By Jacquelyn Wright, President & CEO
Have you ever heard the story of the three-strand cord?
A tradition in many cultures, it illustrates the strength in community. One cord, on its own, is easily snapped. Two cords – much better, but still able to be snapped in half. Three strands woven together are nearly impossible to tear.
I think of this story often when I visit Indigenous communities across Canada. Sweetgrass is a sacred plant in many Indigenous traditions. When braided or woven together the grass is strong and durable. The metaphor of the strands woven together is a powerful symbol of partnership. Together, the three of us are stronger: the community, Canadian Feed The Children and you.
Many of these communities lack the resources to unleash the potential of the next generation. Families too often struggle to provide for their children. In remote locations, where nutritious food is scarce and expensive, many children don’t get the daily nutrition they need. That is why Indigenous communities experience double and triple the rates of malnutrition, hunger and preventable disease than others in Canada.
Robyn* lives with her “kokum” (grandmother) in Beardy’s & Okemasis’ Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. The community works together, Elders with youth and children, so that important traditions, language and life skills survive and are passed on.
Robyn’s grandmother, Patty*, celebrates the possibilities when the children learn about the life of their own people. Robyn is learning the importance of honouring the land and about the food the land gives to the people. The community garden is a perfect example of this. Each seed they plant, water and care for is a symbol of their respect for the land.
Because of the generosity of people like you, Robyn and her kokum are learning and participating in traditional activities within their community. They took cooking classes together, attended cookouts and powwows. Robyn learned all about berries in the community garden. Robyn listened intently as her kokum told her about the buckets needed, how to properly twist the berry from the branch, and how to offer a gift of thanks to the plant before returning home.
“I had a lot of fun,” says Robyn. “We picked two buckets of berries! Now I want to show other kids all the steps of berry picking.”
Robyn’s kokum tells us she is proud of the way their community works together. “Love and respect can be seen in our families. We need to teach our children our way of life and how to survive off the land.”
As we look towards National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, we celebrate families like Robyn’s and we look to the future where all children can thrive. Join with us and Indigenous communities to renew hope and make lasting change possible.
Thank you for being an essential piece of the “cord” and working in partnership in the spirit of reconciliation to strengthen families like Robyn’s and Patty’s. You’re helping to feed children, empower communities and change lives.