April 19, 2024

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Traveling Around the World

How a unsuccessful lookup for Indigenous meals supply led me to discover ‘Winnipeg’s’ culinary scene

Jay Lekopoy, the owner of Promenade Brasserie, suggests that the Butternut Squash Hummus dish reminds him of “Spring in the Prairies.” Image courtesy of Promenade Brasserie

The IndigiNews team returned last thirty day period from Treaty One territory in “Winnipeg,” in which we attended the yearly Indigenous Journalists Affiliation convention (formerly recognised as the Indigenous American Journalists Association).

1 thing we ended up all psyched about — in the city with the optimum populace of city Indigenous people today in the nation — was to consider some of the area Indigenous cuisine. 

So soon after a long day major panels and networking, my coworker searched “Indigenous” in the search bar on Uber Eats. 

To our surprise, the only result that came up was Walmart.

We experienced heard of quite a few Indigenous-owned restaurants in this city, so we felt confused as to why this was the only final result showing up. The stereotypical link left a negative flavor in our mouths, offered Walmart’s historical past of cultural appropriation, as nicely as long-standing, weary tropes about Walmart and Indigenous people.

I spoke with other conference attendees — a lot of of whom had been also Indigenous — and the feeling was the exact same.

As weeks went by, I held contemplating about why we were being not able to obtain Indigenous dining places on Uber Eats, so I reached out to Uber Canada to inquire why this happened.

In an e-mail response from Uber Canada to IndigiNews, they told me that Walmart sells a ebook that incorporates the expression “Indigenous” in its title, the Hilroy Indigenous Artist Collaboration Sew E-book.

“This is simply just the only product becoming sold by a service provider in the geographic region with ‘Indigenous’ in its identify,” explained the spokesperson.

“We are generally on the lookout for more retailers and cuisine varieties to sign up for the Uber Eats platform.”

Of course, not all restaurants have the potential or drive to signal on to supply platforms like Uber Eats. But this omission is symptomatic of a broader trouble, which is that a lot of limitations continue to exist in the cafe marketplace for Indigenous companies — from a lack of visibility to worries with sourcing and harvesting ingredients.

Opening the Uber Eats app in “Winnipeg,” you can search “Indian,” “Japanese,” “Italian,” or “Mexican” and get a myriad of cafe suggestions. Scrolling via all of the categories made available, generally, just about every delicacies and nutritional need is reflected, besides for Indigenous cuisine or any mention of Indigenous individuals — wherever.

Meanwhile, the city’s Indigenous food items scene is flourishing — Tourism Winnipeg just lately unveiled a thorough Indigenous food tutorial, in which the author shares that the city’s Indigenous meals offerings have nearly doubled in the very last couple of decades.

So, decided to understand extra, I commenced exploring dining establishments and reaching out to their proprietors to understand the problems they might be experiencing. In the procedure, I also uncovered far more about their extraordinary cuisine — all the things from wildflower risotto to sweetgrass ice product.

What I came absent with is that these dining places are worthy of trying to get out, even if it signifies placing in a little bit of more legwork to locate them.

Feast Cafe and Bistro

Though we ended up in the city this earlier August, a couple of us from the IndigiNews group fulfilled at Feast Cafe and Bistro to have lunch with my two aunties who dwell close by. 

We shared recollections about my mooshum, Murray McKenzie, who was a photojournalist and radio broadcaster in Manitoba. We shared some major laughs, all whilst the scent of freshly baked bannock surrounded us. My auntie gifted us with an abundance of sage. It was a attractive experience, commencing to close. 

Peguis Very first Country member Christa Bruneau-Guenther launched the cafe to “become a pillar of the West Conclusion [of Winnipeg],” according to Feast’s internet site. She claims she would like each customer to experience modern dishes rooted in Initial Nations food items even though celebrating the spirit of her tradition.

The cafe has experienced its share of worries as a small organization — from COVID closures to crack-ins — but stays a local community pillar.

All through our stop by, we dined on Manitoba pickerel sliders, bison brisket and sweetgrass ice cream. Other things on the menu involved bison chilli as effectively as bannock pizza and tacos.

