The Lil’wat chef who has been baking bannock for 20 years

Maggie Wallace working in the direction of Purple Seal certification, with desires of opening her personal café

Maggie Wallace has baked lots of bannock in her day. 

The 28-year-old Lil’wat chef has been making her model of the Indigenous fry bread since she was a toddler, and now working within the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre’s (SLCC) Thunderbird Café, she has had ample alternative to excellent the recipe. (Wallace additionally works as an envoy on the museum.) 

“Bannock is one thing my mother would make for us rising up on a regular basis. It was one of many first issues that I did discover ways to make. I’ve been making bannock most likely since I used to be about 10 years outdated,” she stated. “You make one thing for therefore lengthy, you excellent it and it simply turns into like respiratory.” 

For Wallace, bannock is an nearly every day a part of her life, however for scores of friends, it’s typically their first introduction to First Nations delicacies. In truth, bannock is one thing of a Computer virus for First Nations cooks, typically mixed with meals which might be extra acquainted to non-Indigenous palates, like tacos and burgers.  

“The factor of bannock is what attracts folks in, however typically the delicacies could be a little bit on the market for the widespread diner,” Wallace stated. 

It’s a narrative that has endured for generations: marginalized communities having to cater to the tastes of the dominant monoculture to make ends meet. New Chinese language immigrants to North America within the late nineteenth century, for example, typically included normal Western dishes on their menus, whereas chop suey, a dish you’d be hard-pressed to search out in mainland China, has its roots within the Chinese language-American diaspora, initially created to utilize no matter leftovers a prepare dinner had mendacity round. 

Now Canada’s authentic inhabitants are preventing to reclaim the id of a delicacies that was, like so many different components of First Nations tradition, systematically ripped from them. Folks like Squamish Nation’s Paul Natrall and his Mr. Bannock meals truck and Inez Cook dinner, proprietor of Vancouver’s Salmon n’ Bannock eatery, have been making headwind on that entrance, however Wallace is hopeful that diners will take the onus themselves to delve deeper into Indigenous delicacies. 

“Simply being extra open-minded in the direction of among the … methods we might method meals,” stated Wallace. 

On the core of Lil’wat delicacies is an appreciation for the ingredient itself, Wallace stated, showcasing a product’s inherent pure flavour. 

“I really feel like in the case of First Nations delicacies, you’re extra specializing in the uncooked merchandise,” she added. “It’s not getting blended in with so many alternative herbs and spices. It’s not being lined up.” 

When it comes right down to it, most British Columbians ought to already be primed to understand Indigenous meals tradition, given the province’s penchant for ingredient-forward delicacies and abundance of high quality recreation, produce and seafood that different components of the world can solely hope for (or import). 

In truth, Ottawa has appeared to acknowledge the immense potential for Indigenous delicacies with the launch, in 2019, of the Indigenous Culinary of Affiliation Nations, a joint effort between the federal authorities and the Indigenous Tourism Affiliation of Canada that's targeted on creating and advertising the nation’s numerous Indigenous culinary experiences to the world. 

Wallace additionally sees the potential for culinary tourism, however stated that First Nations cooks like her want higher entry to training and coaching in an effort to increase the sector to its fullest potential. 

“The problem is discovering a college and even making it to the college as a result of there isn’t an area program that’s truly being run by means of an area faculty,” she stated.  

Simply this week, Wallace handed Stage 2 of the Purple Seal chef certification program that's being supplied by means of Camosun School on Vancouver Island. Fortunately, this system moved principally on-line earlier within the pandemic, which meant Wallace didn’t need to make the lengthy commute to the island for her Stage 1 examination final 12 months.  

As soon as her Purple Seal coaching is completed, anticipated for subsequent spring, Wallace has visions of opening up her personal restaurant—with some assist from her massive sister. 

“She’s gone to highschool for accounting so she would be capable to assist me stability the books. It’s been a dream of mine and my sister’s for a very long time,” she stated.  

The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is ready to reopen on April 28 after being closed for constructing upgrades. Go to for extra.

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