By Colleen Seto
As the sap starts flowing across Ontario, this Indigenous-owned maple syrup company is ready for another exciting year.
For Deborah Aaron and Isaac Day, having a maple syrup business is all about carrying on traditions. Day recalls making syrup as a young boy with his grandfather, and Aaron’s parents took part in collecting sap for syrup as children. Drawing on these cultural experiences, and in an effort to continue family traditions, Giizhigat (gee-jaa-gut) Maple Products was born. Giizhigat in Ojibwe translates to “day,” just like Day’s family name prior to English translation.
MAPLE SYRUP AS TRADITIONAL MEDICINE
Maple syrup or sweet water has been an important part of many Indigenous cultures, including Aaron’s and Day’s Anishinaabe and Kanyen’keha’:ka (Mohawk) heritages, respectively. “Everyone associates maple syrup as a Canadian food, but it’s actually a First Nation food,” says Aaron, a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve. Sweet water is used in ceremonies and for cooking, and is respected as a cleansing medicine. It is said to bring love and sweetness into people’s lives and spirits…