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  • Further Education Society of Alberta

Top 3 Moments That Defined FESA in 2023

Indigenous Outdoor Cooking and Tipi Building
Indigenous Outdoor Cooking and Tipi Building

So, we kind of did a lot of stuff in 2023. From one-off events in Calgary, holding raffles, visiting the Saugeen First Nation, starting new programs, holding our Casino fundraiser, to travelling to London, UK. For our last blog post of 2023, we wanted to revisit some of the moments that defined FESA this year!

Launch of the Homework Club

Singing Circle at the Mustard Seed's Manchester Community Impact Centre
Singing Circle at the Mustard Seed's Manchester Community Impact Centre

In 2023, we were presented with an amazing opportunity to deliver a Homework Club program when the Mustard Seed Manchester Neighbourhood Centre reached out. The 2-hour weekly evening sessions provided a safe place for school-aged children between the ages of 6 years old and 12 years old in the Manchester Neighbourhood and fostered the development of children’s literacy and social skills.

We held our first Homework Club session on March 7th. This program was such a hit with the community that it continued throughout the year, and is scheduled to continue in 2024 as well. Not only that, but The Calgary Mustard Seed is so happy with FESA's work, that they have asked to expand our program to their other Community Impact Centres throughout the city.

"The parents of children, in this area of Calgary, are typically newcomers to Canada and are working to provide basic needs for their children. The club provides continuity between school and home by giving children time to finish their homework and engage in outdoor play, arts, and crafts activities while parents finish work. Providing a caring, one on one, nonjudgmental space for children to ask for help with homework was the first objective."  — Filomena Abdi, FESA Facilitator

Interview with Saugeen First Nation Elders, Youth, and Leaders

Saugeen First Nation Youths with FESA Staff
Saugeen First Nation Youths with FESA Staff

Back in May, FESA staff and members of the Coady International Institute were invited to the Saugeen First Nation by Elder Ningwakwe George.

We explored youth leadership and governance in Saugeen First Nation. We spoke with Elders and knowledge keepers, youth, community members, and past and present elected leaders about what makes a good leader. Ideas for how youth can become leaders, Indigenous youth leadership programs, and assessing the needs and challenges for aspiring youth leaders were topics of discussion.

The knowledge and suggestions gathered from the interviews will shape and guide proposed Indigenous Youth Leadership and Governance Programs. Four elements that emerged as foundational to leadership were:

  • Understanding Identity—who we are and where we come from

  • Future Generation/Seventh Generation Thinking

  • Living in two worlds

  • A deep understanding of oral history

Cooks With Stones London Trip

(London, UK)

FESA Team with Canada House Team
FESA Team with Canada House Team

Cooks with Stones continued to evolve and grow, its profound impact being recognized nationally and internationally led to new partnerships and opportunities. This year, Indigenous youth and chefs from the program were invited by the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom, in partnership with Rainmaker Global Market Access to showcase Indigenous cuisine at Canada Day London on June 29, 2023. This once in a lifetime opportunity was the culmination of their time in Cooks with Stones, and a chance to inspire an international audience with their new culinary skills at a VIP reception at Canada House and festivities in Trafalgar Square.

In the months before, the students trained and prepared menus with Chef Scott Iserhoff of Pei Pei Chei Ow and Chef Dean Herkert of Bistro on Notre Dame. They also received training and support for travel preparation and passports, completing food safety tickets and confidence to meet and greet people at the events.

Chef teach Indigenous students how to cook
Chef Dean Herkert with Shawna Linklater and Cooks with Stone London Team

When Canada Day London arrived, the menus they had curated with their mentoring chefs took centre stage. Under the direction of Canada House Executive Chef Gavin Sayer and Chef Dean Herkert, they delighted the VIP audience at Canada House with a menu of venison, wild rice, berries, and Chaga tea.

It’s an honour for all of us to serve the guests of Canada House Indigenous cuisine rooted in traditional food sources. Our dishes showcase how the Indigenous Youth have applied traditional cooking methods in a modern context with authentic, delicious results! - Chef Dean Herkert

In Trafalgar Square, the group greeted the public and shared Cooks with Stones from a marquee tent in the Indigenous People of Canada feature at the festivities. Next to the tent was a Food Truck featuring a venison shin poutine they created with Chef Scott Iserhoff which had been inspired by the incorporation of potatoes in the First Nations’ diet.

It feels like a special opportunity to show everyone our skills. I’ve never been out of the country before. It seems like a great opportunity to show everyone our catering skills and what we can do in a different country. — Cooks with Stones Participant

This incredible opportunity to build culinary skills, network and explore another culture was the result of hard work, support, and many partnerships. We want to give a special thanks to our corporate supporters, Dig Insights, Timko Developments Ltd and Air Canada, everyone who purchase 50/50 raffle tickets to support, and the many others that supported Cooks with Stones London.


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