PHSA’s Indigenous Youth Wellness (IYW) team serves to support Indigenous youth and families in B.C. by promoting wellness through programming that creates opportunities for connection and community. One of these programs is Culture Bites—a YouTube series launched in early 2022 to spread awareness about food sovereignty among Indigenous youth in B.C. To date, the program has released nine episodes of around 10 minutes, each featuring Indigenous voices and traditional knowledge.
“Growing up in an urban context, I didn’t have access to a lot of traditional foods. Harvesting, fishing and hunting wasn’t a part of my life until I was older,” says Jakob Knudsen, IYW program coordinator, Indigenous Health. “Culture Bites is a video series about Indigenous traditional foods and contemporary foodways that helps us to spread awareness about food sovereignty among young people. For me, food sovereignty means different things to different people. For urban populations, I hope Culture Bites can spread awareness about the variety of Indigenous foods and harvesting methods. For those living in a rural context, it can be about expanding knowledge about nutrition, healthy eating and how traditional foods are superfoods.”
Joining in January this year, Jakob is considered a “Jack of all trades” on the IYW team as he provides support on a number of projects. Jakob explains that the best part about working with the IYW team has been the laughter, adding that the in-office days are always something to look forward to. The Culture Bites project, he says, has been a labour of love for the entire team.
“Everyone on the team chips in to support this initiative in some way, whether it's coming up with an idea for a new episode, helping make connections in community, or running a joke by the team to make sure the humour is appropriate,” says Jakob. “We have a common vision of what we want to make available for the youth—something that is engaging and respectful. Collaboration is a huge part of our process.”
In addition to Culture Bites, the IYW team also runs the Ask Auntie and Cuystwi (whowee-stwee) online programs, as well as a podcast hosted by Elder Gerry called Teachings in the Air. With a provincial scope, it's important for their programs to be as accessible as possible, especially for those in rural areas. The team primarily works in-community to build personal connections and relationships with Indigenous youth. “This work is really important to each of us personally,” says Jakob.
The next episode of Culture Bites is now available to watch on YouTube. You’ll learn how to smoke salmon as well as the breadth of its uses and methods of preparation. There’s also some great conversations about the responsibility of hunters and harvesters. You can also watch previous episodes on this YouTube playlist.
While the series was created for Indigenous youth, there’s a little bit of something for everyone. “It's so important to learn about the cultures around you,” says Jakob. “It promotes understanding and by being aware of the people in our community, shows a respect that isn't always afforded cross-culturally.”