A local filmmaker from the Penticton Indian Band was nominated for four Leo Awards.
Tracey Kim Bonneau has been nominated for best host in an information, lifestyle or reality program series for her TV series Quest OutWest: Wildwood — 21st Century Okanagan. The series also received nominations for best cinematography, best picture editing in the category and is up for best information, lifestyle or reality program of 2016.
Bonneau wanted to ensure that she not take the sole credit for the recognition.
“It feels really good and I know that this recognition is because of the team that I’ve been working with. So I can’t take sole credit for this recognition because to do something on this level you need people that believe in you and there was so many people that believed in me,” Bonneau said.
The prime-time series is broadcast on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN) premiering September 2015. The series was comprised of 13 half-hour episodes revolving around the story of food in the Okanagan. The topic has deep cultural roots revolving around the Four Food Chiefs represented by Bear, Bitterroot, King Salmon and Saskatoon Berry from the oral tradition of the Okanagan people.
“Food is the governing principle of the Okanagan people. In our laws, in our old stories, food an animals are here first. So what the oral story says is that the food provides sustenance for us to keep us alive, so they are like our parents,” Bonneau said. “They take care of us and they take care of us very well by being in season.”
The project took around five years to get off the ground, but the passion and expertise have been building for a lifetime for Bonneau.
“From a very, very young age I always harvested those wild foods with my grandmother on the Penticton Indian Reserve,” Bonneau said.
The series explored the landscapes, the people, the environment and the people behind everyday food. It was shot entirely in the Okanagan, with Bonneau discussing her cultural roots and the importance of food in the identity of her people.
“But also to live well and to eat well,” Bonneau said.
One episode has Bonneau foraging and cooking up what she calls an “invasive meal.”
“Even though there’s plants that are invasive now, they are actually good food,” Bonneau said.
She talks to guests ranging from local winery owners and chefs like Brock Bowes to international food experts, sharing and discussing food and culture.
“Making those parallels between indigenous food and healthy organic,” Bonneau said.
She has a passion for history and research, some of which makes its way to the screen when discussing the history of the Okanagan.
“You learn stuff, but it’s also entertaining and interesting. It’s a different mix, a different way to produce a documentary,” Bonneau said.
When embarking on the project and creating the series Bonneau was not only exploring the importance of food to her people, but leaving a legacy for her children and grandchildren as well.
“The other reason was I’m very concerned about diabetes. Diabetes is the number one unfortunate killer of aboriginal communities now, it surpasses alcoholism, so I wanted to do some investigation and a positive message about diabetes prevention because it’s a 100 per cent preventable disease,” Bonneau said.
“So many people along the way believed in me, so it feels good there’s acknowledgment of the hard work put in by everybody who lent their hands and my producers, it’s good to get acknowledgment because for me I know I’ll continue in this industry,” Bonneau said. “It’s my passion, it’s what I absolutely love to do.”