Guest Post: On Don Cherry’s seal burger

In response to Don Cherry’s comment on seal meat, one of the members of Meal Exchange wrote:

In reflection, two things stood out.

First, coming to this article I knew little to none about seal meat. I can imagine Don Cherry probably didn’t know much about it either but unfortunately went on to make statements asking Ron Maclean why he had a seal burger, commenting if he was a barbarian or a salvage. This created controversy, offending people who did consume seal meats. As a respected host and opinion on Coach’s Corner, I would think he would be more careful with the choice of ‘jokes’ (if it was one) he made if that was his intention.

As a psychology student, Cherry made generalized statements that clearly had a repercussions in the media. Simply put, if the social norm of diets does not currently include seal meat, it does not excuse anyone from commenting on different foods that they did not like. Beef, lamb, pork are more regulated and culturally accepted. Rabbit or seal are not as culturally accepted, and clearly not by Don Cherry. “Sealing is important to Inuit culture and tradition” tweeted Leona Aglukkaq and in her culture, it is a norm. I then pose the question where does moose, caribou or bison meat stand? They are not regulated as extensively as the aforementioned but it seems more of a cultural delicacy than barbaric.

Either way, it was a comment that was not necessary and as Ron Maclean had attempted to make the pun after Don Cherry had interrupted him, it was quite flippant.

Second, my first thought was the sustainability of hunting of seals and if it was ethically approachable. There are groups that are against seal fisheries but for a more clear summation of the current situation on seals, I would like to direct you to Government of Canada website: []. It discusses the myths and realities of Canadian Seal Harvest providing more background information. There do exists seal population, no endangered and are hunted on a commercial basis. It is also a traditional part of Inuit culture.

In summary, I see seal as rather a delicacy like caribou and bison, and that’s what I believe Ron Maclean also thought as he was visiting Newfoundland. Somehow, this went sideways with an insensitive comment by someone who wasn’t even there. My wish is that it’s not solely a “hope” that Don Cherry won’t make such statements again, but that he actually learned a little more from this incident. He has refused to comment anymore and so I guess we will never know.

If you’re interested though, you can always send him a message, tweet @CoachsCornerCBC.

Michael Kwok

5th Year BSc of Psychology

University of Calgary Meal Exchange Ambassador

First Things First: a Formal Foundation for a Function

In the realm of event management, having a theme is important. It’s simply fundamental. Whether the scope of the event is small (like a workshop) or grand (like a conference), having a clearly defined theme ensures focus and cohesiveness throughout the event, because decisions made by organizers are then intentional and effective.

Up until this past Monday, Hunger Week was a blank slate. The event is a collaboration between the University of Calgary’s Students’ Union and the Meal Exchange chapter, and from my understanding the event has always carried a certain flexibility. It was decided on Monday that this year we would gear the event towards wellness. That is:

Hunger -> Food -> Wellness

The theme of Wellness lends itself a balance of specificity and adaptability. Student life involves a series of stressors: academic performance, social life, family life, a part-time job, volunteering–these constitute the recipe list of the modern student’s to-do list in their post-secondary education, and so developing personal wellness is necessary to achieve success in the myriad areas. But don’t take it from me personally (because I’m still working on my balance); here’s the model the University of Calgary’s Wellness Centre uses–the dimensions of wellness that impact health and wellbeing:

  1. Physical
  2. Academic and Career
  3. Emotional and Psychological
  4. Financial
  5. Social and Cultural
  6. Environmental
  7. Spiritual

Like I said: specific yet adaptable. The objective now is to develop a week of events and activities that promote a balance of these dimensions, using food as the platform. It’s not going to be easy, but contributing to a healthier campus is worth the effort. Meal Exchange and the Students’ Union can do some neat things together this semester–stay tuned.


The Road to Hunger Week 2015

If one were to peruse the archives of this blog, they will note that the most recent posts are from ten months ago, just in time for Hunger Week 2014. These posts are immediately preceded by one from fall 2012. For a blog that began in July 2011, there has been an admittedly low level of activity. That’s going to change today.

My name is Jessy and I’m one of the co-coordinators of the Meal Exchange chapter at the University of Calgary. Our chapter is part of a nation-wide network of campuses through which students engage their communities to address food security. As a student, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to raise awareness of a social issue.

What can you expect from this blog in the next few months? Regular (weekly) updates on: event management, strategic planning, collaboration, team dynamics, student engagement, and of course, food security. This will culminate during Hunger Week (March 9 to 13), an effort to raise awareness, start conversations, and engage the campus community around food security both locally and nationally.

