Skip to content

Conference aims to mobilize food skills and resources in qathet

Organizer hopes to strengthen systems throughout the region
FOOD SECURITY: An unconference is a dynamic event designed to ignite conversations and collaborations for strengthening local food systems. Kate Sutherland and Vancouver Island University’s tiwšɛmawtxʷ campus are partnering to present the Food Systems Unconference on Saturday, June 8.

Food enthusiasts and those who want to meet others with a passion for strengthening local food systems in the qathet region can attend an event next month at Vancouver Island University tiwšɛmawtxʷ campus.

Community changemaker Kate Sutherland said the Food Systems Unconference is an interactive gathering aimed at  mobilizing the skills, resources and passion in the community to shape a sustainable and equitable food future.

The term “unconference” is meant to emphasize that the gathering does not include planned workshops or obligatory goals like a traditional conference.

“An unconference is a dynamic event designed to ignite conversations and collaborations that will strengthen our local food systems,” stated Sutherland, in a media release. "The agenda is co-created by participants and encourages active participation, collaboration and the sharing of diverse perspectives and expertise."

In an email to the Peak, Sutherland stated that strengthening food systems has multiple dimensions including: production, processing, distribution, consumption, access, food literacy, cultural appropriateness and climate resilience.

Sutherland posed the phrase and question: How might we grow more food here or overcome the barriers to growing more food here?

"How might we process more food here, improve food distribution here and increase the circularity of food systems?" she asked. "For example, finding ways to reduce food waste or ways to recover food waste, and keeping our compostable waste here versus shipping to another jurisdiction."

Sutherland hopes to address issues such as improving access to healthy food for people who are food insecure.

"What actually gets talked about at the event will depend on the interests and passions and knowledge of the people who come," stated Sutherland. "People have said in different ways that there is so much potential and so much happening here [in qathet] and that we have great knowledge, we have land, we have people with passion and lots of interest in food systems and food security."

Sutherland thinks many good things to do with local food security are already happening, but could be stronger if more people knew about them and helped to take them further. 

"What is needed are ways to connect the dots," she added. "You may have knowledge to share, an initiative you’d love to support or a passion for food systems without yet having found a way to plug in."

Sutherland hopes her event will help people with similar interests find each other, with the intention to keep nurturing the relationships and ideas that emerge from the day.

"Unlike traditional conferences, the Food Systems Unconference is free and open to all members of our community; no registration is required and drop-ins are welcome," stated Sutherland. "The event is a platform for our community to come together, share ideas and collaborate towards building a more sustainable, resilient and just food system for everyone."

For more information or to attend the Food Systems Unconference, which takes place from from 12:30 to 5:30 pm on Saturday, June 8, contact Sutherland at [email protected] or Elyse Freeborn at [email protected].

Join the Peak’s email list for the top headlines right in your inbox Monday to Friday.