Chicken noodle soup and bannock were on the menu at the new Xqwiyélltśem community soup hut at Shuswap Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. (School District 83 photo)

Xqwiyélltśem community soup hut opens at Shuswap Middle School

The program runs once a week and aims to educate students on nutrition and food skills

A program intended to teach students how to cook their own meals and enjoy them in alignment with Secwepemc teachings has launched.

On Wednesday, Nov. 6, the Xqwiyélltśem community soup hut opened at Shuswap Middle School. The Secwepemc name Xqwiyélltśem means “to enjoy every morsel of a meal.” The group collective running the program believes this is especially true when people gather to cook, serve and eat with community.

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Cooking began at the inaugural soup hut meeting with a traditional song performed by knowledge keeper Pauline Saxy from the Northern Secwepemc territory. Salmon Arm city councillor Tim Lavery and assistant superintendent Ryan Brennan from School District 83 also spoke to students and members of the community in attendance. Soon after the speeches, smells of chicken noodle soup and bannock began to fill the air.

The soup hut is overseen by Theresa Johnson and Chelsey Beckman from Shuswap Middle School’s Indigenous education team and run by several students.

“This is what Indigenous principles of reciprocity look like in action,” Theresa Johnson said. “The kids are learning new skills through experience and with the involvement of multiple generational knowledge.

“Wonderful things happen when we gather together in service of one another. In addition we are practicing environmental stewardship by washing reusable bowls or inviting kids to bring their own from home.”

The program runs once a week and for a suggested donation of $2 so students who don’t have access to nutritious food can have it for free. Students prepare, cook, clean, host and account for the daily duties of the soup hut, learning leadership and fundamental business skills.

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The ingredients for the soup are locally sourced. The Metis association is sponsoring one week but the group is still looking for three $60 monthly sponsorships to fund the protein portions of their soups.

If you are interested in being part of this initiative, contact Theresa Johnson at 250-832-6031 ext. 145.


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Ryan Brennan (back left), Tim Lavery, Pauline Saxy, Anne Tenning, Patti Berthot and Chris Matheson, with Theresa Johnson and Chelsey Beckman in front gather at the Xqwiyélltśem community soup hut at Shuswap Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019. (School District 83 photo)

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