The Atlantic Canada Great Ideas Exchange

Submitted by: Kerri Abbott, Carbonear, NL

Welcoming Community Cooking Classes:

2 years ago we began consultation sessions to identify the best way to create a welcoming community and ultimately a welcoming region.  Our participants included local residents, seniors, municipal representatives, professionals, students, newcomers, settled newcomers, and those involved in newcomer recruitment.  Multi-faith organizations, the business community, and community organizations were all represented in our original welcoming community committee. The result of those consultation sessions were a series of initiatives; achievable by starting off small and building on each.

Our first goal was an annual event during Multiculturalism Week in March- embraced by the community the event has been hugely successful at continuing the conversation about inclusion.

Our Great Idea was a Community Cooking Class.  This cooking class was open to people in the community, and the region.  Each class has been taught by local people and featuring language and culture lessons during the night.  As the adults learn to cook a dish the children are in the next room creating the desert for the meal.  Everyone meets in the main room at the end of the session and shares a meal together.  Our classes began with a Newfoundland focus and have continues to include Turkish and Iraqi meals.

Through partnership with local organizations who have generously sponsored the ingredients and supplies, as well as the use of the kitchen facility at the local College of North Atlantic campus- this has truly been a community collaboration.

We paused the cooking classes during the summer and will continue again in October with a pumpkin themed class.

Why is this a Great Idea?

We have tried information sessions, presentations, kids activity days- however, none of these attempts to create an environment for participants to interact and find the common ground produced the results we were aiming for.  Combining the act of cooking, sharing a meal, learning about different cultures, and the connection between people in an organic environment has been truly successful.  People casually share their own stories as the class progresses each evening, they engage with each other because the common ground is in front of them – either love of cooking or love of learning new things.

we have spent the summer working on how to film the classes and link-up satellite locations to view the class live.  Our first cooking class will be available to 2 other groups in our region who will set-up in kitchens around the region.  We are very excited to move this initiative forward!

Clip from one of our classes:
Welcoming Community Cooking Class: NL theme