Updates, Round 2

Oki, tansi my dear readers,

It’s been a while since my last post, wow. Trying to find work sure can take up a lot of your time. Though, within the month I have been fortunate enough to attend a drum making workshop and also help with my parent’s house raising and received some updates from them on their business. I was also selected to attend the 18th annual Treaty 7 Youth Entrepreneur Symposium that took place from August 21-26. Quite exciting stuff! Here is a link to their Facebook page if anyone is interested in keeping them on your radar, so that you can apply next year!

I will have the drum making workshop post and updates on Thunderbird farms coming up soon – I’ve also decided to add short YouTube vlogs for each business that I visit, so look out for those on my channel, which you can find here! I will have one for both the drum making workshop and for Thunderbird farms! I’ll also have a recap on my experience at the T7YES coming your way as well. By attending this symposium, I was able to meet many more like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs my age.

I’ve said in previous posts that I would try to post more frequently, but that has been futile so far. Given that, I hope that you dear readers will follow my site, or subscribe on YouTube to my channel, so that you can keep updated on when I post! The vlogs will act as a heads-up whenever there is a new post, and you can watch a video to get an idea of the contents of each blog post.

I look forward to connecting with you again soon, with the next blog post centering around the drum making workshop I attended at the end of July and Chantal Chagnon’s business, Cree8. Soon after that I will follow with an update on my parent’s business endeavours and my experience at the symposium. Stay tuned! And don’t forget to subscribe and set notifications for the videos, if you so choose! Here are a few photos from the drum making workshop, to keep you satisfied:

Kitakitamaatsin (until we meet again)

The Tastes and Sights of Vancouver

Oki, Tansi, my dear readers:

As you know, I recently had the good fortune to spend a few days in Vancouver and what a trip it was! In addition to enjoying the ocean, the seas, and that fresh salt-air, I was also lucky enough to meet some locals, enjoy some great Canadian Indigenous food at Salmon n’ Bannock, and learn more about the history of the city, particularly about the Eastside. This is a bit of a longer post – but I think you will enjoy it!

The highlight of my trip was getting the opportunity to sit down with one of the owners of Salmon n’ Bannock – a one of a kind restaurant in the city, located on West Broadway, serving traditional Indigenous cuisine in the heart of Vancouver. Salmon n’ Bannock takes traditional Indigenous ingredients from across Canada, and incorporates them into lovely dishes with a modern palate. Before enjoying a HUGE buffalo meat “Indian Taco” (a flat taco like dish on baked bannock with all of the taco fixings) and ending it off with a (shared :P) huckleberry pie and a bannock bread pudding, I tried a eulachon. It was prepared traditionally up in the far North – this small little fish is smoked for 14 hours, and meant to be eaten whole: bones, head and everything! If anyone knows me, you know I’m only really a fan of salmon (I grew up on the prairies, give me a break! :P) but this was so good I would definitely try again! No wonder they call it a delicacy! I think my dad and boyfriend were surprised I actually tried it and enjoyed it! Here’s the meal I had, along with those eulachons, some candied salmon (which was to die for and amazing, I can’t say better things about it!) and the desserts we ordered to share (minus a bite :P). By the way, all of Salmon n’ Bannock’s bannock is baked, not fried, for you health conscious readers wondering:

Sitting down with Inez, 51% owner of Salmon n’ Bannock, she told me a little background about her life and shared with me that she was adopted out of her culture at a young age (unfortunately, such stories can be common in FNMI communities, as this adopting out was once government policy and is still happening today. Here is a good article you can read on that topic, if you are interested). Through opening her business, Inez is not only breaking down cultural barriers between Indigenous and mainstream culture while blazing paths and creating opportunities for other First Nations, Métis and Inuit [FNMI] folks (her staff is all FNMI, and she even had a Blackfoot woman like me working there, from the same tribe!), but Inez has also been revisiting her roots and reconnecting to her culture through this endeavour. This aspect is so important and very respectable especially given that she was taken away from her culture and never fully got the chance to experience it growing up. However, as Inez shows us, it is never too late to reconnect and begin to decolonize through traditional resistance and practicing our cultural ways.

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Not only has she created an opportunity for herself to get more in touch with her roots, she has also created opportunities for other Indigenous folks to reconnect to our food culture, as well as an opportunity for cross-cultural learning for non-Indigenous folks. Not to mention, she is giving our FNMI people within the culinary world an outlet and creating economical bases in many First Nations communities through her collaborative approach to her menu items. As someone who enjoys seeking out the traditional cuisine of visited countries, Inez was shocked that there was not such a place in one of the most bustling Canadian cities that catered towards an Indigenous menu for the original inhabitants of Turtle Island; I am so glad that her and her business partner took it upon themselves to share the diverse cuisine of our FNMI communities with the world –  I’m sure her many business connections that help build the menus are as well!

