Teetering on being diagnosed with diabetes, Tracey Bonneau knew her lifestyle of processed foods had to change.
Already she had lost an aunt from complications of the disease. It was one of the driving forces behind the Okanagan artist, filmmaker and documentarian’s idea for a travel-tourism food series. Quest outWest — Wild Food was one of three projects picked up for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network for 2013.
“One of the things that really bothered me was the level of diabetes killing aboriginal people, but it’s not just aboriginals, it’s a world-wide epidemic along with obesity in children. I thought about what I could do to make a difference and how we all can educate each other to make a difference,” said Bonneau. “These are things that are totally preventable. This show is not just a health and fitness program, it is practical things you can do that go back to restoring your natural system and presented in an interesting and fun way.”
Bonneau has 25 years of experience writing for print, radio and TV as a journalist and producing documentaries. Her TV series shows off the Okanagan-Similkameen and the champions of healthy eating and living.
Bonneau is about to hit post-production on her 13 episode TV series, each a half-hour, which wraps filming on June 12. Once that is complete, APTN will decide on the air dates.
“I hope people will learn something from it, get some good recipes and the most important thing is putting the Okanagan on the map,” said Bonneau. “We have an abundance of food culture here and we are all in this together. I’m really excited to bring this to air, not just for the First Nations, but it shows everyone we can all work together to be healthy.”
Among some of the people and places featured are John Terbasket who talks about grain-fed cattle, an episode at the Keremeos Grist Mill, and Cheyenne Kruger speaking about the community gardens on the Penticton Indian Band. Each episode weaves together threads about growing up Okanagan, family, community, culture and health. Within that they gather and prepare traditional food.
Bonneau has also invited episode guests such as actor Nathaniel Arcand, known for his roles on the TV series Arctic Air, Heartland and Blackstone, and actor Justin Rain, who also was in Arctic Air, Blackstone and was in the film The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Bonneau and Rain spent time in Oliver at Chef Chris Van Hooydonk’s Backyard Farm.
“We wanted to take positive role models and invite them on the show as well to learn about the things they know about aboriginal health and wellness,” said Bonneau. “We are very lucky to be living in the Okanagan and we want the world to know about it.”
This week, Bonneau finished filming an episode on the Penticton Indian Band with Chief Jonathan Kruger and his daughter Sage Kruger.
“We also want to feature community members who are heroes of healthy eating and living and Jonathan and Sage are some of those people doing that. Okanagan people have men as hunters but also women who want to be providers and Sage grew up wanting to be a hunter like her dad,” said Bonneau. “We talk about that, the rites of passage and make food like Okanagan people do at hunting camp. Camping is a Canadian tradition and these are things any person camping would find useful.”
Bonneau also has designs for a intricate digital media component that includes the website www.wildfood.com (not yet live) featuring businesses that she worked with while filming the series, recipes and an interactive component.
Bonneau has also created jobs with a 10-person film crew and local people working as interns, shooting on a $900,000 budget.
“It has been a great experience, even though the days can be long filming. I’m so glad to be able to have a couple of aboriginal interns that can learn new skills as well,” she said.