November 7, 2019 Corner Brook—On Sunday November 3, the small community of St. George’s welcomed visitors for a special tourism experience that can’t be found anywhere else; a rich sensory event featuring medicine identification and collection, hands-on preparation of tea and traditional foods, cooking on an open fire, cultural sharing, and ceremonial teachings.
St. George’s Indian Band Chief Marlene Farrell partnered with Experience Qalipu to deliver the event, one of a larger series of events aimed at building upon the talent of community people, empowering them to share their gifts with visitors from around the world. The St. George’s Band, owner and operator of the Ktaqmkuk Mi’kmaq Museum, hopes to attract more visitors into the historic building that has been converted into a museum and cultural centre.
Chief Farrell noted, “Visiting the museum is one thing, but we want to offer more to our visitors. This community is the oldest recorded Mi’kmaq settlement on the island, and we have talented people who can offer workshops, guided tours, experiences and so much more. The fire circle and medicine walk on Sunday is an example of that and we’ve got more in the works.”
At Sunday’s event, visitors helped to prepare locally procured moose, potatoes, carrots and berries alongside Chef D’Arcy Butler, an active member of the Bay St. George Indigenous community and culinary instructor at College of the North Atlantic.
“These ingredients are timely; many community people have just got their moose, and this is what we are eating. The root vegetable harvest is ongoing; carrots for the event were picked sweet and fresh that morning. We wanted to offer visitors a true taste of our town, to share the story of the hunt and to know exactly where our ingredients were hunted and gathered. In the winter, for our next event, we are looking at making use of rabbit as the main ingredient, along with some of the preserves that Newfoundlanders have long relied on to get through the winter.”
The fall rain did not dampen the spirit of the participants, who were advised to come dressed for the weather and, they came prepared in their raincoats and boots. Elder Terry Muise lead them on a short walk through a nearby forest to identify medicines and collect ingredients used in their meal. Rose hips were collected for addition to the Labrador tea and fir needles were collected to be ground in with sea salt to season the meat and vegetables.
Local photographer Jonathan Meyers and filmmaker Matt Garnier used their talents to capture the event in detail and provide the St. George’s Indian Band colourful media content that will help promote these types of events in the future.
Tara Saunders Acting Director of the Community Development Department and Experience Qalipu noted, “this is exactly where we want to be; helping our communities to thrive and prosper. This event put off by the community is a terrific tourism product, and we will be there every step of the way to help them develop and promote their local experiences.”