I really enjoyed the meal, seeing the friendly FNMI staff and people of all backgrounds and ethnicities enjoying our traditional meals, and of course, Inez’s dedication to her customers. I am very thankful for her sitting down with me and speaking to me; even though she is busy trying to manage a restaurant on the days that she is there and cater to other customers (either her or her business partner are there in body to give customers a more personalized experience, sometimes both), she still took the time to sit with me and give me her full attention, which was very refreshing. I gifted her with a small wreath of sweetgrass from my traditional territory to thank her for speaking with me (which is an important aspect when asking for favours in many FNMI communities).

As a woman who has studied business, it’s always great to see women in business, and even more so, due to my heritage, FNMI women in business. The structure of their business, a 51% ownership share for Inez and 49% for her non-Indigenous business partner Remi, is one way that this duo also shows us how we can build bridges between cultures while also promoting FNMI business ownership. I’m excited to see what the future holds for this business – Inez hopes for a second location, bigger space, and more customers, but is also looking forward to all things the Creator has in store. If you are in the area, make sure to book your reservation today! You won’t regret it – I only regret not going sooner when I’ve had the chance! Great prices, great food, and an overall great atmosphere! Here’s some photos of the meal my parent’s ordered – traditional game meat with all the fixings (looked soo good):

In addition to hanging around West Broadway, I also found myself in the East Van area a lot that weekend. I didn’t really expect to end up in East Vancouver, but maybe things happen for a reason. This area has gotten a bad rap in the public space for many reasons, some related to those reasons that are stealing some of our brothers and sisters from us. However, aside from the less than perfect reputation this side of town has, it has also been the site of many grassroots activism and you can really see the spirit of the neighbourhood in how people look out for each other there.

In the Eastside, I got the opportunity to attend a gathering happening at Shop Wrong with a bunch of up and coming FNMI youth artists blazing paths in their respective fields (drama, film, music) and even got to purchase a cool piece of art there as well that prompted me to learn more about the area. While they are not Aboriginal owned, they do participate in the East Van community very heavily, and also support young budding FNMI artists by hosting free workshops and putting their art on display in their shop for free, in addition to the many other services they provide to the community through their other endeavours. I didn’t even know such a place existed! Here is a blog post that speaks more to that and you can also visit their Facebook page here. After that night, a relative also brought us to visit the memorial for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous (and non-Indigenous!) Women and Men down by the docks (which is an issue I actively speak out against, due to the closeness that it hits home for me from having friends/family who have lost their loved ones due to senseless, colonial, and gendered violence or been subject to such violence themselves). We gave a moment of silence for those that we have lost, and I am thankful to my boyfriend’s cousin for bringing us to see it, as I was unaware there was such a marker. Although this side of town has gotten a bad rap, the stories and the history within that side of the city, in my opinion, show our true humanity – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and most importantly, the resiliency of the human spirit:

Now I am back in Calgary, and graduation has come and gone. I’m working on getting my own business established and keeping up the blog with more frequent posts; I’ve been seeking out Aboriginal businesses here in the city this past month along my travels and actually, once you start seeking things out, isn’t it funny how many opportunities come about? It’s been a good month, and I met a lot of artists in the Calgary community, as I finally put myself out there and submitted a piece in an art show. I’m really excited to show you dear readers just how diverse the Aboriginal business world really is! Look out for my next post on FNMI art in Calgary; I’ll be showcasing a few artists that have been in the art business for various years, working with mediums such as acrylics, oils, and more traditional materials/handmade crafts like hides and other useful tools made from animal parts, as per tradition.

Also – please excuse my interchanging with Aboriginal, Indigenous, and FNMI – sometimes I don’t like to use the term Aboriginal as it a colonial, government term so I sometimes use Indigenous in it’s place, or FNMI to be a little clearer of which Indigenous groups I am talking about, as the Indigenous world is very diverse and every country has Indigenous peoples! I still use the term Aboriginal in my posts, as usually people will search Aboriginal business instead of FNMI business or Indigenous business, when searching for FNMI businesses. Thank you for understanding, and sorry if it annoyed anyone. There is a method to my craziness! I’ll leave you now with a picture of my first painting I’ve ever entered into an art show (that wasn’t at my high school lol) – it address business success and structures that have been built upon colonialism; how fitting for my blog though and our next post about art :P! (Ps – it’s for sale, inquire if interested!):


Kitakitamaatsin (until we meet again),



Thunderbird Farms and Growing Pain

Oki, Tansi,

I know, I know! It’s been another 20 days, but I am finally a little more focused and ready to get on with the new chapter of my life now that graduation ceremonies are all done (I attended 3 in total for myself! what an experience!).

