Food is Medicine: Wellness Champion Shawntei Michell – FNHA

Mar 29, 2023

Shawntei Michell has a lot of experience participating in traditional harvesting, hunting and trapping, fishing, and preserving. For the last four years, she has been dedicating her summers to her grandma’s smokehouse. Her passion for harnessing cultural teachings and practices really came to life when she had her own kids, she says. ​“The resilience, independence, and strength of my grandma is inspiring, and she is someone I look up to.”

At the beginning of her learning journey, Shawntei did “baby work,” as she describes it. Her grandma would cut salmon into skinny strips, and Shawntei would put them in the smokehouse. She did this for three years, by then Shawntei felt she was ready to learn more and take on more responsibility.

Her grandma’s knowledge – and the knowledge of other First Nations Elders – is invaluable and sacred. Shawntei tells us her grandma does not share her teachings with just anybody because they have to be received and respected. “That is why she got me to watch for years.”

Shawntei’s grandma told her, “Do you know how I learned? I watched my mom and my big sister. She never showed me, she never handed me a knife … I used my eyes all the time.”

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