The chapter will also be hosting various Days of Service, which are sessions for students to get involved in a local cause while learning more about the volunteer sector in the City of Calgary.

It is my hope that readers will gain an appreciation for what Meal Exchange strives for, while also getting a glimpse into what student leadership is about–I’m a believer that any student can get involved on their campus and have an impact.

Be sure to follow this blog (there’s a neat button to your right) to stay updated.


You Can Vote to Change This System Three Times A Day

Thank you to those who were able to make it out to the showing of Food Inc. for Hunger Week. For those of you who do not know about Food Inc., it is a documentary that shows the where out food comes from. It speaks to the issues of meat processing, crop production, healthy food and the power of the food industry.
In our discussion following the film, people were seemingly frustrated with the predicament that faces consumers when it comes to food. This frustration stems from the fact that eating healthy has become such a mystery to people. The options that are readily available for consumption may not be the best for you and although the participants of this discussion identified that this is an issue, a question that came to the forefront of discussion was “how can this be fixed?”

The action steps to relieving this frustration are clouded by a lack of easily accessible information. It became obvious that ignorance was a major issue when it comes to current food issues in our society. Ignorance comes in the form of not knowing how to eat healthy, in the content of the food in grocery stores, and in procedures behind the creation of food. Something that we considered in our discussion was respect within the food industry. This respect spreads across the animals, the workers and the consumer. Each of these aspects plays a pivotal role in the survival of the food industry but not all of them are respected in the process of creating our food. The film, Food Inc., brought this to the attention of the participants of our discussion.

From the argument of information about food, we began to discuss how socioeconomic status plays a role in this issue. People who are able to afford to eat healthy are better able to gain nutritious and healthy food. We began to discuss that the foods that keep us healthy are only available to the people who are able to afford these foods. Food Inc. gave a good example of this issue with a family who had to choose between buying a head of broccoli at the grocery store or a dozen hamburgers for the same price. The healthy choice was clear to the consumer and to the film audience but the family made and interesting and important point, should you buy the item that is healthy, or the item that will fill the stomachs of your family members? Debates like these are brought on by the fact that healthy food is not readily available.

This discussion led us to the idea that we are not going to be able to save the world with our thoughts but action can help! There is the tendency for people to believe that they cannot change the world with their actions because they are just one person. What is most important is that you take the information that you have, learn what you can about how you can implement it into your life and become aware. Learn about where your food comes from and choose for yourself if that is something that you ethically support. There is a quote at the end of Food Inc., “you can vote to change this system three times a day” which is true. Your actions can make a statement. Make sure the statement that you are making is one that you support fully.





Hunger Free Calgary

“What inspired you, Keoma, to work for the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank over these 10 years?”

“What inspires me the most is the potential individuals have” answered Ms. Keoma Duce, program coordinator at the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank. She further elaborated in her response in saying that she believes everyone has potential to do something great if they are supported in the right way at the right time.

In our first event for Hunger Week, we had the honor to hear a presentation by two representatives from the Calgary Food Bank. On the large scale, the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank has helped individuals to pick themselves up through meal supports and also tackling route causes such as substance abuse through referring them to other organizations for further support. Thus, 82% of the clients never revisit the food bank more than three times in their lifetime. Last year, 129,948 families and individuals used the food bank and 42% of their clients are children which is equivalent to having 3 Saddledomes fully seated.

On a smaller scale, Keoma Duce and Nicolle Amyotte also shared a few touching and motivating stories that showed the impacts of the Food Bank on a personal level. In particular, Keoma mentioned that there was young boy that came with his family to the centre for support because of temporary financial difficulties. At the end, the young boy held onto an ordinary muffin and began digging into the muffin with joy. Keoma later realized that the muffin was the boy’s breakfast and lunch. The muffin meant the world to him. In another case, the can of soup that a young boy received after their parent’s divorce gave him hope and motivation for him to volunteer and give back to the food bank 20 years later.


As Keoma concluded, each can of soup could have an impact on another person just like us. Small actions like volunteering or donating few non-perishable items could mean everything to a child who is struggling to eat. Thus, there is a place for everyone to contribute, either big or small. It is the goal of Meal Exchange to raise awareness and rouse action within the upcoming generation that will shape the future of our society. So please come out to attend our other events in the upcoming week. Our next event is tomorrow at 7-9pm where “Food Inc” will be shown and a short discussion will follow.