Inspiring Indigenous entrepreneur: Salmon n’ Bannock bistro.


Welcome to our special blog created in collaboration with Dakota Duncan Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Nation member, a Marketing Coordinator at Vancity and a passionate Salmon n’ Bannock enthusiast.

We’re thrilled to shine a spotlight on one of our Vancity members, Salmon n’ Bannock.

In 2011, Vancity established a lasting bond with Salmon n’ Bannock. Co-founders Remi Caudron and Inez Cook, a Nuxalk Nation member and Sixties Scoop survivor, started the restaurant in 2010 and looked for financial support to expand their business. This is where Vancity stepped in!

Throughout our conversation we learned how community support impacts business success. Vancity has played a role in providing that support. Read more as we learn about their invaluable contribution to our community.

Can you share how your Indigenous roots inspired you to start your business?

I had seen a restaurant in Kelowna (Kekuli Cafe) with a big sign: ‘Don’t panic we have bannock ‘ and I realized Vancouver no longer had an Indigenous restaurant and it was time as the whole world was coming during the 2010 Olympics. It was a chance to introduce the world to the authentic Indigenous flavors that had been missing in Vancouver.

What role has Vancity played in supporting your business?

Vancity has been instrumental in Salmon n’ Bannock’s journey. They provided us loans and ongoing support from the early days. Vancity’s Community Business supported us with a microloan for this first location on Broadway.  Then last year, with the help of Karen Gray, Community Business Account Manager, they provided us with a Canada Small Business Financing Loan to help finance the equipment and leasehold improvements for our second location at YVR airport.  We even won a generous money mob with their assistance, and top executives personally aided us during busy times. Vancity also hired us for significant catering events. Their support goes beyond traditional banking, and you truly feel their genuine community care — it’s truly appreciated (and I wasn’t paid to say that).

“At Vancity, we’re passionate about empowering Indigenous businesses — it’s not just our goal, it’s our passion.”
Karen Gray, Community Business Account Manager

Could you describe the importance of honoring and celebrating your Indigenous heritage in your menu?

We take Indigenous ingredients and serve it with a modern palate. For example, with our Manoomin (wild rice), we make a risotto.  We also take pemmican (smoked, dried meat) and serve it with sage, infused blueberries and cream cheese and make it into a mousse serving it with Bannock crackers. Our salmon burger is house-smoked using sage — these are just a few examples.

What challenges did you face in the early stages of starting your business and how did you overcome them?

There were many big challenges. The culinary world didn’t know me, and even within the Indigenous community. Coming from a background in the airline industry, I had a lot to prove. I worked extremely hard. And during the challenging times of the pandemic, it was the support of the community that got us through.

Can you tell us the importance of community support in running your business?

It was the community support that got us through the pandemic. The support, encouragement and understanding helped sustain us. We embarked on an incredible nation-wide collaborative fundraiser. We received assistance from generous people, helping us stay afloat and continue serving our community. Thanks to the donations we received, it helped keep our lights on. We were also able extend our reach to different shelters and organizations across the country. This initiative brought together other Indigenous restaurants and chefs, allowing us to give back. Also, through Vancity, we were able to receive an interest-free loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account.

As an Indigenous entrepreneur, what strategies have you used to ensure the sustainability and success of your restaurant?

We always use top-quality ingredients, like wild fish. We are proud to say that we have never compromised on the quality of our ingredients by resorting to the “f” word, meaning farmed fish. We hold a deep respect for the food we serve and are committed to honoring the integrity of our products and it shows.

What advice do you have for other Indigenous entrepreneurs who are considering starting their own business, particularly in the food industry?

My advice is to start with catering to show your culinary skills and build your brand. Find a mentor for valuable insights and guidance. Enroll in entrepreneurial courses to enhance your business acumen. Secure funding through grants, loans, or investments. Remember, you don’t have to be everything to everyone.

Additional resources to support Indigenous entrepreneurs:

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