Identity on the plate: The eater embraces her Anishinaabe-Jamaican roots through food

This story is part of the “Black People on the Prairie” project, which includes articles, personal articles, images, etc., exploring the past of black lives in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. Now and in the future. Enter the “Black People on the Prairie” project here.

Melissa Brown fell in love with cooking when she was four. Now, the small business owner of Anishinaabe-Jamaican has merged her two cultures into a unique cooking style, bringing some new things to customers.

Brown was raised by Anishinaabe, a single mother in Red Lake, Ontario. Her mother grew up in bushes with no running water and often cooked on the fire.

Brown said: “My mother cooks a lot of stews, a lot of meat, fish, just things she knows. You know, there is nothing too extravagant.”

Brown’s father is Jamaican and he met her mother while living in Winnipeg in the 1980s.

Brown said that the relationship she grew up with her father was “sporadic” and “contradictory”, but she traveled to Jamaica with him for a month when she was 12 years old. This is how she was introduced to a new culture and a new look. The reason for the way. In food.

Brown said: “This is definitely a culture shock.”

“Their lifestyle, openness-they are very candid. You will see people dancing in the street and music playing loudly.”

While in Jamaica, she was introduced to bastard chicken, plantain and breadfruit cooked under an open flame.

It was not until after she graduated from university that she began to try her own way of cooking.

Brown said: “That year, I started cooking and began to study more indigenous cultural food because I didn’t do anything for a year.”

“At that time I started to study Jamaican food and indigenous food, and then I fell in love with my passion for cooking.”

Black on the prairie7:11Melissa Brown puts her Aboriginal and Caribbean specialties on a platter

Melissa Brown of Winnipeg grew up in close ties with Ojibway and certain identities in Jamaica. When she rediscovered her lifelong passion for cooking, Melissa accidentally discovered the tools needed to reconcile her two ancestors. 7:11

Today she caters in Winnipeg. She said that her plates, especially her bannock, were very popular among indigenous and black communities.

Brown grew up on the west side of Winnipeg. She said that her mother talked about Anishinaabemowin. Compared with the family she met in Jamaica, she was very shy.

Brown grew up as Anishinaabekwe culturally, and had some difficulties in contacting Jamaican identities.

Brown said: “All my friends are indigenous. If they are not, they are black like me and half of them are locals.” “Many of us grew up in the west end, but all of us treat each other as indigenous. Because our mother is.”

She said it takes some time to make herself proud of being an indigenous woman because she is constantly reminded of all the troubles that indigenous people face.

Melissa Brown studied Aboriginal and Jamaican cuisine and incorporated it into his diet. She said she is grateful for her community support in Winnipeg. Lenard Monkman/CBC

She said that knowledge of cooking helps her to appreciate her unique foundation.

“The more education I have, the more I can discover my culture in cooking.”

Now, she has only 3 children, and she dreams of opening a kitchen cooperative and passing on the teachings to her sons.

“I just want them to be proud of who they are.”

The Blacks on the Prairie project is supported by the Canadian Blacks Organization.For more stories about the experience of black Canadians, check out Become a black Canadian here.


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