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Handpicked: Stories from the Field

Presented by the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, Handpicked: Stories from the Field is a podcast series that showcases research that drives positive change in our food systems—ways we produce, gather, eat, understand and dispose of our food. Produced and hosted by Amanda Di Battista and Laine Young, the series presents compelling, real-life stories of food practitioners, such as farmers, policymakers and activists. Episodes follow researchers and community partners in their efforts to make their food systems more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable.

Sep 22, 2023


Hosted by: Dr. Marylynn Steckley 

Produced in collaboration with: Dr. Sonia Wesche, Victoria Marchand, & Dr. Josh Steckley 


In this episode of Handpicked: Stories from the Field, we present an episode of the Indigenous Health and Food Systems Podcast called, “Environmental Dispossession, Land, and the Environment This podcast is hosted by Dr. Marylynn Steckley from Carleton University and is produced in collaboration with Dr. Sonia Wesche and Victoria Marchand from the University of Ottawa and Dr. Josh Steckley from the University of Toronto, Scarborough. The Indigenous Health and Food Systems Podcast aims to elevate the voices of Indigenous scholars in the areas of Indigenous health, food sovereignty, and the social determinants of health. This episode explores the complicated nature of Indigenous connections to land, and how that impacts Indigenous food systems. The guests in the episode explore ideas of environmental dispossession, traditional Indigenous food practices, and environmental stewardship.  



Co-Producers & Hosts: Laine Young & Amanda Di Battista  

Producer: Charlie Spring 

Sound Design & Editing: Laine Young & Narayan Subramoniam 



Dr. Kahente Horn-Miller 

Dr. Hannah Tait Neufeld 

Ida Harkness 

Emily Charman 

Chanel Best 

Brette Thomson 

Hannah Arnold 


Support & Funding 

Wilfrid Laurier University 

The Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems 

Balsillie School for International Affairs  



Music Credits 

Keenan Reimer-Watts 

Keith Whiteduck 





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Glossary of Terms 


In Marxist thought, the separation of humans from meaningful engagement with their lifeworlds, specifically through wage labour.  

Colonialism has been defined as systems and practices that ‘seek to impose the will of one people on another and to use the resources of the imposed people for the benefit of the imposer’ (Assante, 2006). Colonialism can operate within political, sociological, cultural values and systems of a place even after occupation by colonizers has ended. Colonization is defined as the act of political, physical and intellectual occupation of space by the (often forceful) displacement of Indigenous populations, and gives rise to settler-colonialism, colonial and neo-colonial relations, and coloniality." 

The Coming Faces/ Seven Generations 

The Coming Faces is a metaphor for future generations that will need food, water, and land (Horn-Miller – this episode). It is a way of acting with future generations in mind and aligns with the Anishnabek principle of the Seven Generations (Steckley – this episode).  

Crown Land  

Land owned by the provincial government.  


An act of physical and spiritual removal of people from land, an act of colonization. 

Environmental Dispossession 

This describes the loss of land and physical displacement that has resulted in Indigenous populations experiencing trauma, poverty, health and other social problems. 

Environmental Stewardship 

“The responsible use and protection of the natural environment through conservation and sustainable practices to enhance ecosystem resilience and human well-being" 

Food sovereignty 

"Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems." 

Grounded Normativity 

“Term by Indigenous scholar Glen Coulthard to describe Indigenous peoples’ relationships to land and place, and the solidarity that emerges from this." 

Indian Act 

A policy enacted by the federal government in 1876 which led to the elimination of any Indigenous self-government, mandated attendance in residential schools, banned Indigenous spiritual and cultural activities, removal of land, and other discriminatory actions. 

Land Back  

“a movement that has existed for generations with a long legacy of organizing and sacrifice to get Indigenous Lands back into Indigenous hands.” 

Original Instructions 

The constellation of teachings and ethical guidelines for living: for hunting, family and ceremonial life, and so on. 

Residential Schools 

The Indian residential schools operated in Canada between the 1870s and 1990s, with the goal of assimilating Indigenous people into settler society. These were ran by the Canadian government and various churches. Over 150,000 Indigenous people are estimated to have attended these institutions. Indigenous children were separated from their families, forbidden to speak their traditional languages, and many suffered extreme physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and sexual abuse, neglect, and death. 


Unlike reconciliation, Indigenous resurgence focuses less on reconciliation with settlers, and centres around Indigenous nations determining how Indigenous rights, recognition, and relationships with other peoples will be respected.  

Three Sisters 

Corn, beans and squash: three crops grown in symbiotic relationship in some Indigenous communities. In Haudenosaunee storytelling, the Three Sisters sprouted from the body of Sky Woman’s daughter. 


Discussion Questions  

  1. What is land? 

  1. What are some of the different ways that speakers described relating to land and land ownership? Why is the ‘family cottage’ a delicate conversation in Canada?

  1. In what ways do the concepts of Coming Faces and the Three Sisters speak to environmental sustainability?

  1. How does ‘land dispossession’ differ from ‘environmental dispossession’?

  1. How does history and the ongoing colonization faced by Indigenous people affect the food system?

  1. How could the return of land through the Land Back movement positively impact Indigenous people’s access to traditional foods and food practices?

  1. Many of the students in this episode expressed challenges with discussing the ideas of stolen land and the Land Back movement with their families. If you were going to discuss this with your family, what language and ideas would you use?