Curtis Clear Sky says Landback for Indigenous people means food security because food is grown by the land.
Curtis Clear Sky remembers the first time he accepted the offer to go out to the UBC farm, and the mix of people who boarded the bus. As they drove past the trees, Clear Sky was amazed at all the growing things and believed they had like 20 acres of farm. But the real joy began when they sat down for a community dinner - Clear Sky realized food was medicine.
“For me, I knew at that point, I felt like, man, this feels really right. This feels good. I wanted that to happen again. I thought to myself, I got to make this happen again. I got to make sure that I'm getting involved and I'm supporting the community and getting involved in creating spaces like that, where we can sit together, enjoy food together, and that we're no different from each other. That we're all the same. We're all one. We're connected,” said Clear Sky.
And he’s been working for food security ever since. From 2013-2016 he was working with the Tyu’wut Project at the UBC farm and now works with the First Nations Food System Project which helps over 70 First Nations communities in British Columbia gain autonomy over their food.
And for Clear Sky food security means getting the land back.
“So there are systemic social impacts that have caused harm for our people and that connection to food and the urbanization of Indigenous peoples,” said Clear Sky, and he added some people have chosen to move to urban centres to seek opportunities but colonization has disrupted Indigenous connections to the land. “We need to reclaim our connection to our territories.”
Clear Sky is Blackfoot and Anishinaabe says his people have always had a deep connection to the land and the food they ate and harvested. And says the land loss Indigenous communities have suffered have led to food insecurity. But through acts of resistance people like him are trying to reclaim those connections to food.
“Building those relationships and those strengths are one of the keys to empowering ourselves. The knowledge is something that we still can attain. Our connection is something that we can reclaim. It's a beautiful thing when we're able to reconnect and reclaim those things,” said Clear Sky.
Clear Sky is also a musician with Curtis Clear Sky and the Constellationz and as he moves as an artist he believes food and music often intertwine. And in the meantime Clear Sky will continue to advocate for food and how special it is to Indigenous people.
“One of the first things that I've learned in my experience in relation to food is that food is a spiritual experience. And for us as Indigenous people, food has always been a spiritual experience for us. It's what has sustained us, it's what's given us our lives,” said Clear Sky.
Thanks to Oscar Baker III for authoring this article.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.