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First Nation Environmental Group Guides Aboriginal Youth to Healthier Eating

Edmonton, Alberta – Oct. 12, 2012 – Canada’s Aboriginal youth are learning and sharing more about harvesting, cooking and eating traditional foods – like wild fruit, teas, animals, fish and birds thanks to an interactive website launched by the Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources today.

Indigenous Foods First (www.iffculture.ca) will be unveiled at the national Dreamcatcher Youth Conference in Edmonton today profiling videos from Aboriginal youth who are sharing what they know about indigenous foods and learning how to harvest and cook them. The youth videos include first person stories on everything from early lessons on hunting prairie chickens in T’Sou-ke First Nation, B.C. to fishing for pickerel in Sagkeeng First Nation, Manitoba.

CIER is also helping kids make the connection between a healthy earth and healthy diet, says CIER executive director Merrell Ann Phare.

“First Nation young people across this country are reconnecting with their cultures. Learning about indigenous foods is a fun way to start this conversation with other young people and within their communities. People are looking for ways to be healthy, inside and out, and sharing the connections between food, the land, language and culture helps create that wellbeing. At our new interactive website young people across Canada can get informed, share ideas, try new recipes and meet other indigenous people talking about Indigenous Food First!” says Phare.

No one understands the difference eating traditional indigenous foods can make better than Shianne McKay, a University of Alberta conservation biologist graduate, mother of two-year-old twin boys and the new IFF Coordinator.

“When I started eating traditional foods I lost weight and I had more energy to keep up with my boys,” she laughs. “Part of my job is to show kids that our traditional foods are healthier. They are unprocessed and are natural. They have no salt or refined sugar, very little fat and are high in nutrients and fiber. Some plants also have healing and medicine value as well,” McKay said from her booth at the Dreamcatcher Youth Conference, at Grant McEwen College in Edmonton.

The IFF website is made possible with funding from Government of Canada; support from Canadian Heritage; Public Health Agency of Canada; Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative and First Nation and Inuit Health Branch.

About Us: CIER is national, First Nation-directed environmental non-profit organization with charitable status, established in 1994 by a group of First Nation Chiefs from across Canada. Through its programs, CIER takes action on climate change, building sustainable communities, protecting lands and waters and conserving biodiversity. It is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba and does work across Canada. www.cier.ca.