Indigenous ‘Feast Boxes’ campaign kicks off to support Indigenous businesses and families in need

A new country wide fundraising campaign has kicked off just in time for the holiday season, and its goal is to feed families in need with a traditional meal, designed by Indigenous chefs.

Feast Cafe Bistro owner Christa Bruneau-Guenther helped kick start this initiative for Indigenous Feast Boxes that support chefs and restaurants as well as families in need. The campaign is funded through GoFundMe which keeps the restaurants in business and also pays for the meals themselves.

“There are so many businesses in the same boat as us where you know we need revenue to be able to keep our doors open and keep our staff employed, and they’re asking for donations but the difference with this go fund me is that we’re saying ‘hey we’re in that same boat but we’re willing to do these kits so that we actually make some revenue.’ They’re helping us but they’re also helping the community,” said Bruneau-Guenther.

The program is an initiative of the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations (ICAN), which promotes Indigenous food through culture and community.

Feast Boxes
Christa Bruneau-Guenther, right, with one of her workers getting set in the kitchen. Photo: Darrell Stranger/APTN.

Taste of the Nations events that were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic led to an excess of cash for ICAN. They distributed the money for the first Indigenous feast boxes to handed out.

“We come to offer cultural, community and culinary influence when it comes to Indigenous food and we thought why not do a GoFundMe page, create these kits on a larger scale to help sustain jobs, help the community and our businesses,” stated Bruneau-Guenther, who is vice chair of ICAN.

Participating chefs are in many provinces including Ontario where Joseph Shawana, board chair of ICAN, is making feast boxes for residents of Toronto.

Each box will have a minimum $50 value and feeds roughly four to six people and Shawana says each chef has their own unique style.

“The boxes are going to be created by Indigenous chefs, either Metis, Inuit or First Nations chefs. We’re going to create our own meals within those boxes right that represent us. So it’s our way of telling our story to the people that are going to be receiving these boxes right,” said the Indigenous Culinary Advisor at Centennial College.

“And all the other chefs are going to put their own little spin on their recipes or the ingredients that they want and so forth.”

The boxes are designed to make cooking easier and not eliminate it entirely, and because of that, it adds a sense of togetherness between families.

Something Jasmine Tara, the Women’s Council Chair at the Indigenous Family Centre in Winnipeg says separates these boxes from other ones.

“So most of the people that got it, they felt really special. That someone had taken the time to like assemble these ingredients and tell them how to turn it into a delicious recipe for themselves and their families,” she said.

“So it really helped for people who don’t know a lot about cooking or don’t have a large pantry of available items. So the meal kits made cooking healthy, simple and delicious is what we were hearing from the community.”

The Indigenous Family Centre is one of many across Canada that receive these boxes and distribute them through their own network.

The goal is to make 1,300 Indigenous feast boxes to be delivered across the country before the end of December.

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