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Have you ever met someone for a meal and afterwards walked away feeling closer and more connected to that other person? Has a friend ever introduced you to a new food? These moments can take on particular significance when they happen in intercultural relationships.

In the early 1600s, the Haudenosaunee, an Indigenous group in North America, invited Dutch settlers in their area to live together under the Two-Row Wampum Treaty. Every winter as the groups lived side by side, the Haudenosaunee saw the Dutch settlers celebrating a holiday called Nieuwjaar (New Year). Traditionally, the first person awake on the morning of New Year’s Day would serve ale and deep-fried dough balls called oliebollen to members of the household.

The Dutch children would then run from house to house in hopes of being the first person at each doorstep in the new year. The first visitor at a house was rewarded with oliebollen, coins, and fruit.

After a while, Haudenosaunee people began to adopt the celebration of their Dutch neighbors. Haudenosaunee children would also run door to door in their community on Jan. 1, yelling “New Yah! New Yah!” and being rewarded with homemade donuts and other treats.

Adrian Jacobs, the Christian Reformed Church’s senior leader for Indigenous Justice and Reconciliation, said the Haudenosaunee still celebrate Nó:ia in his home community of Six Nations despite its coming from another culture centuries ago.

Sometimes deep-fried dough can offer us hope for how to live in peace together.

“My vision of reconciliation,” Jacobs said, “is sitting down to eat together, laughing, and maybe even crying together, enjoying one another’s music, and perhaps getting up to dance! This is a vision of friendship that motivates me.”

As Canadians look toward National Indigenous Peoples Day on June 21, we can celebrate the resiliency of Indigenous people in Canada and learn more about their traditions. Find resources for Indigenous Ministry Sunday and other materials at

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