Teresa Ward: Creating cultural awareness and investing in legacy with gourmet bannock bags and catering
Grandma Treesaw (otherwise known as Teresa Ward) has long been making Teslin Tlingit-style bannock for her friends and family in the Yukon. In the early days, everyone who tried Grandma Treesaw’s bannock recipe—which makes bannock that is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside—was instantly hooked and asked her to teach them to make their own at home, so Teresa started hosting workshops to share her knowledge and culture with other Yukoners.
As more and more people developed a taste for Grandma Treesaw’s bannock, the demand for the recipe grew. In 2014, Teresa started selling bags of premixed ingredients to allow even more people to make their own delicious bannock at home. Now with the ready-mixed bags, anyone can have a true taste of the Yukon, regardless of their address!
For Teresa, a citizen of Kwanlin Dün First Nation, sharing her love of and recipe for bannock is a way to honour and celebrate her First Nations culture, family, and traditions. In addition to being a master bannock baker and successful entrepreneur, Teresa is a community liaison at the Yukon University campus in Teslin and a proud grandmother of eight with another one arriving end of October 2021.
Allison Kormendy: This holistic nutritionist is upholding the tradition of strong health and community wellbeing with Wild Roots.
Allison Kormendy is Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in from her father’s side and Yupik from her mother’s. Born and raised in Dawson City, Yukon, Allison loves to explore, seek out adventures, and volunteer for community events. Her community focus, work ethic, and leadership have been recognized with awards from the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government and the Assembly of First Nations, Yukon Region.
Currently employed as the director of wellness for the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Government, Allison is also a registered holistic nutritionist and the owner and operator of Wild Roots, a small business promoting holistic nutrition and well-being on a cellular level. Raised immersed in tradition, Wild Roots connects Allison’s traditional teachings with contemporary science and holistic health.
With high rates of chronic disease in the Yukon, Allison knows that food can be the most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. Traditional foods are especially important for strength and vitality. Allison also understands that healing journeys are life long and unique to each being. For this reason, Wild Roots provides a diverse range of products that prioritize local ingredients to support individual health and wellness journeys. These include but are not limited to locally harvested teas, “boosts,” therapeutic elixirs, fermented foods, bone broth and the best-selling Klondike Kombucha.
Wild Roots products are just one way that Allison is helping to create stronger and healthier generations. She also shares her knowledge with everyone she meets, through workshops and through her online platforms.
Born and raised in Iqaluit, Nunavut, Chef Nuka Fennell is a culinary artist who believes in coming together with their community to feast, celebrate, and make positive change in the world. Growing up in a large mixed family, Nuka’s happiest memories centre food: eating fried caribou with their siblings and cousins; watching as their mother lovingly cut pieces of mataq; and celebrating holidays with their whole family. It is no surprise that cooking and feeding people became their love language, leading to a passion for the culinary arts.
Nuka is equally passionate about decolonization, human rights, and environmentalism, values that are woven into their culinary practices. Whether cooking for catering clients or celebrants at International Women’s Day or Queer Soup Nights, Chef Fennell prepares robustly flavoured and artistically crafted dishes that centre natural and sustainable ingredients, nourish body and spirit, and cultivate comfort and satisfaction.
Chef Fennell has worked in the culinary industry for ten years. In addition to completing formal culinary arts training at Algonquin College, they have studied under many chefs. Today, Nuka owns a small catering company called Fireweed, a plant that symbolizes resiliency and resurgence. They dream about opening a brick-and-mortar shop in Iqaluit that will be a welcoming and safe space for their community. A space that celebrates beautiful food, art, and community building, and gives back as much if not more than it takes.
Chef Fennell is a non-binary trans person. They are also proud to be one of Canada's most northern amateur drag performers.
Kaitlyn White-Keyes: this culinary artist has a sweet spot for gourmet treats and giving back to community
Originally from the southern reaches of Treaty 8 territory, Kaitlyn White-Keyes (she/her) is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, and Indigenous tradeswoman who has spent most of her life on Chief Drygeese territory. Kaitlyn was introduced to business at a young age by her first-generation Canadian grandmother and through Alberta’s Farmers’ Markets. She has never been shy about connecting with customers or hard work.
A graduate of NAIT’s Culinary Arts program, Kaitlyn is currently channelling her entrepreneurial and culinary energies into Yellowknife’s newest option for confectionery delights, Ever Sweet Company. Ever Sweet Company serves up small-batch artisanal caramels, traditional candies, and locally crafted treats. But more than this, the recently launched social enterprise, like its founder, prioritizes community and sustainability.
The profits from Ever Sweet Company, generated through product sales and community events, go towards developing a safe, local, and land-based healing space for people living with addiction, filling an important gap for residents of the North. Inspired by her connection to community, Kaitlyn believes these resources are essential to the decolonization of our nation and paramount to the survival of Indigenous culture.
Scott and Jackie: these northerners are serving farm to freezer goods and catering with home grown meat delicacies for Yukon communities
Married for 24 years, Scott and Jackie Dickson are partners in life and in business. In 2006 the couple embarked on a journey to develop a working ranch in the Takhini River Valley on Ta’an Kwäch’än territory; Scott is a citizen of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council. This journey entailed clearing the land, developing feed for livestock, and breeding and building a flock of meat sheep and a herd of black Angus cattle.
