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Chippewas of the Thames First Nation focuses on nutrition at the upcoming pow wow – Anishinabek News

Marley Fisher, of Munsee Delaware Nation and community dietitian at the Chippewa Health Centre, looks forward to providing more nutrition subsidies of $100 off the food vendors fee for those selling fruit or vegetables at this year’s Chippewas of the Thames Pow Wow. – Photo supplied

By Rick Garrick

CHIPPEWAS OF THE THAMES — The Chippewas of the Thames’ Chippewa Health Centre is continuing its diabetes initiatives including a nutrition subsidy of $100 off the food vendors fee for those selling fruit or vegetables at the Chippewas of the Thames Pow Wow.

“I was an idea that just came to me,” says Marley Fisher, community dietitian at the Chippewa Health Centre, noting that she thought of the idea last summer as a way to promote healthy eating. “When we think of pow wows, we often don’t think of fruit and vegetables right away, so that’s where the idea came to offer a nutrition subsidy for food vendors that were able to offer fruits and vegetables at their stands for the Chippewa Pow Wow.”

Fisher says the food vendors could get up to $100 off their vendors fee, $50 off for serving a qualifying vegetable and $50 off for serving a qualifying fruit.

“I had made up a list of the things that were considered qualified,” Fisher says. “It needed to be a separate menu item that someone could buy that is just vegetable or just fruit.”

Fisher says about six food vendors participated in the initiative at last year’s Chippewas of the Thames Pow Wow, which was held in August.

“Because a lot of the food vendors are going on the pow wow trail and it was more of a localized community initiative, some people may not have heard about the initiative before they got here so they weren’t able to participate,” Fisher says. “But we still had six food vendors participate, which was more than I thought considering it was the first time doing this. In total, there was $400 in subsidies given out and that money goes right back into the community. So it was really a good partnership with the pow wow committee and myself to make this initiative and carry it out.”

Fisher says they had two-sided signs highlighting the vegetables and fruits for sale for the food vendors who qualified for the subsidy.

“One side had a photo of vegetables on it and it says Gitigaanens sold here,” Fisher says. “The other side had visuals of fruit and it says Maanwang sold here, so fruit, both in [Anishinaabemowin], so kind of connecting to the language aspect with this initiative as well.”

Fisher says the food vendors sold a variety of vegetables and fruit, including barbecued corn on the cob, fruit cups, vegetable cups with dip, and whole fruits such as bananas and oranges.

“The big thing was the foods had to be on the menu,” Fisher says. “And they had to at least be able to complete 50 orders of that food item for it to be considered eligible for the subsidy.”

Fisher says there was a good response from the community to the initiative.

“They just said it was a really great initiative and they never saw something like this,” Fisher says. “They were so happy to see so much other healthy options at the pow wow that they wouldn’t have normally seen.”

Fisher says she is also currently gathering feedback from the community on their thoughts about what they consider to be traditional and Indigenous foods.

“Some of the foods aren’t always what we would label as healthy today but they are still a cultural food dish,” Fisher says. “For a traditional Indigenous diet, it was gluten-free and dairy-free and relatively low in carbohydrates, very different from the Western diet that we are used to eating today. It had more fibre in it, it had good quality proteins, more fish, a lot of omega-3 (fatty acids). A big thing other than just the nutritional value is actually the connection it gave us to land and our culture. All of the traditional foods that we have eaten, because they were from the land and in their whole form, were pretty healthy.”

Fisher says she usually talks with her clients about their diet and the tools they need to handle and manage their diabetes the best they can.

“Where it stems from for me for making sure the community is eating healthy is from the recent history of us just not being able to access good quality nutritional foods, everything that has come out of Residential School with nutrition experiments and just all those connections,” Fisher says. “We’re still living with this fallout of this poor quality diet. A big piece of everyone’s culture is their foods and we’ve been disconnected from that for so long.”

Fisher says First Nations people need to take care of their body nutritionally when doing cultural activities.

“We need to take care of our body and they say that in a lot of ceremonies, this is our one vessel that we’ve been given to live in and we need to take care of that,” Fisher says.

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