In this post, I really wanted to focus on my parent’s current endeavor called Thunderbird Farms, which is a self-sustaining farm in the heart of Southern Alberta on the Blood Tribe. I visited in April to see what they had been up to, since they have just recently gotten back on their land after being forced to relocate due to a grass fire in 2012. They had quite the set-up going on however! They had their greenhouse up and functioning, with lots of sprouts happening (my mom is even growing bath loofas! Unbelievable right?); they also had their raised garden beds and compost built and the starting of a potato field. It was quite the site! Here are some pictures from that visit:

Since then, they have been even busier, with a new partnership with the Aboriginal Aquaculture Association (even receiving a grant for more investments in their business!) and many more improvements to their greenhouse and garden areas. They were even able to put up their solar panels and battery supply during the month of May as well! They’ve had great help from members of the Lethbridge and Blood Reserve communities, receiving plant splices, help with insulating the greenhouse and even planting the rows of potatoes my mother wanted! I’m so excited to see the harvest later this summer and also the progress that they will start to make on their home! Thanks to my brother and mother posting pictures online, I never miss a beat! Here are some of their most recent progress pictures – all of this occurred within a month and a half of my last visit! It’s great! They still need a lot of help though and volunteers to re-build their home and future business site, you can get in touch with them here. It can be difficult doing all of this work with only a team of 3! If my words alone don’t convince you, here’s the progress pics (imagine being a part of this!):

Even though my parent’s have a lot going on with their business, they still found time to make it to my graduation ceremonies in Vancouver and twice in Calgary; I’m so grateful to have such hardworking parents who still make time to share in my accomplishments as well, even if it means putting work on hold for a few days (but I think they needed the break!). We had a great time in Vancouver, and my dad was even able to meet with his new partners face to face (such an entrepreneur! Always working!).

I hope you enjoyed this post on the progress that my parents are making with their aquaculture endeavors. Their entrepreneurial story is so rich and has spanned many years, and working with my father, I hope to bring you even more stories on their progress and how they came to the idea of bringing aquaculture to the bald prairies. Also, look out for my next post on the sights (and tastes) I experienced in Vancouver! One of the biggest highlights was sitting down with the owner of Salmon N’ Bannock and learning more about their business journey! I also ended up at a sweet spot I want to share more information on, a place you should definitely check out if you are in the East Vancouver area! Here’s a pretty photo I got of Mt. Baker to tide you all over! 😉






Hello my fellow Niitsitapiiks!

Apologies, it’s been 20 days since I’ve first posted! I’ve been busy trying to get my own business started (if you are into self-care, check out my Facebook page) and figuring out a few things for graduation (I’ll be in Vancouver this weekend for the Ch’nook Scholars grad – check out the page here for more information on this innovative program for Aboriginal business students)!

However, I’ve made a few new connections this past weekend with some pretty popular names within the social justice sphere and media industry here in Calgary, so I’m looking forward to bringing you interviews with them as a showcase on how diverse the Aboriginal business world is! Also, I will be spending 5 days in Vancouver and visiting the Aboriginal businesses down in Granville Island/Gastown and probably going to eat a meal at Salmon n’ Bannock down on Broadway (and try to interview owners :P)!

I’m also sending questions my father’s way so he can answer some questions on their off-grid aquaponics and farming business they are starting up, so I hope to have that post up by the end of the week, and my Vancouver adventures up the week after! Then I will be getting in touch with the contacts I’ve made so far and start on my visits! So bear with me! I hope to bring you many more posts with connections I’ve made within the Aboriginal business world as I know of so many great businesses that are Aboriginal owned and run!

I leave you now with a picture of my father’s greenhouse design he built himself from the ground up to get you excited for the post on his business! Some pretty amazing innovations going on down on the Blood Tribe inspired by the self-sustainability movement! Thanks for reading!

Kitakitamaatsin (until we meet again – Blackfoot, but excuse the spelling)!





Oki, tansi, warm welcomes

Oki, Tansi – or hello for those of you that do not speak Cree or Blackfoot. Guessing from my introduction, you might have guessed that I am of Indigenous descent from here in Canada. I am a Cree, Blackfoot woman who has been studying business and my path has taken me on a journey where Aboriginal business here in Canada has been something I’ve been considering a lot lately.

Being a part of the Ch’nook Scholars program, I have been lucky enough to have more of a glimpse into Aboriginal business than most, especially business conducted on the coast. However, even though I have been going to school to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce, I still feel there are many things I do not know about conducting business as an Aboriginal in Treaty territory  as well as conducting business outside of Treaty territory.

Now that I am finished with school, I have decided to take on this task of learning more about Aboriginal businesses in the Calgary and Southern Alberta, by visiting these businesses and conducting showcases. I also believe that this will be beneficial to those business owners, as it will give those looking to support Aboriginal businesses in the area a central place to locate information!

Thank you for reading my first post – my second post will feature Thunderbird Farms, which is an organization close to my heart. My parent’s own this self-sustaining aquaponics farm in Southern Alberta, and their journey is very inspiring, as they have overcome many hardships to accomplish their dreams of owning their own Aboriginal owned business. I hope you will enjoy the posts!