“The Foundation of Our Movements”: Midwinter’s Harvest and Meeting House

by Jeff Shantz
Punching Out (NEFAC Toronto)

“The foundation of our movements, often unacknowledged, is our ability to take care of each other.” These words from Sue Collis, a resident of Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and longtime OCAP member commenced the July 17 groundbreaking ceremony for the “Midwinter Harvest and Meeting House,” a facility that will serve as a processing and food distribution center as well as a community meetinghouse at Tyendinaga. The Midwinter Harvest Food Program was recently initiated to provide, in the words of organizers, “healthy, culturally appropriate foods to First Nations, poor and homeless people and defend our Territories against environmental destruction.” The Midwinter Harvest will grow and process food locally at Tyendinaga while making food available to residents of the Territory and homeless people in cities such as Toronto and Ottawa. This has both continued and developed the tremendous solidarity shown by the Mohawk community at Tyendinaga who have long provided food for homeless people in Toronto as well as preparing meals in support of anti-poverty demonstrations.

The Harvest and Meeting House will serve a number of educational, cultural and nutritional needs at Tyendinaga, where no such facility currently exists, as well as providing a space of unity for residents and non-residents to share and develop our strength together. Because the particular needs and cultural requirements for food processing cannot be met by off-reserve businesses, and because of a general need to break reliance on business operations as a whole, the processing facility will fill a crucial role, especially given the centrality of fish and game as major staples in local households. In additon, as Sue Collis noted at the groundbreaking ceremony, the center will serve as a place to educate new generations in traditional practices. Affirming the connection between sustaining our environment and the capacity of our communities to sustain ourselves in struggle the Midwinter Harvest organizers emphasize that the program is “on the land and appreciates its natural power and seeks to raise the fighting spirit of our people and give direction and purpose to the generations who will come after us.”

Members of Punching Out (NEFAC-Toronto) and the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) joined folks from the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee (TDRC), Syme-Woolner Community Centre and PARC (Parkdale Activity-Recreation Centre) on the bus to Tyendinaga to take part in the groundbreaking ceremony. More than sixty people took part in the ceremony and all were treated with the wonderful hospitality of our hosts.

This is a program with great significance and tremendous potential, both in sustaining ourselves and our communities and in building friendship, comradeship and solidarity across communities. As Midwinter’s Harvest organizers suggest, “control over one’s food source in culturally and nutritionally appropriate manners is an integral piece to the strength of any self-determining people.”

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This article is from the second issue of "Strike!"

Strike! is a tabloid newspaper covering the ever important struggles of working people in the Northeast and across the world. From community and workplace resistance, to the fights against racism and sexism as well as international turmoil, the struggles that rock your world are brought to you here with a fresh anarchist-communist perspective.

Strike! is the English-language agitational publication of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC). We are bilingual federation of revolutionaries who identify with communist tradition in anarchism. Our activity in the last few years has focused around radicalizing the broad struggles of our class, in the streets, in our workplaces and in our neighborhoods.

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