Uniting Creativity and Cuisine: Northern Arts and Food Conference Celebrates the Intersection of Art and Food

 Artists, farmers, and food processors are all makers. They are creative, whether it be through visual arts, performance arts, or culinary arts. They are entrepreneurs. They are founders.

Between March 24th and 27th, The Northern Arts and Food Conference demonstrated the incredible intersection of arts and food, both deeply rooted in cultural heritage and traditions.

At the heart of the conference are its skill-building workshops, conference sessions, and collaborative learning activities. These sessions serve as more than just educational opportunities; they’re spaces where all participants in the art and food continuum come together to not only hone their craft but also to uplift their creative economy.

“At the conference, I’ve received a lot of ideas about how to promote art in our communities and expose the gifts of the artists. I want to see the arts flourish and to incorporate food into this as well. We have many skillsets in our community and resourceful people. I want to help preserve what is already in our community and find ways to support greater self-sustainability.”

                  – Marguerite Sanderson, Mosakahiken Cree Nation/Moose Lake

A highlight of this year’s workshop was the exploration of Indigenous food and its integration into art and education. Led by Ruby Bruce, whose roots extends into Anishinaabe, Ininiwok, and Red River Métis heritage, attendees delved into the relationship between traditional Indigenous foodways and contemporary creative expressions. Their presentation not only highlighted flavours and ingredients but also shed light on the stories and cultural significance woven into Indigenous culinary practices.

 The conference covered a wide range of topics relevant to makers and producers of all kinds. From assessing the monetary value of creative endeavors to practical aspects of entrepreneurship, workshops offered both inspiration and tangible strategies for business development while sustaining creativity.

The conference emphasized collaboration and inclusivity. By bringing together stakeholders and collaborators under one roof, the Northern Arts and Food Conference fostered an environment where ideas flourished, connections were forged, and new possibilities emerged. Partnerships with Food & Beverage Manitoba, Creative Manitoba, ImagiNorthern, and University College of the North were instrumental in fostering this spirit of unity and shared purpose.

 “As a southern Indigenous resident, beadwork artist, and experiential tourism operator, there’s so much I’m taking away from this conference. We down south need to know what’s going on in our province, and outside of our province in our country. As an artist, it’s very important to see what other people are doing. Some of the challenges are going to be the same, and some are going to be different. I’m a huge advocate for working together. Even though it’s a Northern Conference, this conference is for everyone. Manitobans don’t realize what gems northern Manitoba has and I’m a huge advocate of talking about northern Manitoba. If you haven’t been here, you have no idea what you’re missing.”

–       Melanie Gamache, Founder of Borealis Beading, Ste. Genevieve

At its core, the Northern Arts and Food Conference is about more than just individual skill-building; it’s about cultivating a stronger, more resilient creative economy that honors the diverse traditions, cultures, and talents of Northern Manitoba. This renewed sense of nourishment, community, and purpose resonated with all attendees, who are already talking about ways future initiatives and learning together.

“Working with Rocket Greens, we’re already very focused on food and community. I am learning a lot more about how I can bring this work into the art collective. We’re talking about a lot of different ideas for the Churchill Creative Collective about how to bring these two things together with a commercial kitchen, retail and more. I have a lot of ideas I’m thinking about.”

–       Jayden Chapman, Sustainability Coordinator at Rocket Greens, Churchill  

 In the intersection of art and food, the Northern Arts and Food Conference is a testament to the power of food and creativity to unite, inspire, and transform.

 “We’ve been so grateful to be invited to support the Northern Arts and Food Conference this year with our project, meet so many talented people, and build meaningful relationships in our work. Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s conference, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!”

– Erica Wilson & Katie Daman, Northern Arts and Food Project (Food and Beverage Manitoba, Creative Manitoba)