Indigenous Chefs and Restaurants Raise Funds to Create Indigenous Feast Boxes

By SteveMcLean 12/8/20 |

Indigenous Feast Boxes — photo provided.
Executive chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther has launched Indigenous Feast Boxes, a fundraising campaign designed to support Indigenous chefs and their teams across Canada that are providing meal kits to Indigenous families and community members in need this holiday season. 

“Giving back to our communities includes supporting staff and securing overall future success,” said Bruneau-Guenther, the owner of Feast Café Bistro from Peguis First Nation and a board member of the Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations (ICAN), in a media release. “This fundraising campaign is a way to secure jobs but also support families, elders, people with health risks and the larger community as a whole. It’s a win-win all around.

“The holidays can be hard financially, but they are also a time of warmth and giving," he added. "We have set a $60,000 goal to ensure Indigenous families across Canada get a healthy warm meal over the holiday season. The chefs will share ingredients and recipes for all to enjoy.”

ICAN is dedicated to sharing Indigenous food, culinary and cultural experiences from across Canada with the world. It signed an agreement last year with the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada to support a strategic framework to develop and market the country’s many Indigenous culinary experiences and, in turn, foster the growth of Indigenous culinary tourism on a national level.

The campaign will run until Dec. 18 and be shared via online crowd-funding platform GoFundMe. Funds will be disbursed from a central pool on a proportional basis across the country, after evaluation by an adjudication team.

The Indigenous Feast Boxes GoFundMe page, which was created on Nov. 24, had raised almost $17,000 from 240 donors as of the morning of Dec. 8.

To bring the campaign to life, ICAN enlisted the support of Indigenous chefs and restaurants across Canada. Using local ingredients and inspiring the box’s contents by their Indigenous heritage and contemporary flair, each chef is creating Indigenous Feast Boxes valued at a minimum of $50 each for a family or group of four to six people.

Families will receive boxes partially or fully prepared, with recipes and cooking instructions detailing the significance of the ingredients chosen that reflect their unique culture and personality. The chefs hand-picked local Indigenous community groups that are most in need to receive the boxes.

“When COVID-19 hit and all our Taste of the Nations events got cancelled, we decided to redirect those efforts by funding $25,000 for the creation and distribution of Indigenous Feast Boxes,” said ICAN board chair Joseph Shawana in the release. “We are very proud that we can continue to share our stories and meals through this campaign. People can visit where we profile blogs, recipes and a map of Indigenous restaurants, food trucks, caterers and culinary experiences across Canada.”

The Feast Café Bistro team led by Bruneau-Guenther is creating boxes in Winnipeg distributed by Ka Ni Kanichihk, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, Indigenous Family Centre and North Point Douglas Women’s Centre.

The ddcx Indigenous Kitchen and Catering team led by Shawana, with the support of Centennial College, is creating boxes in Toronto distributed by Native Child and Family Services of Toronto.

Wawatay Catering, led by chef Marie-Ceclie (Cezin) Nottaway in Maniwaki, Que., is creating boxes distributed by Kitigan Zibi Algonquin First Nation in Rapid Lake, Que.

Wigwam Catering, led by chef Maxime Lizotte from the Maliseet First Nation, is creating boxes distributed by Comptoir Agoshin in Wendake, Que.

Pei Pei Chei Ow, led by chef Scott Iserhoff, is creating boxes in Edmonton distributed by Indigenous Knowledge and Wisdom Centre.

Mr. Bannock Catering, led by chef Paul Natrall, is creating boxes in Vancouver distributed by Dude’s Club.

The Salmon ‘n Bannock Restaurant team led by owner Inez Cook is creating boxes in Vancouver distributed by Helping Spirit Lodge Society.

The Wanuskewin Heritage Park culinary team, under the direction of chef Jenni Lessard, is creating boxes in Saskatoon distributed by Saskatoon Public School Foundation Cheer Crates Program.

Sijjakkut, led by chef Sheila Flaherty, will distribute boxes early in the new year to her Iqaluit, Nunavut community.

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