Healthy Schools BC Stories

Community: Nanaimo
School Name: Wellington Secondary School
School District: SD068
Health Authority: Island Health Authority
School Level: Secondary
Category: Healthy Eating (general)
Inquiry: No
CSH Approach: No
Receieved HSN Grant: Yes
Date Submitted: 30/11/2015
Carlo Pavan
Education Sector

Cultural Lunch: Exploring Indigenous Culture through Food

In an effort to increase cultural understandings between our Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students and staff we started an event called “Cultural Lunch”. These weekly events allowed students to explore Indigenous culture through foods in a safe and delicious manner while learning about connections they may not have otherwise been aware of. Not only did Cultural Lunch fill a need for a hot, healthy meal option for students at the school, but it also provided opportunities for some students to obtain some commercial food preparation skills as well as building awareness, understanding, and appreciation of local Indigenous culture.

Students were made aware of Cultural Lunch through posters around the school as well as announcements that explained the cultural connections of the dishes being served. Things like clam chowder, or wild salmon with vegetables and rice had fairly straight forward cultural significance, but the link to Chinese stir fry noodle-boxes was not as obvious. In fact, both Chinese and Indigenous people faced similar discrimination and exclusion from European settler communities for many years across Canada driving the two to form strong bonds lasting to this day. When spending time in many Indigenous communities you may observe that Chinese food remains a favourite staple among families and at community meals!

The Healthy Schools Network Activity Grant was an instrumental part of getting this event off the ground and to the point of success that it now enjoys. Cultural Lunches have become financially sustainable and will continue through the next school year as a popular event with lines of 50 people forming outside the kitchen every week. Delicious healthy food with meaningful cultural connections serving as an apt vehicle for increased awareness, understanding, and appreciation for local Indigenous culture has been a welcome addition to the Wellington School tradition!