Diaconal minister Karen Tjaden reflects on a week at the Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre with Indigenous community leaders and settler allies to reclaim the homebred, the homespoken, the homegrown, and the homemade. Photographs from Michelle Owen’s experience at the Feast for Friends.
Centred around the sacred fire, a wonderful community based on an immersion experience in sustainable food emerged at Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre this week. It was a privilege to be part of the circle with Sandy Saulteaux students and other Indigenous people from their communities.
The conversation and collaboration between Ploughshares Community Farm and the Centre created a lively dialogue and respectful cultural exchange. We practiced reconciliation as we slowly built genuine relationships while sharing knowledge and skills of slow foods from wild rice to local pork sausage, smoked white fish to alfalfa sprouts, wild blueberries to vegetables with flavours and textures new to many of us.
Together we prepared wholesome, slow foods and while we peeled and chopped and stirred we experienced Spirit in our midst. We gathered each morning around the fire with ceremony and Bible stories so that we could start our day in a good way.
Shoon brought wild rice harvested at Grassy Narrows and a wealth of experience of the traditional wild rice harvest. We took turns dancing on the wild rice and let the wind help with the winnowing process. After a few days work, wild rice porridge graced our breakfast table. We laughed together as I handled fresh frozen white fish for the first time and learned how to salt it and place it on the smoker we had built together. What a treat as we enjoyed it that
evening with potatoes which had been dug that day from the Centre garden. We even stretched a hide and began the long task of scraping it with a variety of hand made tools in preparation for tanning.
We learned that some amazing things can happen in a week and that other projects simply take more time and longer effort. At the end of our week together we welcomed many more people to Feast for Friends and shared some of what we had been learning. We left this sacred circle carrying gifts of food and friendship that will continue to sustain and nourish our ongoing work of reconciliation back in our home communities.
I am so thankful for the ministry of Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre and for the gift of regular study leave that challenges me to continue growing in faith!
Karen Tjaden serves in ministry with folks at Crossroads United Pastoral Charge. She is a graduate of St. Andrew’s College and the Western Field Based Diaconal Program. She says, “I appreciate having CCS close by and I often enjoy the hospitality the Centre offers as I gather with others at meetings and learning events.”