Shay Paul is a Secwepemc artist and student residing on unceded Secwépemc’ulucw territory and attending Thompson Rivers University. Her passion for cultural revitalization has led her to create community art initiatives and exhibitions, as well as food sustainability programs for her community of Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. She spoke to Mike Alexander.
Big picture: Large fossil fuel projects like the Athabasca Oil Sands, the TMX, and open-pit mining projects like the proposed Ajax Mine destroy biodiverse ecosystems for short-term profit at the expense of Indigenous lives and the health of the planet. When short-term unsustainable projects threaten the land, water and air, the health of the people is at the same level of risk as the planet. Food security and sustainable agriculture are tied into the issue of climate change.
Challenge: Meat is the cornerstone of the agricultural industry and raising livestock and processing products has an unseen impact on the environment. A way for [my] community to lower these emissions is to implement education about food and home economics that teach nutrition, culture, and creativity with food preparation.
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Alternatives: The latest Health Canada Food Guide now encourages a variety of different proteins, with a focus on including plant protein in your diet. The inclusion of plant protein and fresh produce is beneficial to lowering the risk of developing a dietary disease.
Community: My community in Tk’emlúps has implemented an entire food sovereignty program, re-developing old gardening plots and the community gardens located at two different areas of the reserve. We have also implemented an area of the local school to include a garden with local and traditional native plants and recorded educational information that will be taught in the elementary school. Tk’emlúps also renovated and refitted a greenhouse for community use, commencing educational workshops open to all community members. There is still some work ahead to fully integrate the idea of local food sovereignty that can be achieved as more and more people become interested and wish to make a difference.
A shorter version of this interview first appeared in Broadview’s October/November 2021 issue with the title “Shay Paul.”
Mike Alexander is a writer in Kamloops, B.C.
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