Grandmother Renee Thomas-Hill

Grandmother Renee_TFPC
Photo Credit: Barry Martin
Grandmother Renee Thomas-Hill, Cayuga/Mohawk, Haudenosaunee of the Grand River Terrority


Local Food Hero 2014

Renee Thomas-Hill is a Grandmother to many, and shares the knowledge of the people.  She carries a message of Peace & Understanding of Life. Her walk has taken her across Turtle Island.  Grandmother Renee recently presented at the UN Indigenous Womens’ Forum, Weaving the Web of Peace, in New York City. It is a priority of the TFPC to recognize indigenous food ways and to recognize the work of First Nations over thousands of years, and Grandmother Renee’s work as part of that history, to preserve food traditions and to help create new food traditions based on those teachings. Grandmother Renee is an artisan, a Holder of Names and the Genealogy of Six Nations, a storyteller through Woodland’s animal puppetry, a First Nations Doll Maker, a Traditional Counsellor and Elder at local high schools, and a Traditional Dancer and Golden Age Smoke Dancer. She has worked with social agencies, educational institutions, museums, hospitals, male and female institutions, youth lodges, nursery and day care facilities, and has participated in many community events.

Unique Food System Problem

Through her work with the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (SOADI), and in many other capacities, Grandmother Renee has recognized that many people, and Aborignal peoples as well, have lost much of their connections to food or have formed unhealthy relationships to food through lack of easy access, the loss of traditional territories or hunting rights, or through a disconnect from teachings around traditional foods.

Unique Food System Solution

Grandmother Renee has dedicated her efforts to reconnecting people to traditional foods and to the stories around traditional foods and their teachings. She emphasizes the importance of “going without” as a way to recognize the importance of food in our lives and refraining from overindulgence. Grandmother Renee has shared her teachings through work as an educator and lecturer. She is looking forward to teaching a course on traditional foods in terms of health, diet, and medicines at McMaster University soon.

Watch some of Grandmother Renee Thomas-Hill’s teachings in a video entitled “This is Your Stomach“.