FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Fort St. John residents enjoyed the third annual Taste of Fort St. John event held at the Curling Club by the Fort St. John Multicultural Society on Saturday.

Though the event was smaller than in previous years and held inside, the venue was still filled with incredible smells from cultures from around the world.

The event started with the singing of ‘O Canada’ and a performance from Indigenous Drummers.

Wandering around the event and stopping for pictures was a traditional dragon.

Resident Elmer Castillo attended the festival for the first time today and enjoyed himself.

“I am able to taste the local cuisine and, at the same time, multicultural food,” he explained.

He enjoyed some bison and bannock and described it as “so good.”

He mentioned that he would like to see more cuisines in the future, but this is “better than nothing,” especially after the pandemic.

Olive Tree was present, representing the Mediterranean culture with homemade spanakopita, lamb skewers and baklava as appetizers.

The booth offered platters of chicken souvlaki with greek rice, tzatziki sauce, greek salad and pita, a greek chicken platter with tzatziki, greek salad and pitta, and a lamb platter with greek rice, tzatziki, greek salad and pita.

Next to their station, Annette Campbell and her family were busy selling and cooking Jamaican food.

Campbell’s family business is called Island Flavour, and they were cooking and selling plantains, jerk chicken and festivals.

Campbell said she is excited to try Filipino cuisine if she gets a chance.

She has done this event each year it’s happened now, and it means a lot to her.

“It means a lot to put my flags out there and to actually put my country out there, to promote my own food and multiculturalism,” she said.

“I’m having a good day, and I’m loving what I do,” she added.

Next to Island Flavour was an Indian food station with mango shakes, mango muffins and a curry combo with bread from Cob’s Bread.

Another Indian food vendor was Indian Essence with butter chicken rice and samosa.

The owner made sure that volunteers didn’t go hungry either by offering them free food.

Indian Essence workers with owner Gaurav Kumar in the centre. (Alan Yu)

Beside the Indian food, Mama Pat’s Kitchen had a food truck set up, but due to having just finished up another event, they were only serving Pad Thai and freezies instead of their typical addition of slushies and ice cream.

Mama Pat’s Kitchen food truck and family.

A few tables set up for Filipino cuisine were on the other side of the truck.

They offered three combo options: Combo A included Pancit Guisado and spring rolls, Combo B was Rice and Pork Menudo, and Combo C was Pancit and a spring roll.

They also had fish balls with a choice of sauce and Halo-halo, a popular dessert from the Philippines made of crushed ice, evaporated or coconut milk and various other ingredients.

There were two local stands on the opposite side of the multicultural cuisines.

One of those tables featured Sticky’s Candy offering “Around the World” bags, boxes of candy, Bannock mix, and freeze-dried skittles.

Next to Sticky’s Candy’s booth, a few tables were set up for Indigenous cuisine, with Doig River First Nation members explaining the free food to attendees.

They were serving smoked, baked, and deep-fried bison, bison burgers, and oven-baked and deep-fried bannock.

Shirley Acko, a linguist with Doig River First Nation, says that the festival brings all the different ethnic groups to Treaty 8 territory and shares what they eat.

“[We are] serving bison dry meat. That’s what we do for our livelihood. We still live off the land, 100 per cent. I’m just glad to be a part of this, and everything we’re serving today is free to the public,” she explained.

“We’ve got a lot of good things going on in Doig, and I’m glad to be from Doig.”

Shona Nelson, Doig River First Nation Band Manager or Dane-zaa ghaa adishtl’ish gha deh and President of the Fort St. John Multicultural Society, was also in attendance.

She says the goal of the society is to foster a relationship between newcomers to Canada and the pioneers that have been here a long time.

“Everyone likes food. Breaking bread or sampling different food is a nice way to bridge relationships, build relationships, bridge cultures and learn from each other,” she explained.

She mentioned that they are always looking for volunteers and committed members who would like to support these events.

“In Beaver, they always say Tsúú Naa Yeh, be kind, and I think this is a great space where we can keep that vision and message going,” she said.

Doig River First Nation councillor Garry Oker says he thinks it’s important that newcomers understand that “the Indigenous communities are still alive.”

“This is our territory, and we still have our language, culture, food, the way we prepare things and the use of animals,” he explained.

“I think those are very important for the local people that come from different countries to experience this, so that’s why we like being part of this.”

Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for energeticcity.ca. Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.