Grayce is an 11-year-old member of Eel Ground First Nation, a Mi’kmaq community with a population of approximately 900 people located on the Miramichi River in northern New Brunswick. A budding horticulturalist, Grayce loves to help her mom with her garden and help out in the Natoageneg School garden.
Last summer, Grayce made a video (watch below) of the Natoageneg School garden with the help of Sage, a summer student working with the school to breathe new life into the garden – a crucial element to the school’s nutrition education program.
Prior to the pandemic, and now that Grayce is back in school full-time, she has been learning about the importance of nutrition and healthy foods. She tells us that she and her fellow students are learning that healthy food makes you feel better and stronger, whereas foods with too much sugar and salt can make you feel tired and cranky after eating them.
Some of Grayce’s favourite meals from the school nutrition program are fresh fruit and yogurt, protein squares, and fresh veggies. “I think it is important that we have meals at school because some kids may not have access to healthy meals at home. In order for your body to feel right and your brain to be healthy, you need to fuel it with healthy food to learn.”
Although the past couple of years have been challenging in terms of access to affordable and healthy foods from the land, the community is making real strides to make sure these foods are available. Grayce explains that the local gardens, along with the food shared by the community’s hunters and fishers, have made a big difference in providing food for all.
“In order for your body to feel right and your brain to be healthy, you need to fuel it with healthy food to learn.”
When we asked Grayce what her favourite thing was about living in her community, she told us “being close to all my friends and feeling like we are all one big family.”
Grayce loves participating in land-based activities. She was excited to tell us that she recently learned how to skin a moose. Although the community’s traditional practices can take more time, Grayce knows it is worth the fruits of their labour. “Eating healthy can be a lot of work sometimes but it is nice knowing that it is fresh and there is nothing added to it,” she said.
Grayce is optimistic that Natoageneg will be able to provide community members with healthy foods right here on the land and that no one will have to travel to get it: “I am proud of my Mi’kmaq culture and how my family and community work together as one to improve our healthy living and relationships with food and each other every day,” she said.
Listen to our podcast First Comes Food, where we go on a journey through Indigenous food forests in Saskatchewan, farming communities in African countries and early childhood community programs in Bolivia to meet the people who are growing food security for everyone. Their stories may surprise you.
First Comes Food is now streaming on our website and wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.
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