Each 2015 UBC student Intern brought unique gifts and knowledge to the Indigenous Health Research & Education Garden and its programs. Read about some of their experiences below.
Kendall Andison – Feast Bowl Intern
May – August 2015
Hello! My name is Kendall Andison, and I am a visiting student at UBC this summer. I just completed my fourth year at the University of Toronto, where I studied Political Science. I am passionate about food’s ability to help foster community, health, and environmental awareness. I have several years’ experience, in both Toronto and Vancouver, working with urban farms and community kitchens. I was drawn to the Feast Bowl internship by the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of Indigenous conceptualizations of food as a form of medicine. I am particularly interested in learning about different ways of promoting and educating others about alternative understandings of food and the environment in Vancouver. I am more than grateful for the opportunity to spend the summer at UBC with the other interns, and I hope to meet everyone very soon.
My internship with the Feast Bowl, which began in April, deeply broadened my understanding of Aboriginal food systems, health, community, and how I as young person engage with all of these facets of life in Vancouver. I came to UBC for the summer 2015 term as a visiting student in order to complete my undergraduate degree (B.A.H, Political Science). I applied for the Feast Bowl internship because I was looking to integrate myself into the UBC community, engage with my passion for community kitchens, and expand my knowledge of Aboriginal conceptualizations of the environment. I was so pleased at the end of my time with the Feast Bowl to be able to recognize that my experience went far beyond those initial hopes.
What I had not fully anticipated was the extent to which the community members, Elders, staff, and volunteers involved with the Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden and UBC Farm would be so overwhelmingly generous with their knowledge and their passion. I feel so grateful to have gotten to know, and learned from, so many wonderful people. A particular highlight for me was the ability to participate in the numerous workshops held at the garden. The Medicine Collective’s workshop on salve making was a particular favourite of mine, and taught me a lot about the different ways nature can heal and care for the body. The groups that participated in the Feast Bowl meal preparation taught me about infinitely varied ways people relate to food. I was also lucky in that I got to share the summer with the other Feast Bowl intern, Jaylin. She left me with a great appreciation for the benefits of learning from other students. Her energy, humour, and dedication to sharing her love for growing and cooking great food served as a great source of joy in my semester.
While theoretical knowledge is always valuable, the benefits of spending time working and learning with a community cannot be under appreciated. For students interested in Indigenous ways of knowing, I would firmly recommend the internship program. I was quickly able to see the limitations of leaving education solely to the classroom. I learned the many ways experiential learning can complement academic training. For example, while I had been previously passionate about studying food systems, I did not realize how personally disconnected I had become from the land. By spending time in the garden with others and helping grow the food that would be later used in the community kitchen, I increasingly began to feel connected to nature and, in the process, to myself.
I feel that after the internship I am more capable of possessing a reciprocal relationship to the environment, and furthermore, more capable of continuing to learn exactly what that relationship entails. I’m profoundly thankful for having been fortunate enough to participate in the Feast Bowl internship. I feel like I’ve truly developed as an individual, and I feel excited to continue learning about how Indigenous knowledge can inform a healthier food system and a more interconnected community in Vancouver. I would like to extend a big thank you to everyone who makes the internship program at the Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden possible, and in particular to Hannah Lewis, whose unparalleled dedication to student learning has been a great source of inspiration in my life and that of many other students. – Kendall Andison