Indigenous Food

One of the great things about living in Toronto is the food. With so many cultures, flavours and fusions, the opportunities to explore the world through your taste buds are endless. Indigenous food has been vastly underrepresented in mainstream culture and has been gaining traction in the foodie scene over the last few years.

NDN Taco

Photo Courtesy of Pow Wow Cafe

In certain First Nations cultures, the feast marks much more than simply mowing down on delicious snacks with friends and family. Feasts represent ritual and the marking of important milestone events such as marriages, births, deaths, etc.They also occur as gift-giving ceremonies between tribes and members. Many West Coast Indigenous nations celebrate with potlach ceremonies, which were banned from 1885 to 1951, and some feel that the effects of these bans are still felt by Indigenous communities today.

(Read more about the potlach ban by clicking here)

As more Indigenous food expands in Toronto and beyond, it is not without controversy. Ku-kum is an Indigenous restaurant run by chef Joseph Shawana, who grew up in Wikwemikong, Manitoulin Island. Ku-kum (pronounced KO-kum) translates to “grandmother” in Cree. Chef Shawana’s menu showcases a diversity of Indigenous dishes, and his recent decision to serve seal tartare has been met with division. A petition to remove seal meat from the menu and a counter-petition to educate people about Indigenous food practices has almost equal support, nearly 5,000 people for each. If you are interested in more information about this, I highly recommend the documentary Angry Inuk directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, which is available full-length from Media Commons at Robarts or for purchase via the National Film Board.

(Click here for the Angry Inuk trailer)

In the meantime, here’s a list of some Indigenous restaurants in Toronto if you’re looking to try something new!

NishDish

690 Bloor St West

Hours: 9:00am-5:00pm

416-835-7484 or visit www.nishdish.com

 

Tea N Bannock

1294 Gerrard Street East

Hours: 11:30-9:00pm

416-220-2915

 

Pow Wow Cafe

213 Augusta Ave (Kensington Market)

Hours: 11:00am-8:00pm

416-551-7717

 

Kukum Restaurant

581 Mt Pleasant Rd

Hours: 5:00pm-10:00pm

416-519-2638

Peanut Butter and Banana Frybread

Photo Courtesy of Pow Wow Cafe

First Nations House also offers weekly Lunch and Learn on Tuesdays, a series of events geared at focusing on Indigenous issues with scholars and delicious, healthy food is served! Follow First Nations House @UofTFNH and The Centre for Indigenous Studies @IndigenousUofT on Facebook and Twitter for more info.

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