Wild foods topic of local conference

TEMISKAMING SHORES - Ni Dakinan, the Natural Resources and Heritage Department of the Timiskaming First Nation, will be presenting a two-day conference at Riverside Place in New Liskeard March 23 and 24.

Planting the Seeds of Cultural Forest Knowledge will allow participants to learn more about plant identification, and about local habitats for plant species and the symbiotic relationships that happen in the forest with plants and soils, and with trees and fungi.

Ni Dakinan administrator Tara Dantouze said in a telephone interview that the event will also be an opportunity to hear about sustainability for forestry practices and to network with a view to building networks and partnerships.

There will also be a showcase dinner prepared by award-winning Anishinabe chef Cezin Nottaway of Kitigan-Zibi, Quebec, who will be using many of the wild foods that are being harvested in the forests, said Dantouze.

"We are always trying to build our program and bring in experts to teach ourselves and also to teach the community members," she said of this and similar events that have been presented by Ni Dakinan.

"We are trying to encourage people to reconnect with the forest and learn about the forest in terms of what the wild foods can contribute to our diet." She said Ni Dakinan is looking to grow a network of harvesters who may be interested in working together, or may be interested in selling their products to the Wild Basket, which is a project of Ni Dakinan.

The Wild Basket is a selection of wild foods harvested and transformed into ready-to-eat products that are sold on the market at select stores in the region, Dantouze said.

"We're looking for choice edibles which are really delicious food products," she explained. She said DNA results will be shared of truffles that were found locally this past summer.

The conference presentations will be made by people who have built the Wild Basket over the past years, she said. A certified forester will also be there to talk about trees and the symbiotic relationship between trees and fungi, she continued.

The event is open to the general public for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Tickets are available through EventBrite.

Darlene Wroe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker