The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is featured in a new documentary series Red Chef Revival, which follows three Indigenous chefs as they travel across the country unearthing culinary traditions and exploring what modern Indigenous cuisine means to them.
Director Ryan Mah said there were a couple of reasons why they wanted to film an episode in the region.
“We know that there is a lot more to Fort Mac than the forest fire that happened so we wanted to go back and see what happened afterwards.
One of the things I wanted people to learn is that when the forest fires were happening a lot of the Indigenous communities opened up their doors and the community really started to bond together because of this tragedy.”
Chef and host of the episode Cezin Nottaway spent time in Janvier.
“Cezin went out to meet some people there, she went to the Janvier fire department, one of those places that opened doors for the community and has learned that those communities are very tightly knit and she learned a lot from them.”
She also had another reason why she wanted to visit the region.
She became a Chef after her husband was arrested for growing and selling pot and she had to find work to support their family.
Despite the hard times Nottaway and her husband were able to turn their lives around and create a successful business.
After hearing that Fort McMurray First Nation 468 was building their own pot growing facility now that it is legalized, Nottaway wanted to see how this Indigenous community was using pot and she is able to find a deep connection between food and healing.
Mah says reconciliation can be found through food.
“Food is a great way to touch on a multitude of subjects.”
In the episode Nottaway meets different locals, learns how they use pot in their cooking and makes beaver tail.
“Like the actual beaver tail, not the pastry,” said Mah. “And Cezin, her signature thing is maple syrup, she taps her own maple syrup and made a beaver tail toffee.”
You can catch the full series now on YouTube, or watch the episode below.