Indigenous Terra Madre 2019 – Asia & Pan-Pacific in Ainu Mosir
The third major edition of Indigenous Terra Madre was held in Ainu Mosir, the homeland of the Ainu people on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, from October 11th-14th. The event had two main focuses: the resilience of indigenous peoples in the face of the climate crisis, and the necessity of empowering our youth to become the leaders of tomorrow that our communities and our planet need.
Over four days of workshops, conferences, songs, dances, prayers and foraging tours of the traditional Ainu lands, the vital importance of the Indigenous Terra Madre network within the wider Slow Food movement was reaffirmed. Peoples whose food cultures have been colonized, subjugated and in some cases almost lost celebrated the strength and the conviction of their elders, younger generations, and the transfer of traditional knowledge between them.
For the first time at an ITM event, every single participant had an active role in the program, and each had a space to share in workshops or through a traditional performance of dance, song or prayer. The youth also had dedicated spaces and workshops and conferences which were self-organized and self-managed.
The 200 delegates representing peoples from 27 countries concluded the four-day event by sharing a series of commitments that they will endeavor to carry forward in their communities when they return home. These were focused mainly on engagement work to assist communities in coping with the climate crisis, asserting their rights to their ancestral lands, and promoting food education programs both for children and adults, as well as protecting food biodiversity, making links with chefs, empowering women, creating indigenous food media, and building networks between peoples’ in the same countries and internationally.
As a gathering of indigenous peoples who represent both a wide cultural diversity as well as a deep, common spirituality, it was decided that the congregation should compose a prayer rather than a formal declaration. This prayer urges all the delegates to be “brave, gracious, courageous and joyful”, and asks our Mother Earth—Terra Madre—to “allow our food to be the medicine that heals and restores our hearts and heritage, and brings balance to all the life on earth.”