Last Monday and Tuesday four Cree women from the town of Eastmain, Québec came to Trent to demonstrate traditional meat preparation and share in a feast with the students.
Put on by the First People’s House of Learning, this year’s visit marked the third time Sally Gilpin, Juliet Weapenicappo, Sheila Weapenicappo, and Leslie Tomatuk have come to the university; an event which brings out many Trent students eager to learn how food was cooked before the microwave oven and eager to try delicious foods, some of which they may never have eaten before.
Monday saw the women in the tipi—which resides across from Gzowski—cooking bannock, a traditional bread, and making tea to share. They also brought along tree boughs to line the tipi floor, which used to serve as seating for the people in the tipi, and their own fire wood specially for the cooking of the meat.
The fire wood came from trees which had been burnt in a forest fire two or three years prior.
On the first day, they also set up for cooking the geese the next day. Poles are set in the ground for the geese to be hung above the fire in a certain way, called sagubon.
On Tuesday, the women started the cooking, making dishes from goose, moose, and two types of fish.
In the early evening, the food was brought to the Gathering Space for the feast. The layout included a moose meat shepard’s pie, moose meat stew, shoogahmon—white fish, bear grease, and blueberries—fried white fish, goose cooked in three different ways, wild rice, mashed potatoes, and assorted vegetables.
Students from across campus, members of the First People’s House of Learning, and friends all came out to the feast, crowding the Gathering Space, making a line that wrapped all the way around the room. If you’ve ever been in the space, which is a large room with a pretty calm atmosphere, you’ll know that this is an amazing feat.
The room was full of delicious smells, laughter, and good friends.
Thank you to Sally Gilpin, Juliet Weapenicappo, Sheila Weapenicappo, and Leslie Tomatuk for cooking up a storm and sharing their teachings with the Trent students. Thanks also to the First People’s House of Learning for hosting another successful event.
And if you missed the event this time around? Make sure to keep your eyes open and your stomach hungry in case the women come back next year!