TraditionalFood EN

We see justice in a broad, holistic sense, and believe that the land plays a strong role in the healing process. It is a fundamental Eeyou Istchee principle, as that is where the Cree values come from. Since we cannot bring detainees on the land, we bring the land to them, in the form of traditional foods.


A renewed sense of belonging

A strong and healthy self is essential to create the conditions for success in other areas.

While in detention, individuals have plenty of time to think and reflect on their past and future lives. Bringing traditional food to them is a way to feed them not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It reminds them of their identity, and the values they should abide by. The traditional food program is about building trust, understanding and assisting in the healing process for Cree detainees who will be returning to our communities in the future. We would like to work closely with them while they have the time to work on their growth, so their reintegration has a greater possibility of success.

The food also provides them with the strength and the “fuel” their body is accustomed to. It provides them with a taste of home.


A seasonal menu

The selection of foods varies with the seasons, aligning with the hunting periods. For example, in the spring, meals include geese; in the summer, fish and wild berries; and in fall and winter, moose, beaver and rabbit.

Detainees are usually very enthusiastic and grateful for this food offering. Traditional meals are also shared with non-Cree Aboriginal detainees.

It is also about giving, we ask former detainees and at risk youth who are in our programs on the land to donate food to help those who are still in custody. The groups are happy to contribute, and it is a part of a circle of support that will hopefully continue when they reintegrate back into their communities.


Developing bridges for the future

By visiting detainees and bringing them these foods, we also have an opportunity to develop relationships with them. This way, we start building some of the bridges and support they will need when they reintegrate their community.

This program is currently offered in certain detention facilities only, with the objective to extend it as widely as possible. It follows the Department philosophy of community that we work with other institutions and organizations to provide the most complete support for Cree detainees to grow and rehabilitate.