Regina Indigenous-led group harvests buffalo to provide meals for those in need

An Indigenous led organization that reclaims the ways of their people to provide food sovereignty gathered at the Regina Food Bank for a buffalo harvest ceremony.

Members of the Comeback Society utilized space at the food bank to prepare, cut and package all the buffalo meat – more than 700 pounds – which is expected to last at least four months.

Alicia Morrow, chief visionary officer (CVO) of the Comeback Society, said their organization provides at least 300 meals a week to the community and about 95 per cent of the people they serve are Indigenous.

Read more: How an Alberta First Nation is working to help ‘culturally significant’ Banff bison herd to suceed

“We wanted to really think about ways that we can combat food insecurity by utilizing food sovereignty,” she said. “We thought as an agency how important it would be for us to reclaim that aspect of us, to be able to provide food to our people from the buffalo.”

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The Comeback Society met with the Peepeekisis First Nation last week to harvest the buffalo. A lot went into this process as all partners needed to understand and follow protocols.

Click to play video: 'Regina Food Bank hosts buffalo harvest ceremony to encourage food sovereignty'

Regina Food Bank hosts buffalo harvest ceremony to encourage food sovereignty

“We don’t have those traditions. We don’t have those teachings anymore that’s been lost,” said Morrow. “For us (being able) to feed our people by reclaiming something like this, I think is very monumental for us as an agency.

Rod Belanger, a self-identified knowledge keeper, said the buffalo has maintained people for thousands of years and was a mark of economic sustenance.

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“There’s a lot of things that were spoken in our ceremonies that the buffalo would one day return and we’re starting to see that,” said Belanger. “This is just the beginning. There’s a whole future of our history not yet written of what this buffalo will do for Indigenous people in our territory.”

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Belanger said there’s a spiritual connection to the buffalo within Indigenous communities and that it’s a good feeling to see people learn to harvest the animal.

The Comeback Society will be working with other First Nation communities to provide meat in a similar community harvest.

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