5 Places to Explore Canada’s Indigenous Food Culture E! News Canada


Growing up in Toronto, my knowledge of Aboriginal communities was limited to a few days of history lessons. In textbooks, descriptions of the past were suspect, haloed by the now familiar rhetoric of the “white saviour”.

Indigenous peoples in Canada have been trying to reclaim their culture from church and government for nearly two centuries. The atrocities they have faced range from the usurpation of land by Europeans to the forced removal of children from their homes in abusive boarding schools.

In recent years, the focus has been on reconciliation: land recognition, improved education within Indigenous communities, and increased Indigenous-led tourism, much of which is food-focused.

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Paul Natrall of the Squamish Nation is one of the leaders of the Indigenous movement for culinary tourism. He is a chef, restaurant owner, television presenter and member of the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. He is also the British Columbia representative for the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations, a chef-led organization that focuses on using food to influence Canada’s relationship with Indigenous culture.

At this year’s Cooks Camp, an annual celebration of Canadian cuisine by cooks, for cooks, Natrall hosted a special event that blended traditional Indigenous foods with European techniques. According to him, food is the perfect catalyst for people to connect and heal.

“Growing up, the kitchen was a place of bonding,” Natrall said with a smile. “Food was medicine and time [together as a family] was the food.

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He reflects fondly on the traditional cooking methods he learned from his grandmother: how he wind-dried salmon, roasted beets in the earth, and grilled mussels straight from the sea. of pride, love and belonging as they cooked side by side. Unfortunately, these hunting, gathering and cooking practices were largely discouraged by a government that aimed to eradicate Indigenous culture nationwide.

“It’s important to keep our food culture alive,” he says. “In any city, you can find many styles of food: Chinese, Thai, Italian… but you never get native food. These traditional [cooking] the methods have been around for thousands of years, and we need to enhance them – revive them – show the world our culture. We’re finally starting to see more of that.

Through educational meals and outdoor activities that involve traditional methods of gathering, preparing and cooking food, Canada’s Indigenous community offers tourists a way to better understand and connect with their culture.

Pick and Grill with the Three Fires Confederacy in Ontario

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Wiikwemkoong Unceded Territory is a First Nations reserve located on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, east of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Comprised of the Three Fires Confederacy (Ojibwa, Odawa and Pottawatomi Nations), Wikwemikong Tourism hosts and organizes outings such as fishing, maple syrup harvesting, portaging, powwow and theater trips.

They also offer culinary excursions such as hiking along the scenic Bebamikawe Memorial Trail while searching for edibles and natural ingredients along the forest floor. With a First Nations guide, guests learn to identify and harvest ingredients like mushrooms and berries and pair them with wild game, fish, birds, and hot and cold teas made from herbs and plants. At the end of the day, guests will prepare their discoveries over an open fire.

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Visit Nk’Mip Wine Estate in British Columbia

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Nk’Mip Cellars stands out as the first native winery in North America, owned and operated by the Osoyoos Indian Band. It is located in the Okanagan Valley, one of Canada’s prized wine regions. This scenic vineyard is nestled between rolling hills and a sparkling lake and proudly practices sustainable agriculture. Nk’Mip Cellars has also won numerous accolades for its high-quality reds, buttery whites and crisp rosés.

Visitors to the winery can sample flights in the main tasting bar or indulge in a semi-private tasting with chef-inspired pairings. For a more in-depth experience, guests can book the Four Chiefs Dining Experience, which explores four key elements of Indigenous cuisine (bear, salmon, bitter root and serviceberry) with Nk’Mip wine pairings.

Recently, Nk’Mip Cellars launched a tasting experience at the District Wine Village in Oliver, BC — Canada’s first wine village — which features 16 distinct Okanagan artisans and artisan producers.

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Book a high-end meal at Naagan in Ontario

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Founded by Ojibway chef Zach Keeshig, Naagan is an exclusive restaurant that only opens on weekends and sells out weeks in advance. Keeshig, who has cooked at top Canadian restaurants such as Langdon Hall and Eigensinn Farm, creatively fuses modern cuisine with traditional Ojibwa dishes. By limiting seating to just 13 people, Keeshig can guide diners through the ingredients, cooking methods and cultural significance of each unique dish he prepares.

Based in Owen Sound, the most southern part of Ontario, Naagan offers a nine-course tasting menu that incorporates foraged ingredients such as corn or peaches in the summer, and carrots or beets in the fall.

Keeshig also organizes foraging tours, cooking demonstrations and private dinners.

Attend an Algonquin Festival near Ottawa

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Mādahòkì Farm was built on Algonquin Nation lands near Canada’s capital. Officially launched in 2021, the space hosts a year-round series of events celebrating Algonquin language and culture by season: Sīgwan (spring), Tagwàgi (fall), Pibòn (winter) and the annual Solstice Indigenous Festival in ‘summer.

Each event features traditional Algonquin foods, music, powwows and creative workshops where families can make dreamcatchers, drum, participate in storytelling or participate in a powwow.

This exciting event space and working farm is also home to five endangered Ojibwe Spirit horses and hosts a year-round Aboriginal market that promotes products such as art, jewelry, coffee or soaps, made by local indigenous artisans.

Fish and enjoy the trails around Red Bank Lodge in New Brunswick

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Belonging to the Red Bank Nation, the Red Bank Lodge is perched on a hill overlooking the Miramichi River. The large cedar cabin nestled in a thick evergreen forest was built by the local Aboriginal community. Wildlife grazes quietly along the quiet walking paths that wind through the trees and along the river.

River Bank Lodge is renowned for its Atlantic salmon fishing, attracting anglers from all over the world. His culinary fishing experience — priced around $1,400 — includes accommodations, Indigenous-led fishing trips, and Mi’kmaq meals of smoked fish and shellfish, or boiled meats like venison or beef. caribou. Fishing season runs from mid-April through October, and these experiences book up months in advance.

For more information on Canada’s Indigenous tourism offerings, visit:

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5 Places to Explore Canada’s Indigenous Food Culture E! News Canada

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