More and more, it seems that the expertise of Québec’s collective kitchens is recognized worldwide. Did you know that our collective kitchens have shared their experience with people in France, Haiti, Gabon and Peru? The Regroupement des cuisines collectives du Québec (RCCQ) has in fact developed ties of solidarity and is imparting its expertise to organizations in Peru, Mali and Gabon, where there is also a keen interest how collective kitchens operate in Quebec.
The Start of an Enriching Collective Kitchen Experience with Mali
Recently, Mali expressed its interest in knowing more about our collective kitchens and exploring the possibility of developing collective kitchens in that country! In fact, Selly Ouané, director of the Mali-based organization Woiyo Kondeye, was fascinated by the collective kitchen concept when she visited Quebec in 2006 and attended the RCCQ’s annual provincial conference.
Upon her return to Mali, she convinced her colleagues that community kitchens could help improve their health, their general knowledge and their economic situation. But where to start?
Through the Uniterra program, Woiyo Kondeye and the RCCQ have become partners for the purpose of sharing knowledge and providing mutual support.
For the RCCQ, this partnership is much more than an opportunity to just share our expertise. It is also a way to promote international solidarity in the collective kitchen movement and to work together globally for greater social justice and food self-sufficiency.
In January 2007, the RCCQ went on a two-week mission to Mali to better understand our partners’ needs and their realities. We were delighted to see how well-organized and structured our Malian partners were (gardens, cooking workshops and food preservation). Woiyo Kondeye was not the only organization interested in collective kitchens. Several other organizations were also intrigued by the benefits of our approach and decided to get involved. Together, they established the Mali Collective Kitchens Committee.
Back in 1988, a “Dream” Committee made up of women from the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve collective kitchen was planning a trip to Peru. They had heard about collective kitchens in Peru and had even been invited by a Peruvian woman who was a collective kitchen coordinator in that country. The “Dream” Committee presented a proposal to the organization Development and Peace, the proposal was accepted, and in November 1990 eleven women flew to Peru.
During their trip, they were able to observe and experience first hand how collective kitchens operated in Peru. They were very impressed by the level of organization and solidarity. They also noted the force for social change and the political weight that collective kitchens represent in Peru.
Upon their return, they wanted more that ever to create a province-wide organization and develop a grassroots solidarity movement with other collective kitchens in Quebec. The first provincial meeting of collective kitchens was then held and the Regroupement des cuisines collectives du Québec was founded.
In 1995, a Quebec-Peru exchange was organized in the context of our action-research initiatives. The aim was to share the results our respective research on collective kitchens in Peru and Quebec. Quebec representatives participated in several activities and lent their support to the demands of the Peruvian kitchens. Through this initiative, the participants gained a deeper understanding of the collective kitchen development models in the South and the North.
In October 2001, under the theme Dix ans…soulevons notre chapeau! (Ten years…hats off to you!), the RCCQ celebrated its 10th anniversary as a provincial organization. More than 300 attendees came out to celebrate this milestone and share their experiences. Even representatives of the Federación de comedores populares based in Lima, Peru were there to celebrate with us and share with us about their kitchens.