We're honoured to be working on a special project with new friends from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg community near Maniwaki, QC. We've spent the last year getting to know Anna Cote and Mike Diabo as they've opened their home, community and hearts to our team.
This collaboration culminates Saturday November 30th at the Ottawa Art Gallery with The Good Way, a now sold out four-course dinner featuring Indigenous-inspired dishes sourced from the land near Kitigan Zibi with beer pairings. Proceeds support the Kitigan Zibi Canoe & Kayak Club.
ANNA & MIKE
Anna is the founder and head chef at The Birch Bite. As a graduate of the Algonquin College culinary program and the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, she's fiercely dedicated to reconnecting people in her community with their traditional diet. Her dishes showcase food from the land, often harvested by her own hands.
Anna Cote, founder of The Birch Bite restaurant in Kitigan Zibi.
Mike is a teacher in all senses of the word. He is a high school science instructor in Kitigan Zibi and an inspiring and knowledgeable guide. Over the past year he's generously shared stories, insights and led us out on the land as we've learned, observed and participated in things we'd never have otherwise experienced.
Mike Diabo, pictured on the water near Kitigan Zibi
In January 2019 we were introduced to Mike and Anna over dinner and discovered we shared a passion for food, beer and a mutual desire to do something positive to bring our communities together. We agreed to work together in the spirit of getting to know one another, forging connection and learning. Over the last year, we've become friends as we've undertaken frequent visits back and forth from the brewery to the community of Kitigan Zibi and to the land that surrounds it. We've spent time together and followed Anna and Mike as they hunted, fished and gathered ingredients for The Good Way dinner and our collaborative beer of the same name.
Our friend Blair Gable, a talented editorial photographer and videographer, has joined us on these trips in a bid to document the experience. A short documentary about the project and focused on Anna and Mike's connection to the land and the food that comes from it will be screened for the first time at The Good Way dinner.
Our collaboration takes its name from a concept first expressed to us by Mike and Anna. It's a phrase that has the effect of communicating a lot by saying very little. At its essence, we understand the good way to be about respect for the people and traditions of those who came before us, acting humbly and with intention and acknowledging the inter-connectedness between all people and things.
Dominion City head brewer Scott Denyer harvests cattail root in Kitigan Zibi for The Good Way, a beer brewed using this traditional Anishinabe starch source.
The Good Way will feature four courses of Indigenous-inspired dishes featuring traditional ingredients sourced from the land near Kitigan Zibi. In many cases, these ingredients (moose, beaver, fish like Walleye and Sucker, botanicals like Yellow Birch, sumac and wild garlic and more) were foraged and harvested by Mike and Anna and our team during our visits out on the land.
Anna will be supported in the kitchen by two Ottawa chefs, Katie Ardington, Executive Chef at The Beckta Group and Holly Laham, founder of Holly's Hot Chicken and a talented baker.
Guests can expect to be seated at long harvest-style tables with dishes served family-style with large shared plates. Unfortunately not all dietary restrictions can be accommodated, if in doubt please send us a note!
We would like to acknowledge and thank the Ottawa Art Gallery for generously making their space available for this dinner.
Hunting is an integral part of Anishnaabe life and a vital food source.
Mike and Anna join their family on a Fall moose hunt, a tradition dating back millenia.
Proceeds from the The Good Way dinner support the Kitigan Zibi Canoe & Kayak Club. Led by teachers Jan Cote and Celine Whiteduck, the club offers basic paddling instruction for teens in the community. Together with Wakefield resident Scott Duncan, the club has been at the forefront of establishing Chimeda - Paddling Together, an annual paddle of the Gatineau River bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth to get to know one another and build bridges while paddling our shared watershed. The Chimeda has been celebrated as a shining example of community-based reconciliation.
WORKING TOGETHER AND MOVING FORWARD
Shawn Dube on a family moose hunt near Kitigan Zibi
While we've learned a great deal about this incredible place and people, we know we've only begun this journey. We're pleased to have an opportunity to share the fruit of this project with you and to invite you to join us in getting to know Mike, Anna and their neighbours in Kitigan Zibi. Together we hope to create an opportunity to better understand and appreciate the richness of their culture, traditions and their deep and ongoing connection to the land.
We recognize the privilege to live and operate on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg who were here before us and who remain here today. As settlers, we pledge to walk gently and with respect. Miigwetch!