By Elisia Seeber
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A documentary TV series which explores Indigenous cuisine and culture across British Columbia is set to launch its third season this month.
The new season of the culturally rich show, Quest OutWest Wild Food, will air on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network on Feb. 11.From the forests of Vancouver Island to the shores of the Okanagan, viewers are invited to follow host and producer Tracey Kim Bonneau as she stops to meet old friends and new, prepare tasty meals and share traditional knowledge. Bonneau, who is Syilx/Okanagan Nation and lives in Penticton, said her passion to create and develop the documentary series had always been about “encapsulating a stunning cinematic journey of my people’s delectable Indigenous food traditions.”
“The series features my people’s beauty and resilience, rediscovery, and the celebration and the comeback of wild food in our homes,” she explained.
“For over half a century, Syilx customary food tradition practices were diminished, due to enforced colonial laws that outlawed food ceremonies, in Canada until 1951. These laws permanently damaged our customary dietary needs. Syilx people were denied access to our wild food gardens and traditional hunting grounds.”
She said things were now changing, and we were in a “very special time in history.”
“The cuisine prepared is shared by my guests’ accounts of foodie history,” said Bonneau. Stories of renewal, new health and traditions now being practised. Our Syilx traditions of respect and reciprocity is the core of my approach to engage the audience.”
After two successful seasons, there was still so much more to share that Bonneau couldn’t help but embark on a new season.
“In the spirit of reconciliation, I wanted to continue the journey to share the tremendous amount of good work being accomplished between Indigenous peoples and settlers, regarding our love and protection of wild and organic food systems,” she said.
“That was the topic of exploration with guests in Season 3.”
Viewers can expect to enjoy a colourful feast of interviews with elders, gardeners and historians located in the Okanagan and Secwepemc unceded territories of B.C.
“Stories range from the meeting of a chef and elder at the Quaaout Lodge in Chase, to an exquisite tour and organic meal at the Okanagan Lavender and Herb Farm in Kelowna,” said Bonneau.
Over the seasons, Bonneau has written and produced more than 39 episodes and said while it takes an incredible number of exhausting hours to produce a series with an extremely limited budget, it was always worth it in the end.
“For me it’s about those magical moments when I complete an interview, pick-up shoot and then later view a rough cut … then cry quietly, realizing all the hard work to make this dream come true is …. truly happening,” she said.
“Of course, it’s the incredibly delicious food that I love to prepare and the meaningful conversations around the fire that inspire me to want to do this forever.”
For Bonneau, the production crew is more like a family and at the end of a season she always has “a feeling of sadness” in her heart.
“I always wonder if I will be so fortunate to do this again,” she said.
The documentary series has previously been recognized for its original rich culture. Bonneau garnered four Leo Award nominations for the show in the Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Foundation of British Columbia’s annual awards program.
Watch episodes of Quest OutWest Wild Food on APTN.