they announced a partnership with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit called Understanding our Food Systems that will continue building and growing local relationships.

Mclaughlin says, “we want to help Indigenous families and Indigenous peoples access food through our 24 partner organizations.”

By working with elders and building relationships throughout the community, the Indigenous Food Circle is supplying programs for equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems to better serve Thunder Bay and the First Nations.

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