Scott and Jackie wanted to control all aspects of beef and lamb production, so Scott trained as a butcher, graduating with distinction in 2018 from the meat processing program at Olds College. The same year Scott and Jackie were named Yukon’s Farmers of the Year. The couple was nominated by fellow producers for the “love, care and attention [they] show the livestock in their operation.”
Today, Takhini River Ranch provides their customers with a farm to table experience where they grow the feed, raise the animals and process the meat on site right in the farm butcher shop. In addition to ensuring high quality meat, having control over the entire process allows Scott and Jackie to develop tailored products for the Yukon Market. After 30 years in the public service, Jackie now works full time with Scott on the farm.
Shayna Allen: this entrepreneur is stepping into her confidence by serving up delicious eats out of her food truck
Shayna Allen is Inuvialuk from Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Her love of cooking was inspired by her naanak, Mary Allen. Shayna grew up watching her naanak make many dishes with traditional foods both in the kitchen and on the land. Shayna’s culinary creations are best described as fusion.
She loves learning about other cultures and then designing savoury dishes that meld the flavours and techniques of their cuisine with local northern ingredients. One of Shayna’s favourite and much-loved dishes is “Nice Pho What?,” a bone-broth soup featuring Vietnamese spices, thinly-sliced caribou meat, and rice noodles.
Shayna’s innovative and delicious recipes have been featured in the pages of Above and Beyond: Canada’s Arctic Journal and Tusaayaksat. This summer, residents of and visitors to Inuvik had a chance to enjoy the fruits of Shayna’s culinary labour at her new food truck: InuvikEats. Outside of food truck season, Shayna is available for catering and cooking classes. This fall, she will be once again sharing her passion and “kitchen creativity” with young people through cooking classes at the Inuvik Youth Centre.
John Niakrok: this Inuit entrepreneur turned his love of food and family into a thriving business in the heart of Rankin Inlet
Originally from Arviat, Nunavut, John Niakrok has called Rankin Inlet home for 15 years. John is the owner and operator of Iglu Donairs, a full-service gastronomic venture operating from the Rankin Inlet Arena as of January 2022. With ample support from his family, Iglu Donairs has become “the hub of the Kivalliq”. When John is not working, he spends time with his common-law, Stephanie, and two beautiful children, Lyndon and Eleanor.
Inspired as a child by his father’s cooking, John was in his twenties when he discovered he loved spending time in the kitchen. A hunter, camper, and lover of the outdoors, John especially enjoys preparing dishes with caribou and Arctic char he harvested himself. Catering to a variety of customers, John likes to feature a range of feature country food, comfort food, and international dishes.
With a population of 3200 people, Rankin Inlet has a busy calendar of meetings and sports tournaments that draws people in from across the region and it also has a tourism economy that welcomes visitors from around the world. John is excited to continue expanding this entrepreneurial adventure and has goals to open a bed and breakfast with a full restaurant, including an indoor playground.
Lance Raddi Gray is from Inuvik, Northwest Territories, the son of an Inuvialuk mother and a Canadian-born English father. Lance’s love for the outdoors, and especially canoeing, led him south to study outdoor education at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus. He has since returned to the North but travels the world when he can.
Lance’s interest in harvesting local plants started small. He found himself paying closer attention to plants while out for walks with his partner, and then learning more about their uses from his partner and others. With time, this curiosity about his surroundings grew into a deep appreciation for and knowledge of the different plants and natural medicines that exist in the North - many of which people pass by every day without knowing - and also the techniques needed to process these plants and prepare different products.
Gray’s Harvest is committed to sustainably harvesting local plant ingredients and transforming them into usable/consumable products, including delectable teas, syrups, and oil infusions. The Gray’s Harvest team makes products they like to use, knowing their clients will love them too.
Lance is always happy to share knowledge about harvesting, so if you bump into him walking off-trail in search of local herbs or “weeds,” say hello!
Christine is Northern Tutchone and was born in Whitehorse, Yukon. She is a mother of 5 boys, Christian, Sébastien, Brandon, Jaden, and Aaron. At the age of twelve, she moved to Calgary with her mother (who still lives there today with her three grandchildren and son). Her maternal grandmother, Graffee George, is recorded as a missing and murdered Indigenous woman. Her maternal grandfather was a Shaman, and Christine knows that a number of her family members hold special gifts. Christine is a vision dreamer and has dreamed about her own future.
For the past four years, she has delved into cooking and has developed a deep passion for food. Today, she is committed to bringing her love of food to the people of the Yukon. Her food truck name is Bannock Slap Indigenous Soul Food, which comes from a memory of the first time she made bannock with her mother (who gave her the bannock to slap raw). Bannock Slap Indigenous Soul Food features a menu of local, traditional and contemporary flavours. Customers can enjoy a variety of bannock options along with dishes, ice creams and teas featuring seasonal produce.
Christine has been back in the Yukon for over five years and during this time she has learned a lot about colonization and genocide. Her goal is to move forward with thoughts and prayers and to be the change she wants to see, starting with her business.
This video is from the Feeding Our Spirits series, which captures the stories of the entrepreneurs in our Local Food cohort. Click here to see more videos.
This video was made by Brian Ladue of Northern Wild Productions
This is part of the Feeding Our Spirits video series that shares the stories of Northern culinary entrepreneurs who are nourishing their communities with traditional ingredients, innovative techniques, and deep care.