Inez Cook’s journey has come full circle.
I started my Flight Attendant career thirty years ago. It has given me the opportunity to meet the world and celebrate the culture I yearned for. My dream was to open a restaurant and take people on a journey to experience what I had been able to in my worldwide travels. I wanted guests to feel like they ‘got away’ through a dining lens.
After five and a half years abroad, I was ready for a change. I got hired with Air Canada and moved home to their Vancouver base.
It was just before the Vancouver 2010 Olympics; the whole world was coming. I had just returned from Kelowna, where had seen an Indigenous restaurant, and was surprised there was no longer one in Vancouver. I shared this information with a close friend and thought it was time to celebrate my heritage. We worked day and night and opened Salmon n’Bannock Bistro on Feb 15th, 2010.
There was a lot of media attention with the new Indigenous bistro, and it was printed everywhere that I was Nuxalk (New-halk). Being part of the Sixties Scoop, I had been adopted out and no one in the Nuxalk community knew me. The Nuxalk community thought possibly it wasn’t true, maybe I was choosing a culture just far away enough that no one would ask questions.
A lady came in, snapped questions at me. I knew my biological mother’s name. So, I told this lady, she got on the phone, and when I returned with her tea, she was standing with her arms extended and said, let me be the first to welcome you home.
We are family.
11/11/11 I went back to Bella Coola for the first time as an adult. I was reconnected to my community at a three-day Potlatch. I received regalia and my traditional name Snitsmana. This is the first time in my life I truly felt like I belonged.
My dream restaurant was to take people on a journey, I had no idea the journey I was taking them on was my journey within.