Gratitude and Legacies: Concluding Locals Only 2017-19

May 28, 2019

From 2017 to 2019, Locals Only created a series of moments, connections, and projects that focused on food security, intergenerational exchange, and youth leadership in core neighbourhoods in Saskatoon.

Built around a key partnership between AKA Artist-run and CHEP Good Food Inc., Locals Only focused on engagement and dialogue alongside the cultivation of new points of access to fresh food across core neighbourhoods.

Throughout Locals Only, we thought youth would play a large role in the project, and they did, but in ways we couldn’t have anticipated. We figured artists would be able to draw together disparate propositions, and they did, but through forms and temporalities we didn’t expect. We dreamed that partner organizations would guide the larger potentials of the project, and they did, but with even longer and larger horizons than we could have imagined. We hoped Elders and knowledge keepers would lead conversations and teachings about things that have been here for longer than we can know, and they did, but with depths of storytelling and care that went beyond what we had any right to expect.

To support this, Locals Only commissioned a number of exciting projects from local and national artists that created community gatherings and engagement around local food, changing neighbourhoods, and creative forms of hospitality. Some of these projects, including the mobile carts called Somewhere Between a Chicken and a T-Rex made by local artist Jordan Schwab, served as a platform for community authorship and consultation, while Kevin Wesaquate’s misaskwatomina project formed new points of gathering by planting over 250 saskatoon berry bushes in Victoria Park.

Locals Only also commissioned a group of youth artists to be at the centre of outreach and engagement efforts, where they led community-based projects and activities. This youth authored work was a central focus of Locals Only, as we aimed to build new and resilient capacities in youth to take the lead on multigenerational considerations of food security in core neighbourhoods. Throughout the summer of 2018, the youth artists worked with Elders and knowledge-keepers and hosted weekly engagement activities in conjunction with the mobile art and food carts heading out into public spaces in Saskatoon’s core neighbourhoods.

As we wind down the project, a new publication will take up the role of project archive, recipe collection, and proposition for continued dialogue and action. Gathered from project participants and extended community members, the wide range of contributions form a complex portrait of community engagement around food security, youth empowerment, and reciprocity. The publication will launch with many of our community partners and participants in attendance and free copies will be provided for local residents. It is our hope that the recipes, photographs, reflections, and projects contained in this book will act as both a record and a seed, documenting moments that will grow beyond Locals Only.

We are so grateful to have been able to create this project with so many incredible community members and partners. And now, as Locals Only winds down, we will continue to seek kinship, to make space for unexpected voices, and to understand the realities that are shaping our futures. This is the work we will bring forward from Locals Only and this is the legacy we have already begun to see from the many incredible community members and project participants.