SADDLE LAKE – For the first time in two years, Saddle Lake held its annual Health and Harvest Fair on Sept. 22, in celebration of the end of summer and the start of autumn.
Sam Cardinal, the emcee at the fair who also works at the Saddle Lake Eagle Healing Lodge, said the event is put on in recognition and celebration of the “gardeners of our community.” In addition, the fair also showcases health programs, other events, and services offered in Saddle Lake.
The last time Saddle Lake celebrated the fair was back in 2019.
Over 25 programs were part of the celebration, and according to Cardinal. The event is meant to bring people together before winter sets in.
“First Nations communities should have some sort of day to celebrate our people... it’s tough enough now because our life is so fast paced,” said Cardinal. “I encourage people to sit down, relax, and visit one another because we need that communication ongoing.”
According to Cardinal, in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a lot of gardening taking place in First Nations communities, as well as hunting, and even raising cattle and poultry. He said this allowed many homes to be self-sufficient.
So, the fair is an opportunity to encourage people to go back to a similar lifestyle, especially “with food prices going so high.” Cardinal said that many people in the community have come to follow a similar lifestyle and it’s important “to give them that recognition.”
Nicole Gladue, officer manager with the Saddle Lake Health Care Centre, said organizers were happy to be able to put on the event and gather with the community. In addition to showcasing the health programs and services in Saddle Lake, Gladue said the fair also displays “our community’s talent.”
“We’re doing the contests with the vegetables, the candy, and the pies and the chili,” said Gladue, naming a few of the activities and contests at the fair.
It has been a long time since the fall gathering took place, and “we just want everyone to have fun, and we’re happy to gather everyone together again,” said Gladue.