The cabane à sucre must go on
Mi’kmaq, Abenaki, Haudenosaunee, and other Indigenous peoples have enjoyed the sweet sap of the sugar maple tree for millennia.
Over three centuries ago, French settlers learned from Indigenous people how to tap trees and boil their maple water down to a syrup used to cure meat.
Maple syrup and celebrating le temps des sucres with a party has become an important Francophone cultural touchstone in Canada. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled most of the cabane à sucre gatherings this year.
But some groups have found ways to come together (virtually) to enjoy the delicious food, traditional music, and maple-flavoured treats of a traditional sugar shack.
The Association des francophones des Kootenays Ouest (AFKO) are planning their cabane à sucre @chez vous on Sunday, April 19th. This virtual sugar shack will include a traditional meal, folk songs, music performances, outdoor games, and social media challenges.
AFKO invites all who want to attend to cook and eat a traditional meal at their own house at 11 am Pacific Time, sharing the experience on an open zoom platform with other families (if they want to) and posting pictures of their meals on social media.
AFKO suggests a traditional menu of pea soup, baked beans, ham or bacon, tourtière, omelettes, pancakes, and salad. You will also want to have maple syrup on snow (or crushed ice if you have no snow). Learn more about traditional sugar shack food and how to enjoy maple syrup on snow in this video.
From 2 pm on, AFKO will host a sing-along, a musical performance, outdoor games, and more socializing, all over zoom. There are two social media photo challenges. Challenge one encourages people to wear their best plaid shirt, and challenge two is to recreate an old-fashioned sugar shack at home. People can share these on social media using the hashtags #sugarshackwestkootenay or #cabaneasucrekootenayouest.
I plan to get my plaid shirt out, learn new cooking skills, and join the fun next Sunday.
Catherine Fisher, blogger