Celebrity chef and Nova Scotia First Nation team up to create meal kits with venison

By The Canadian Press

A First Nation in Nova Scotia has collaborated with a celebrity chef to create meal kits for band members that feature meat from nuisance deer shot by crossbow hunters.

Gerald Gloade, consultation manager with the Millbrook First Nation, near Truro, N.S., says the kits include three recipes and a spice rub created by Ray Bear, a celebrated Cree chef who is well known on the East Coast.

The 60 kits are composed of vegetables, flour, potatoes, butter, herbs and enough vacuum-sealed venison to make a stew with dumplings, a meat pie, and a deer meat roast — and each meal can feed four to six people.

“We recognize that food security really impacts everybody,” Gloade said in an interview from the Millbrook Community Hall, about 90 kilometres north of Halifax. “We wanted something that could benefit everybody.”

On Friday, the kits were packed for distribution in green bags that feature a logo — designed by Gloade — that says “Kwe Fresh.” Kwe is the Mi’kmaq word for hello.

Fed up with nuisance white-tailed deer raiding gardens and colliding with vehicles, the Town of Truro hired four crossbow hunters last year to kill deer spotted inside town limits, where the use of firearms is banned.

In co-operation with the town, the Millbrook band implemented its own cull last year, which resulted in the killing of 12 deer around the First Nation territory. The frozen carcasses were given away for food.

After the first giveaway, Gloade says the band received calls from residents asking how to cook the meat and how to dial down its gamey taste. He says his wife came up with the meal kit idea, which was quickly embraced by the band council.

“Everybody totally loved the idea,” he said, adding that First Nations hunters culled 24 nuisance deer this year.

In Truro, hunters brought in 34 deer, the meat of which was delivered to Feed Nova Scotia, the non-profit organization that distributes food to 140 food banks, shelters, soup kitchens and meal programs across the province.

Last year, town officials said they had spent years studying what to do about the large population of deer that keeps roaming through the town of 12,000. They produced public education campaigns to stop residents from handing out backyard goodies to the animals, but the deer kept coming.

The town has since set up designated hunting locations — each baited with apples — that are at least 800 metres from any schools or built-up areas. Each area has been set up so that any crossbow projectiles, known as bolts, will end up in the ground or nearby hay bales if they miss their target.

The two areas used by the First Nations hunters is also too close to a built-up area to use firearms.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2023.

By Michael MacDonald in Halifax.

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