about us

Our Mission & Values

Ojibiikaan was founded in 2018 to address gaps in Toronto related to Indigenous food sovereignty, such as food and nutrition education, sustainable food systems and practices, and traditional ecological knowledge. Ojibiikaan provides opportunities to engage with the land across the City to Toronto and the outer city. We connect with the land through activities like medicine walks, snowshoeing, sugarbush tapping, gardening and traditional cooking. Our programming is always centred on ceremony, offerings, songs and storytelling. We take a holistic approach that centres and honors the land, have knowledge of protocols, ceremonies and ways of relating to the land and are an entirely Indigenous team that has understanding of the historical, cultural and social significance to the land.

language & Cultural Revitalization

Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Advocacy for urban Indigenous visibility

We value community, culture, sustainability, transparency, respect, youth empowerment, intergenerational learning, food sovereignty, and seven generations teachings.

About The Indigenous
Food Sovereignty Movement

The term food sovereignty was coined in 1996 by the members of the Via Campesina (peasants) movement, started in Central and South America. The movement was sparked from the need for farmers and growers producing the food to have control and voice in regards to policy making within the food system.

The movement strongly focused on the right of people to have access to foods that are culturally appropriate, and that are produced in a ethical and sustainable way. The most important aspect of the food sovereignty movement is that everyone has a right to define their own food and agriculture systems.

The ideas and values of the food sovereignty movement quickly spread across Turtle Island, gaining a strong momentum in the United States and moving to Canada shortly after. Indigenous food sovereignty is about our communities having access to our land, ceremony and traditional foods that nourish our heart, mind and body. The relationship with land and our foods is sacred. We have a responsibility, as individuals and communities, to honor and nurture our relationships with the land, plants and animals that provide us our food.

Indigenous Food Sovereignty In Toronto

Ojibiikaan provides tools and resources needed to grow and harvest our traditional foods in an urban setting in the City of Toronto. Our gardens are centered on traditional growing and harvesting techniques rooted in ceremony, storytelling and thanking mother earth for the space she provides to us to grow and learn together.

Our approach to gardening is to first understand the space in which we will start gardening. Listening to and knowing the space involves observing the critters and animals, lighting patterns, looking at the soil structure and getting to know the water. We make sure that when planning the garden space that we look at accessibility and how people would access the space. We provide a space the allows our participants to create a relationship with the growing space that is self-determining.

Some traditional foods &
medicines we are growing

Sunchokes, Sage, Tobacco
and The Three sister crops: squash, beans, and corn

Benefits to an Indigenous
food sovereignty approach

– The relationship is deeper than just consuming food to live
– We eat the foods that we have consumed for centuries
– It will help heal our communities and our mother earth
– It’s rooted in ceremony, storytelling, honoring our land, plants, and animals

Some traditional foods
we are revitalizing

Moose Meat stew, Three sisters stew and Wild blueberry pudding

Indigenous food sovereignty supports our reconnection to our relationship with the land. We can grow own food and contribute to the revitalizing of Indigenous growing in a urban setting.

Ojibiikaan

Staff & Board of Directors

Laura Suthers

Program Manager

From M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, Laura attributes most of her cultural and traditional knowledge gained at a young age from working alongside Elders, knowledge keepers, artists, and other youth.

Cheyenne Sooley

Communications Facilitator

My name is Cheyenne Sooley (she/her), I’m Ojibwe from Beausoleil First Nation. I’m the communications facilitator at Ojibiikaan and I help manage our social media pages! I have my SSW from Durham College and my B.A in Psychology from Carleton University. I’m passionate about Indigenous outreach and ensuring that there are accessible programs available for the community, as well as a spot for youth to connect with culture and the community in an engaging way. I am proud and excited to be a part of this team, and learn more cultural teachings along the way.

ETHAN DANKERT-LANNIGAN

 Cultural Team Lead

Ethan Dankert-Lannigan’s (they/he) family is from Big River, Saskatchewan with a lineage tied to Duck Lake, Batoche and the Red River Metis Nation. They were raised in Guelph, ON and later moved to Toronto In 2017.

CHRIS MERKEL

Mobile Cultural Coordinator

Chris Merkel is from the Tahltan Nation of northern British Columbia through his father’s mother’s family line. Chris grew up in Port Sydney, ON (about 2 hours north of Toronto).

CHEYANNE VALENCIA-HINDS

Mobile Cultural Coordinator

Cheyanne Valencia-Hinds is Cree from the Attawapiskat First Nation. She is of the Bear Clan. She was born and raised in Mississauga, Ontario.

Kiyana Johnston

Mobile Cultural Coordinator

Kiyana Johnston is Ojibway from Neyaashiinigmiing Ontario (Cape Croker Ontario). She is Otter Clan and is born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. After High School Kiyana attended Seneca College for Early Childhood Education where she continued her passion and career with working with children and families.  

CHEF JOHL WHITEDUCK RINGUETTE

Board President

Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette is Anishnawbe and Algonquin. He was born in North Bay, Ontario and his grandmother is from Nippissing First Nations. His clan is Mink clan.

Nathan Wright

Board Member

Charlotte Big Canoe

Board Member

 

Charlotte Big Canoe is the Program Curator for Indigenous Projects at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Her father’s family is from the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation, in Sutton Ontario, and her mother’s family is Irish settler. Charlotte is passionate about creating spaces for Indigenous youth to feel they belong as their full selves, and providing opportunities for youth to connect with positive role models. Charlotte currently lives in Tkaronto, on treaty 13 territory.