Over 100 people attended the inaugural DAREarts First Roots Feast, on Thursday, February 26 at Madsen’s Banquet Hall in Newmarket, Ontario. Top Chef Canada’s Rich Francis prepared the Traditional Feast with a twist along with Huron Heights Secondary School Hospitality and Tourism Program for this fundraiser to help empower Canada’s FNMI children.
Rich Francis, along with Hospitality and Tourism Program teachers Laura Butler and Marilee Sadler, led the students in a marathon cooking class that was infused with game meats, indigenous produce and a gourmet twist. Most of the food was donated. Youth volunteers (Huron Heights’ PEACE Club and Hospitality and Tourism Program) served up the Feast in a deliciously warm atmosphere.
Outside, it was minus 20C and inside, the greenery sparkled above tables decorated with centrepieces designed and donated by Karin Stiege. On the dogwood branching, we placed the First Roots Feathers that were created by Broadacres Juniour School’s Grade 5 and 6 students. Each Feather carries a “wish” from a Broadacres child for an First Nations, Metis and Inuit child.
These Feathers raised funds for First Roots programs and 100 of them will be tweeted so that those messages get out to kids in remote communities, bridging cultural and social gaps that exist for Canadian children. You can help the program! Purchase a DAREarts First Roots Feather by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Your $20.00 will further enhance FNMI programming and you can pass on your Feather as a gift along with its wish.
Suzanne Smoke opened the Feast with a Smudge Ceremony and a prayer, and the Sacred Spirit Dancers provided Teachings about Ceremonial Dancing. Newmarket native and recording artist Glenn Marais sang songs of inclusion and Cathy Elliott performed a original song called “Watching Feathers Fly,” about setting examples for our children, inspired by the words of Elders to kick off the Feather campaign to raise awareness and funds for arts programs that empower children to find their inner passion and become leaders.
This event would not have been possible without the generosity and hard work of volunteers Gary Curran and Sandra Turnsek of Newmarket, who assisted Cathy Elliott to organize the partnership between Huron Heights and DAREarts as well as the coordination and logistics involving fresh food donations from providers as far away as Sudbury, Ontario. Thank you Gloria Hope for manning our “Northern Store.” A very special “Meegwetch” to Madsen Greenhouse’s owners, Ole and Lisbeth Madsen who generously donated the beautiful venue.