Indigenous Female Restaurateurs in Canada are bringing employment & prosperity to their communities!
Updated: Jul 9, 2020
These past few months stuck at home, and I guess being the natural foodie, I have been scanning social media incessantly to keep me motivated and inspired. What I find often in the food industry is the repetition of Indigenous voices speaking for Indigenous cuisine. I am thankful for the opportunity that comes for us to share our voices & cuisine, but rarely is the exposure going to the Indigenous restaurateurs and even less often are the opportunities going to Indigenous women restaurateurs. Today I wanted to take the time to create space on my own blog to pay homage to just a few of the many, MANY Indigenous women entrepreneurs in Canada. Indigenous cuisine isn't just fighting for its place at the table; it's driving employment and prosperity for families and often I find its women that are behind the businesses in our communities.
These ladies are bringing food service & employment to their communities, teaching a little about where they come from to the discerning visitor's palate, and are representative of what Indigenous restaurateurs are in Canada.
So the next time you take a vacation, work trip, or a venture off your regular beaten path, be sure to check out these restaurants!
Anna Cote - The Birch Bite
The Birch Bite founder Anna Cote is a graduate of the Algonquin college culinary program. After cooking healthy meals for local school staff she saw the need for healthy, delicious options in her home community of Maniwaki, Quebec. This amazing Algonquin lady took her idea for a healthy restaurant to the 2017 Powwow Pitch and won a cash prize that made it possible for her to eventually rent a building from her band and launch the Birch Bite! The Birch Bite is known for its their fun partnerships for catering in the Ottawa-region, as well as the launch of “The Good Way – Sumac IPA” through Dominion City, a beer that features ingredients including cattail root and sumac foraged across her Territory. Check out the Powwow Pitch’s video of her journey since her 2017 win!
Inez Cook- Salmon ‘n’ Bannock
Member of the Nuxalk Nation, Inez is owner of Vancouver, British Columbia’s only Indigenous-owned & Indigenous-food showcasing restaurant. Members of her staff currently represent the Cowessess, Frog Lake, Haida, Lac l'Orange, Nuxalk, Ojibway, Quw'utsun, Squamish and Tsimshian Nations.
As a child Inez found herself part of the Sixtie’s Scoop experience; a period (that lasted much longer than the 60’s) that saw the unmitigated removal of thousands of Indigenous children from their homes and communities and adopted out into non-Indigenous families across Canada and around the world. Many of them were denied access or even awareness of their Indigenous cultural identity & heritage. Inez is the author of “The Sixties Scoop” a children’s book that explains the era to children. Under Inez’s leadership, Salmon ‘n’ Bannock has become award-winning, serves ingredients & wines from Indigenous-owned vendors, and deserves a visit from you the next time you head out to Canada’s west coast!
Sharon Bond-Hogg - Kekuli Café
The Okanagan isn’t a region I have had the fortune of visiting yet; but when I heard about Nooaitch First Nation member Sharon Bond-Hogg's drive and ambition to turn the West Bank, British Columbia-based Kekuli Café into a franchise company I knew I needed her on the list!
When Sharon began to visualize her restaurant, she knew it was going to be a place with a warm welcoming atmosphere. It was also going to be the place to go for the world to learn about bannock; a bread-style that found its way into the cuisine and journey of many Indigenous peoples throughout Canada’s colonial history. I am excited to see that Kekuli could be the first Indigenous women-owned company venturing into FRANCHISING, and I absolutely adore that they have a mobile ordering app and a loyalty program for their repeat-customers to reap some awesome benefits and deals! Stock up your points and get yourself some free tea or coffee, lattes, smoothies, even sandwiches & tacos!
Anna Lazare - Messy Kitchen
Now I am definitely a repeat customer of The Messy Kitchen! This café, owned by Anna Lazare is always on my to-do list when I head to our sister Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke.
By Anna’s early 20’s, she had already amassed a solid clientele for the amazing cakes and baked goods she created in her apartment. Fast forward to today and she is the proud co-owner of a family-style restaurant where you can get a healthy portion of local Haudenosaunee-style cornbread, and is catering to the Montréal-area. The Messy Kitchen doesn’t have a website, but they are live on Instagram and Facebook if you’d like to check them out. I add my own 5-stars to the 5-star review Messy Kitchen already boasts on its facebook page.
Along with a photo from their Instagram of their strawberry juice, here’s couple photos I took with my boys on our last visit. I had the “I Love You A WaffleLot” waffle (haha the names of the waffles!) and my fiancé Cody had him a down-home bacon & eggs experience. Messy Kitchen features a wide range of healthy options, local Haudenosaunee cuisine favourites, as well as some hashtag-worthy cakes that you better head over to Instagram to check out!
I hope I've inspired you to check out not just some of these ladies restuarants, but also to find out more about what local Indigenous-owned cuisine you might find in your home town or region! May your hunger be satisfied in the pursuit!