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Nän sothän ts'ú ts'į. Let’s make the land good. Happy Earth Day 2024.

Heart-shaped yarrow from Mayo, Yukon. Photo Credit: Catherine Littlefield.

This Earth Day, we call on our communities to celebrate the beautiful Earth by honouring our deep relationship with the land through food. We reflect on food as a sacred relationship of the Na-Cho Nyäk Dun and as a gift from the Earth. 

Earth Day originated as a grassroots environmental movement in 1970. It is a day to advocate for balanced relations with the Earth and to show support for environmental protection. It is also a day to honour a deep commitment to healthy and vibrant Earth systems, which importantly include food systems.

The health, safety, security and sovereignty of our food is dependent upon the health and safety of the Earth. In order to have diverse, nourishing, and vibrant foods, we are responsible for working in harmony with the Earth’s natural cycles and respect the sacredness of all living beings. 

Catherine, our Food Systems Researcher, heard from NND community members of the deep importance of natural foods from the Earth for well-being. Our community places great importance on protecting the land and waters so that future generations will be able to experience abundant, healthy, and cultural foods – an ancestral right and responsibility. 

NND ancestors ensured collective survival for millennia through traditional food practices rooted in respect for Mother Earth and community care. Life was organized around land and food systems, following seasonal, plant, and animal patterns, and working within the natural biodiverse cycles that have provided for generations. 

Traditional food practices teach us about honouring the Earth. Some important teachings include:

  • Respect the food and share the food.

  • Practice responsible harvest: take only what you need, not what you want.

  • Give thanks to the land, plants, and animals that nourish us.

  • Protect the land, waters, and food for the children of tomorrow.

This Earth Day we express our deep gratitude for food as a gift from the Earth. From the smallest berries to the biggest moose, our food sources are gardens of medicine and gifts of well-being. Reflecting on food as a gift encourages a relationship of respect, responsibility, and reciprocity with the land, taking care of that which cares for us. 

At NNDDC, food sovereignty and security are priority focus areas. By considering food systems in the work we do, we strive to not only strengthen our community’s food security, but to also nurture a deep connection to the land and each other. Whether it's hunting, preserving berries, processing and drying meat, learning about medicinal teas, or preparing a meal, food practices are acts of gratitude and love for the Earth that sustains us.

We are so excited to have opened the doors to Ihdzí’ earlier this month. Our community has expressed how important it is to have places to come together to create, learn, and gather around food, and doing so is a wonderful way to honour the Earth. We are committed to continuing to grow Ihdzí’ a creative, accessible, and inclusive community hub. We look forward to continuing to welcome you into this space in different ways. 

As we celebrate Earth Day 2024, we invite you all to join us in honouring the sacred gift of food from Mother Earth. Whether you tend to your own seedlings, support a local food producer, share a meal with someone, or give thanks for the taste and sustenance of the land, let us come together in the spirit of caring, sharing, respect, and teaching. May we protect this beautiful Earth to thrive and provide for generations to come.

Happy Earth Day! 


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