Here is a little sharing about me…
I am at least ¼ Cree on my father’s side. My family always told us not to tell anyone about our Aboriginal roots because we would be looked at differently. I never met my Kookum and that fact makes me sad. I was too young when she passed to know any different.
My father was adopted by his Aunt. This is the lady that I grew up to call Grandmother. She was a wonderful lady that raised my Dad and his brother as her own. She had a huge heart and did a lot of charity work throughout her lifetime. I really looked up to her. Out of respect, I waited until I was an adult and she had passed to do any kind of searching on my family history. The first search I did came to a dead end because my Dad’s adoption records were sealed, even though I could identify myself as his daughter.
It struck me really hard as a kid in elementary school. My brother looks very Aboriginal, looks very much like my father. I got the German looks from my Mom’s side; blonde hair and blue eyes. Chief Dan George was coming to our school to do a presentation and a healing circle. All the Aboriginal children were allowed to attend and take time off of their regular classes to go. I asked my teacher but was denied because I “wasn’t aboriginal”. My brother got to enjoy meeting a man that I had looked up to my whole life. I never did get to meet him before he passed a short time later.
That struggle continued for me my whole life. Wanting to learn, wanting to belong but never fitting in.
Fast forward to meeting Ian and discovering Native Delights
It wasn’t just a restaurant and it is not just a kiosk. It is an experience.
Ian was born in Treaty 8 territory. When all the other kids wanted to grow up and play hockey or become doctors or scientists, Ian wanted to cook. It spoke to him. He did go out and work in the oil patch like just about every Albertan does at some point in their life. His dream was always to cook, to open that restaurant and he never swayed from that path. Ian overcame a lot of adversity to be where he is today, and I have nothing but love and respect for him and his family. They are amazing human beings.
When I first experienced one of his bannock burgers, I was hooked from the delicious tastes and textures that hit me. I am also one of those people that quietly observes (introverted) and you can see the people enjoying themselves and friends going up to talk to Ian. It was good energy all around.
When Ian got to open a brick and mortar restaurant, I was thrilled! Now there was flavoured bannock and locally made medicinal teas, stew and more. I liked how there was no liquor on the menu and it wasn’t even something that Ian was considering. The atmosphere here was one of family. When you stepped into the restaurant for dinner, many of the people there knew each other. It was relaxing to be able to enjoy a meal with my family in a space filled with such positive energy.
The restaurant closed its doors a couple of years ago. I miss it. Native Delights went back on the road with the trailers to different events. I enjoyed the bannock when I could.
2017 brought back the Native Delights kiosk and “Pânsâwân”. “Pânsâwân” is traditional dry meat. (Elder Approved!) Thin strips of Buffalo meat that are smoke to dry them. No salt, no added preservatives. If you like a nice smoky flavour without all the crap that is in commercial jerky, then you really need to get yourself some Pânsâwân. It is available at both kiosks. The smaller size is $20 and there is a lot of jerky for your money, and much healthier for you!
The kiosk in the Super Flea Market in Edmonton has a separate store area with the Pânsâwân, some products from local makers and Mother Earth Essentials. I do need to give praise to Mother Earth Essentials. I first discovered their products on a trip to Ft McMurray. The hotel I was staying in uses their shampoo and conditioner in the rooms. I looked them up and found out that they were Edmonton based and immediately went and bought items for home. Her products are AMAZING. I can see why Ian supports her. Give the store a visit. The Peppermint and Sage line makes your scalp feel so good.
2018 brought the first franchise for Ian and family. The Super Flea Market location is now owned by the lovely Melissa, who will be sure to uphold the same quality as Ian would himself. I attended the grand opening of the kiosk on February 24th. They know how to put on a party! It all opens with a prayer… There was free bannock and stew, face painting for the kids, singers and drummers and so much more. I was sad that I couldn’t stay longer. The place was super busy and the energy was amazing! The drummers overflowed my heart with pride and brought tears to my eyes.
I got to congratulate Ian briefly as he was very busy and also got to meet Melissa.
The menu at the Super Flea kiosk is a little different. They took over a kiosk that had been there for years churning out breakfast, pub type foods and ice cream. They decided to keep all of these flea market favourites and add the Native Delights menu to it as well. From what I can see, it works for this space!
The Bison Bannock Burger is my favourite and the Indian Taco is a close second. If you follow the Facebook Page, they are very good about getting the daily specials out there for the Athletic Club kiosk. If you haven’t experienced bannock yet, this is a great place to get started. Their bannock is pretty damn good.
If you see Native Delights out and about on the streets of Edmonton this summer, be sure to stop and grab a burger. A great local business that supports other great local businesses.
Thank you Ian for all that you do for the Aboriginal community here in Alberta. Âyihây!