At Feast, I experimented with the pickerel sliders with aromatic wild rice. Photograph by Anna McKenzie. 

Promenade Brasserie

Jay Lekopoy is the operator of Promenade Brasserie, a French-Métis cafe that overlooks the Red River.

He mentioned that visibility in the tech sector is not the only barrier he’s encountered as a Métis restauranteur. When it comes to substances, he says, there have been barriers to serving naturally happening meals and medications due to harvesting and gathering rules in Manitoba.

His restaurant has had to shapeshift to deliver food that is the two authentic and in alignment with provincial legislation.

The Pemmican Tartare is produced with bison, pickled mustard seeds, beff glaće and Saskatoon berries. Lekopoy says he experienced to awkwardly make clear to wellness authorities what Pemmican is. Photograph courtesy of Promenade Brasserie’s Instagram.

“It’s a seriously uncomfortable dialogue to have, and it shouldn’t be,” claimed Lekopoy.

“You can get a foraging license in other provinces but not in Manitoba. It can [only] be used for ceremony,” said Lekopoy.

Even with the pushback from well being and agricultural restrictions, Promenade Brasserie’s menu is on fire with creative imagination, including a sugary frybread with Saskatoon berries, bison limited ribs and pan-fried pickerel. 


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Cassandra Carreiro begun Sharecuterie — an Indigenous girl-owned business that, like Promenade Brasserie, focuses on community ingredients.

Sharecuterie gives catering solutions, has a cafe and wine bar, and incorporates Indigenous-encouraged menu items, together with their mini bannock buns.

“Visibility and inclusion is vital to us,” it states on the Sharecuterie site. 

The restaurant is also a area for local community relationship. Sharecuterie not too long ago hosted a workshop wherever contributors acquired to bead with Shirley Peters, a Muskego Ininew Iskwew (Swampy Cree lady) from Fox Lake Cree Country.

Charcuterie presents mini cups with charcuterie goods, such as healed meats,nearby jams and jellies. Image courtesy of Sharecuterie’s Instagram.

Bistro on Notre Dame (BoND)

Bistro Notre Dame was highlighted on the APTN network’s “Chuck and the Very first People’s Kitchen area.” Image courtesy of BoND’s Instagram web site.

Located in downtown “Winnipeg,” BoND is open late and features the two consolation foodstuff and nutritious alternatives.

“We are a Métis owned restaurant striving for sustainability in all that we do, from successful cooking approaches to supporting community food producers,” stated owner and manager Dean Herkert.

Herkert said he commenced in the resort and restaurant field prior to starting off his individual business enterprise. 

“It started with the source local movement, and the additional I seemed into servicing local, [he thought] but what about sourcing Indigenous?”

Herkert mentioned traditional farming tactics, like intercropping, have been close to for generations. Due to the fact of colonization, he additional, Initially Nations and Métis Men and women have missing a ton of understanding about our respective cuisine, and that is a little something that is remaining reclaimed at this time.

“I’m inspired to use as numerous Indigenous elements as feasible.”

Dishes on the menu consist of a wildflower risotto, a bison soften, walleye mac and cheese and much more.

Far more perform to be accomplished

Soon after speaking with some of the Indigenous restaurant owners in “Winnipeg,” it’s apparent that there wants to be substantial modifications to permit for the sale and distribution of Indigenous foods. Foods has been weaponized for Indigenous men and women considering the fact that get in touch with — from dropping our traditional diet and connection to land to hunting, accumulating and fishing.

I feel of my mooshum, Murray, sitting on the edge of his trapline with his son — my father, when he was nonetheless a little boy. They went to say goodbye to the land, being aware of it was about to be flooded away for the purpose of a hydroelectric dam. I believe of the decline of link to our conventional food items and the sicknesses, like diabetes, that have occur with it.

In this way, simply sitting down at a desk and eating on bison, pickerel and wild rice helps to heal these intergenerational losses, and for me, this is the power of our Indigenous foods.