The following is an interview with Heat, Owner of One Arrow Meats and SPUD Vendor!
Can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your business?
My name is Heat Laliberte and I am a proud transgendered and indigenous Chef/Owner of One Arrow. I make hand cured, naturally smoked and local ingredient driven Bacon. Making bacon is a labour intensive process but it’s very rewarding hearing from customers how much they loved my product! What first started as a side hustle as a Vancouver Farmers Market vendor on the weekends turned into a full-time job. I’m supplying my bacon to Vancouver’s best butcher & artisan cheese shops, Vancouver Farmers Markets, Fresh St. Market and of course, SPUD!
Tell us about your relationship with SPUD.ca.
I was at the West End Farmers Market a couple of summers ago and we had a huge lineup of people wanting our bacon. We did samples and people went nuts for them! I remember there was a man trying to get my attention behind the big crowd. He gave me his business card and it was the director of operations from SPUD. I was pretty stoked on this as I took an indigenous entrepreneur program at the Vancouver Friendship Centre 6 months previous. I was asked by one of the judges during our final presentation/business pitch where I wanted to sell my bacon first and I looked through the window across the street and pointed to SPUD Hastings location. So it was an amazing feeling to get my product listed!
At SPUD.ca, one of our sustainability pillars is to “Cultivate Healthy Community”. In relation to this, we want to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day that is coming up on June 21st! Can you share a bit about what this day means to you as someone who identifies as Indigenous and how the SPUD community can celebrate this day?
I believe NIPD is about celebrating Indigenous peoples Pride and visibility.
It took me years to embrace my heritage because I had no connection to it growing up. I was born in Saskatchewan, adopted into a white family and there was quite a bit of racism that I witnessed as a child indirectly and directly. I was ashamed to let people know I was adopted and I also hid my Cree & Metis heritage from friends. I was only a child but it really bothered me into adulthood that I did not have a connection to my heritage, I felt like a piece of me was missing. My wife got me an online DNA test as a christmas gift and I was able to connect with a relative I found. They were able to contact my birth family on my father’s side. I’m happy to say they are wanting to connect and I finally know I am Cree of Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. For many of indigenous people who lose their connection with their heritage and community, it really takes a part of who they are and there is shame that comes with it. For instance, reading my adoption papers it told me that my birth mother grew up in foster care and her birth mother also was in the care system. Families being broken apart. This historic issue needs to be met with understanding, compassion and healing. I think it’s important for non-indigenous people to recognize and learn the history of racism towards natives across the country. I heard kids are finally being taught about residential schools in high school. In my social studies class I learned about Hudson Bay Company and the fur trade. I believe it’s important to learn the unceded traditional territories (lands that have never been formally given to the Crown in treaty) in where you live and acknowledge them. There are apps for that, so download them and learn your traditional unceded territories!
In your opinion, is there a relationship between food systems and the history of Canada? Is there a way we can use food and food systems to work towards reconciliation and decolonization?
Traditional Indigenous foods are wild game, fish, wild rice, corn, root vegetables ect. But it’s illegal to serve moose meat, bear meat or beluga at an Indigenous restaurant. Indigenous foods are not just bannock. (I love bannock by the way!) Bannock is the name of the stone that the Scottish settlers cooked their bread on. Wheat isn’t indigenous to Turtle Island, it was brought over from Europe by colonizers. On the west coast, nations survive on wild salmon to feed their people. Now there are fish farms which are 90% owned by Norweigan companies in our oceans. These ocean pens are dangerous because of the pollution. The fish can spread disease and sea lice. Once those farmed fish escape their pens (which they have) they damage the ecosystem that indigenous people rely on. Reconciliation and decolonization is about educating yourself and listening with an open mind and heart. There are some very talented Chefs in the city that I’ve become friends with. Supporting their businesses would be an amazing way to show solidarity. Inez Cook (Haida Nation) is Chef/Owner of Salmon & Bannock and has a phenomenal restaurant on West Broadway. Also Paul Natrall (Squamish Nation) has Mr. Bannock food truck & catering business out of North Vancouver. And, Paul Biglin, Owner/operator of Spirit Bear coffee.
Do you have an Indigenous recipe that you’d like to share?
I was honoured to take part in Mark Brand’s “Greasy Spoon Diner Series” last September at Save On Meats. It was a fundraiser for “A Better Life Foundation” (abetterlifefoundation.ca) which provides thousands of meals to the most vulnerable and marginalized community of the DTES. I created a 4 course plated dinner and named each course in my Cree language. Our Niso course (second) was our “Three Sister’s Soup” with Roasted squash, charred corn fritter, mixed bean medley and creme fraiche. We were fortunate to get 50lbs of squash donated to us by UBC Farm. It was the best squash I’ve ever had. There is a story behind the “Three Sisters”. The Iroquois believed that corn, beans and squash were gifts from the Great Spirit. The corn stands tall for the bean vines to cling to. The beans provide nitrogen rich soil and their stalks eventually strengthen and stabilize the tall corn plants. The squash vines create natural shading on the ground and hold moisture in the soil. The squash also prevented weeds from taking over underneath the corn and beans.
Three Sisters Soup. Feeds 6 people
3 Squash (butternut, kuri or acorn)
1 yellow onion
3 carrots peeled
4 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
2 litres chicken stock
2 sprigs fresh sage
2 sprigs fresh thyme
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup fresh green beans
1 cup black beans drained
1 cup cannellini beans drained
salt & pepper to taste
1) Cut squash in half, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, add sprigs of fresh thyme and sage and roast in the oven for 45 min at 400f.
2) Chop onion, celery and carrots into 1 inch pieces.
3) In a large pot saute onion, celery and carrots in 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat until soft.
4) Add 3 cloves of minced garlic to the pot and cook for 2 minutes.
5) Deglaze with white wine until reduced by half.
6) Add chicken stock and simmer on low.
7) Remove roasted squash from the flesh with a spoon and put it into a pot.
8) Blend soup with an immersion stick blender until smooth or a regular household blender (on low speed!)
9) Season with salt & pepper.
10) Trim green beans and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
11) In separate bowl add drained beans and green beans, drizzle with olive oil, add chopped parsley and season with salt & pepper
Serve in soup bowls with 1/4 cup of bean medley in the bottom of the bowl and pour the hot soup on top. Enjoy!
On a different note, Happy Pride Month! Will you be celebrating in any way?
Thank you! Usually our household hosts a Pride Party but this year we will probably have a small gathering with close friends.
Do you have any advice for the SPUD community on how to be good allies to the LGBTQ+ community?
Supporting small LGBTQ+ businesses by purchasing their services and making donations to LGBTQ+ organizations.
Lastly, is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share with the SPUD community?
One Arrow wouldn’t be where it is today without the support from indigenous community organizations like the Aboriginal BEST program hosted by Vancouver Friendship Centre and ACCESS Trades Program. These programs assisted in furthering my Culinary education and gave me confidence to pursue my dreams as a Chef & Entrepreneur. Any indigenous youth reading this right now, you are already resilient. All you need is drive and passion to make your goals and dreams come true!