Wiisinadaa (Let’s Eat!) Program
MANDATE & GOALS
The Wiisinadaa: Let’s Eat! program is a food security and diabetes prevention program designed to improve health outcomes for urban Indigenous people, including those with diabetes, by providing and increasing access to traditional and nutritional foods, educational information on healthy eating and meal preparation, and teachings on ways of growing, harvesting and preparing traditional foods. The program intends to enhance and support already operating diabetes programs and services at the United Native Friendship Centre and in the community by coordinating and delivering food-related services, activities, and initiatives for community members of all ages. It is a community-based and Indigenous-specific diabetes prevention program that seeks to improve health outcomes for urban Indigenous people of all ages by increasing access, knowledge and skills related to healthy eating, preparing nutritious and traditional foods, and Indigenous ways of knowing.
The primary goals for the Wiisinadaa program are to improve long term health outcomes for the urban Indigenous population through reducing the harmful impacts of diabetes and related chronic illnesses. This is further supported by promoting the prevention of diabetes and chronic illnesses through improving access, knowledge and skill-building opportunities around healthy eating and everything related to traditional foods, knowledge and systems.
PROGRAMMING & SERVICES
Wiisinadaa is delivered in a variety of ways, which include services designed for both direct service users and participants. These include activities and programs as well as coordination.
Direct-service user activities include, but are not limited to:
- Food/meal provision through food banks, food boxes, community meal programs, food vouchers, et cetera with an educational component and emphasis on healthful choices (i.e. instructional videos on how to prepare Good Food Box contents; teaching direct-service users how to make baked bannock as an alternative to fried bannock);
- Life skills activities like cooking classes, budgeting classes, nutrition classes, canning, drying and preserving, et cetera that empower direct-service users to lead healthy lifestyles that are sustainable;
- Land-based activities (i.e. hunting, fishing, trapping, berry picking, gardening, harvesting, et cetera) and related traditional teachings; and,
- One-to-one system navigation supports.
Participant-based activities include, but are not limited to:
- Friendship Centre-wide community meals, including seasonal traditions and celebrations (i.e. feasts, socials, circles, events, et cetera);
- Coordinating ceremonies and/or teachings from local Elder or Traditional Knowledge Keeper on traditional healthy eating practices and Indigenous understandings of well-being; and,
- Integrating with other Friendship Centre programs, such as Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living and Life Long Care, to provide healthy meals, information and teachings on nutrition and the connections to diabetes and chronic diseases, and/or physical activity supports for program participants.
Wiisinadaa also contributes to the community-based healthy living, food insecurity, and traditional food related partnerships throughout the UNFC. Some of these activities may include:
- Overseeing food purchase, preparation, and storage for all Friendship Centre programs and initiatives;
- Leading and/or coordinating Friendship Centre community garden work;
- Creating and maintaining strategic partnerships within the community and region to support Friendship Centre food initiatives;
- Coordinating with local and regional health services to improve access and quality of diabetes prevention, education and management supports for urban Indigeneous people; and,
- Providing advocacy and outreach on issues related to food security and urban Indigenous health needs.