The first Food Systems and Sustainability Symposium

 In Events, Good Food Stories, Policy and Planning

The first Food Systems and Sustainability Symposium took place on Wednesday, June 27th 2018 at the University of Manitoba. The one-day symposium was presented by the Food Systems Research Group at the University of Manitoba. Two key-note speakers and twelve undergraduate, masters and PhD students goodfoodwheelpresented their research on safe, healthy, just, and sustainable food systems. Key-note speakers spoke of Indigenous food systems, land-based education, and community-based research regarding food systems. Students were also there presenting research through a traditional style presentation or a pecha-kucha (concise and fast-paced) style presentation. Students presented on a variety of topics including sustainable crop barley, protein quality of pulses, youth and wild rice, food waste, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Keynote speaker Dr. Shailesh Shukla from the University of Winnipeg presented on Indigenous food systems as a way of life and feeding the future; Learning from community-based case studies from Manitoba, South Asia, and Nigeria alongside Gerald Mason, a teacher from Fisher River Cree Nation. Mr. Mason has developed and taught the Land-Based Program at Charles Sinclair School in Fisher River. The program was developed after the community noticed that although youth are interested in eating Indigenous foods, they are not so interested in harvesting, cooking or preparing them. The land-based curriculum is for credit and starts in fourth grade. Students can enroll in the program until grade twelve. Although the land-based education program is considered high-risk programming due to transportation, the tools used, and the surrounding wildlife, such as wolves, students are still eager to enroll in the program as the program reaches capacity every year. In the program, students learn how to hunt, fish, trap, harvest, and garden. The program teaches students patience and the value of sharing as food is shared first with elders, then with the community during a feast, and the food that remains goes to themselves.

One student’s pecha-kucha style presentation titled Starting the day in a good way: Working with youths to invent breakfast recipes using wild rice discussed how youth designed their own granola and breakfast bar recipes using local wild rice.  Wild rice, known as manomin in Ojibway, is an important food for the northern Ontario Anishinaabe community of Wabaseemoong Independent Nations. During a series of breakfast recipe workshops, Wabaseemoong Independent Nations youth were given recipes that outlined suggested ingredients and amounts. This method gave students the freedom and creativity to design their own granola and breakfast bar recipes while using wild rice as an ingredient. In the end, there were seven different kinds of granola and breakfast bars. The youth sampled each one and ranked the recipes for an overall sensory experience.  Before the wild rice breakfast recipe workshops, youth in the community did not like the way wild rice tasted or looked, however now breakfast bars made with wild rice are being enjoyed by youth as they are served during the Mizhakiiwetung school breakfast program. Youth enjoyed the workshops and said they enjoyed personalizing recipes as it helped them gain confidence in the kitchen.

Through the land-based education program in Fisher River Cree Nation, the wild rice breakfast workshops and the Mizhakiiwetung school breakfast program in Wabaseemoong Independent Nations, Indigenous youth are gaining important values such as patience and confidence while being involved in their local food system.

Photo from previous Manomin harvest.

Photo of Good Food Wheel from Food Systems Research Group

Written by Victoria Wojakowski, Research Intern



UOMFSSC. (2018). Food Systems and Sustainability Symposium – Food Systems Research Group Graduate Student Symposium June 27, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2018, from