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Algonquin College News

June is the Month of the Strawberry

June 28, 2021
In honour of the month of the strawberry, we are republishing The Strawberry Story from the Oneida Language & Cultural Centre that we originally shared (with permission) around this time last year.

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The Strawberry Story, the little heart shaped berry…  

In the Haudenosaunee (also known as Iroquois or Six Nations) culture we recognize the strawberry as a gift from the Creator. It is during this time of year, every year we celebrate this gift. The strawberry is the first to bloom and “tells” all the other berries and fruits the great sleep has passed and it’s time to wake up, spring is upon us. As the first berry of the season it holds a special place for us in our hearts and traditions. We celebrate and hold a ceremony in mid-June recognizing this very important fruit. The strawberry is one of several festivals in Haudenosaunee’s cycle of ceremonies to give thanks to the natural world, they are symbolic of life and health with deep roots connected to the Creation Story.  

It is common for communities to harvest strawberries from the same lakeshore or forest that families have visited for a thousand years. We also recognize the heart shape and spiritual importance of this wonderful red fruit that seems to grow right out of Mother Earth. 

Strawberries are used in many ways to flavor just about all foods and drinks come early summer. Of course some are eaten right away, as who can resist? Many are mashed and mixed with corn flour to make strawberry bread, some are mashed and dried in strips (strawberry leather) to be used later in cooking or to eat alone. 

In my home community, everyone knows about, and gets excited for “strawberry water” which is known to promote health and well-being and is often a feature in various ceremonies. Medicinal teas are also made from the leaves and roots, as natural remedies. 

Making your own strawberry water is easy. This is the modern version! 😊 

*1 quart of fresh strawberries 

*1 cup of sugar (to taste) or better still maple syrup, the traditional sweetener 

*1/2 gallon of water  

Wash and hull the berries, mix by hand and smash the berries with the sweetener and mix together. Thoroughly stir into the pitcher of water to blend. Some people will say to use a blender, and it is possible but it changes the taste and this is NOT the same. 

If not consumed right away, cool it off in the fridge. 

From our hearts to yours, and with big thanks to the small heart shaped berry, 

The Office of Truth, Reconciliation & Indigenization