June 21 marked National Indigenous Peoples Day, and to celebrate and honour the day, Travis brought Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek dishes to the Grove Park Home menu. We interviewed Travis to learn how it all came about and to hear his takeaways from the day.
What got you thinking about Indigenous food in care?
I never really considered Indigenous food in healthcare prior to becoming a member of the Nourish cohort. After learning more about traditional foods from other cohort members, I realized that there is a lot that needs to be done to promote Indigenous foods in Canada and to educate the public.
Why does it matter to you?
It was important to recognize Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek people. The area is rich in their history, and I believe it was an opportunity to share their culture and cuisine with our residents, families and employees.
Tell us about your process to create a new menu for this day.
Initially, I reached out to Kathy Loon and Kelly Gordon, as well as Hayley Lapalme who provided me with some feedback on menu creation. That gave me a good baseline to develop the menu. Then I did some research on the Huron-Wendat and Anishinabek foods, and spoke with a family member who is actively engaged in sharing Indigenous traditions.
What's on the menu and how did you develop it? Where did you source the food?
The menu consisted of Three Sisters Soup, we used a recipe sourced online. We were originally going to serve a maple glazed trout but had difficulty sourcing a suitable cost-effective product, so we went with salmon. From there it was accompanied with blueberry bannock (which was a commercially sourced tea biscuit), maize (corn) and for dessert was fresh strawberries, sourced locally.
How was the menu received?
The menu was received quite well, and the promotion of Indigenous Peoples day engaged our staff to discuss further. We had the adult day program staff even prepare a First Nations treat consisting of warm apple slices, cranberry and berries.
What reactions did residents give? What about staff?
We have a small contingent of Indigenous residents, but the most popular menu item was the Three Sisters Soup. We had numerous staff thank us for doing something to recognize the Indigenous population. It was well received.
Will you do it again? Same or different?
I would absolutely do it again. I didn't give myself enough time to source product. In the future, I would get in touch with a local Native Friendship Centre or one of the many reservations close by to source better recipes and menu item options. It can be difficult to develop a menu in long-term care that is appropriate for an ailing population that we serve.
What advice do you have for others who are thinking of bringing traditional foods into their own menu?
A few suggestions for others, as said above: connect with your local Native Friendship Centre, traditional food specialists, and even clientele that you serve. Do research on the items you are serving so that you can educate the people you're serving. Have fun sharing and learning!
Thank you Travis!