The UTSG UofMosaic team held our second successful event on November 29th, 2016, titled Haiti’s Kitchen: Aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, Development Aid & Food Insecurity in Haiti. The event was in partnership with the Community Kitchen, a student-led program at Hart House (a campus hub for student life and community engagement) which fosters a unique space focused on bringing together students, staff, and community members for a cooking session infused with engaging dialogue.
For this event, our team was able to co-host with the Community Kitchen organizers at Hart House, who allowed us to run the dialogue portion of the night. In our initial planning stages, we presented the organizers with this idea to discuss the most pressing issue at the time— Hurricane Matthew, which resulted in a great collaborative event.
We were all familiar with the failures of humanitarian aid following the infamous earthquake, and wanted to explore our relationship to Haiti’s development as Canadians. We featured Kevin Edmonds, a PhD candidate and course instructor in political science and Caribbean studies at UofT, to lead the dialogue portion of the night. The evening was coupled with a delicious menu inspired from a local Haitian restaurant.
Although we had initially planned for a small event due to the limited capacity of the kitchen, we ended up reaching out to more individuals than expected, including Toronto-based Haitians who had heard about this event via social media.
The kitchen and dinner spaces were perfect for facilitating casual and free flowing discussions.Students and community members were able to learn from our guest speaker as he provided a nuanced perspective on the systemic issues facing Haitians. Edmonds’ talk highlighted Haiti’s colonial and postcolonial history, including the ways in which Canada’s explicit and implicit participation sustains conditions that have contributed to the crippling of Haiti’s agricultural capabilities.
From our perspective, what made this event successful was that attendees were able to engage in the cultural production of cooking while simultaneously being informed about the contextual significance of these foods. This was truly a community championed event and we are grateful for everyone who attended. Proceeds from the dinner tickets have been donated to SAKALA, a Haitian youth community center that has created a safe space to support youth well-being and positive development.
Blog written by: UofMosaic Fellows at University of Toronto, St. George Campus (Millen Melles, Matthew Lipton, Naveeda Hussain, Nishani Chankar and Anah Mirza)