December is a time for all kinds of cultural celebrations and traditions. At WHC, we have an annual seasonal tradition of our own; to share some helpful advice about how to have a healthy relationship with food, through the holidays and beyond.
This year, we are all challenged to figure out how to sustain our meaningful personal connections under the current public health restrictions. Through our work, we’ve found hope in our understanding of the diverse and deep ways food connects us all, in our home communities and the world over.
Our wish is simple: we desire for every person, in every circumstance and situation, to have access to nutritious food without barriers. Quite simply, we want the same things for them as we want for ourselves and our loved ones – to be healthy, happy and safe. We know it’s not an easy accomplishment to make our wish come true, but we believe in our deepest hearts that it is possible.
Over the years, we’ve learned a lot about people’s relationships with food. We’d like to share some of those teachings now. Food has always been at the centre of our human connection, and it is so much more than just necessary fuel for our bodies. Food is an important part of nurturing our spirits. It’s a beautiful way to show how we value and care for others and ourselves.
We believe in food as a source of joy and encourage folks to embrace all the natural pleasures and delights that food can offer. We know that sometimes peaceful relationships with food are not just possible, but important for our wellness. We know and understand that every one of us has our own unique relationship with food – and that those relationships can be often be complicated.
This year our traditional conversation about food is going to look a little different. This holiday season, it’s just not possible to join together to share food in celebration in the usual ways we might have planned or hoped for. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to challenge all of us to reflect and discover creative new ways to meet our unapologetically human need for kinship and connection.
In this way, we deepen our understanding of the connective power of food. We see how it binds us, not only to those who we hold dear in our hearts and welcome into our homes, but to all humankind.
Covid-19 has been a most unkind teacher. It has imposed loss and grief on a global scale that at times feels impossible to bear. Its lessons are harsh but vital for us to heed. They shine a light on many deep-rooted social problems – both new and longstanding – that exist in our own communities as well as in faraway places. The pandemic has demanded our collective attention and action.
It highlights the importance for social and political leaders of all sectors to work together for the most basic of human rights – to create sustainable solutions to address global inequalities in access to food and water.
The pandemic continues to teach critical lessons about what it means to hold power and privilege in our society. And it compels those who possess this power to use it for the greater good.
For many of us, these teachings have shown how food production and distribution intersect with our systems of commerce, government, and health. We can see where these systems are fractured… and where essential collaboration between them is nonexistent. There is much work ahead for all of us.
As we continue to grow and learn through the ongoing challenges of this pandemic together, we hope that each of you will find moments for rest, reflection, and regeneration. In whatever ways you may celebrate this season – or not – we wish each of you moments of comfort and joy that come with deep connection. Not just through the food you may eat or the company you keep, but in the certain knowing that in our diverse celebrations with our communities, we will always hold a caring space for you.
Miigwetch to Elder Louise McKay for her guidance through these thoughts.