I met Inez Cook through an email one afternoon. She was trying to complete her purchase online and somehow the payment step was not working properly. She wrote in and I happened to see her email. We quickly resolved the issue and Inez introduced herself as a local business owner, as well. She told me she owns Salmon n' Bannock and I recognized the restaurant right away. Salmon n' Bannock is one of the most recognizable Indigenous restaurants in Vancouver, BC.
The funny thing is, I haven't had a chance to meet Inez in person, but we have been in communication countless times. I feel like I have known her for a much longer time. When I ate at her restaurant last Thanksgiving, the service I received was impeccable. Inez actually checked in the next day while she was in New Delhi to find out my dining experience was. This woman is so passionate about what she does.
Recently, one of my best friends was interested in donating meals to the Indigenous group in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), so I reached out to Inez. After learning what she has been doing since Covid, I told her I needed to share her most recent projects here with all of you.
Sara: I understand you have been preparing meals for those in need and this initiative was started during the pandemic. Please tell us how you are selecting the organization you are working with?
Inez: We try to partner up with organizations helping Indigenous women and children, as well, we try to find organizations that have a number of people that we can accommodate from our small space, making sure no one would be left out. One organization had 65 people and the other one had 26 people, so we were able to alternate days; we have a very small space and limited storage for products, as well.
Sara: Why is giving back, especially to vulnerable women and children in our community, important to you?
Inez: These women and children have been through a lot of trauma and often are far away from their homes. It feels amazing to provide a healthy comfort meal. Food is medicine and medicine helps heal. Food also brings people together, it combines nourishment and culture.
Sara: As a restaurateur of First Nation heritage, you normally serve food that reflects your heritage. Explain how you transitioned your kitchen to adapt and cater to different needs during this time and why it is important to stay flexible as a business?
Inez: All restaurants have been doing a balancing act during this pandemic. Continued restrictions are a challenge none of us ever imagined or could prepare for. We have had to get creative and stay creative and optimistic.
Now our food is available on Uber Eats in Vancouver, as well, and we have worked on our take-out options and created a small heated patio for outdoor diners.
Sara: I am so happy you are a fan of Amaterasu Beauty. Please share some of your favourite makeup from Amaterasu.
Inez: I LOVE the Liquid Eyeliner!!!! My previous one from another company was discontinued and I had been searching for years to find the perfect black liquid eyeliner. I was originally gifted one and that was the day my cosmetics bag changed forever :) Not only do I get to purchase this for myself and friends, but it’s also a local company and I love supporting local!!
I also love the mascaras, they feel lush and clean, all-in-one, if that makes any sense. It would probably be easier for me to describe my menu haha
I have been a flight attendant for 30 years and it’s such a luxury to find amazing cosmetics that are quality and long-lasting for our very long shifts, totally appreciated!!
Sara: Why do you think it is important for women to be conscious of what ingredients they should omit in their makeup?
Inez: Well, lately with hormones, I easily get reactions to many things. It is so important to figure out those ingredients and not have to worry about those issues.
Thank you so much for your time, Inez. Your work is a huge inspiration to women everywhere and at Amaterasu, we are all about empowering women. It has been an honour to be able to feature this incredible woman this month as June is also Indigenous Awareness Month.
For those who might not be following us on social media, my best friend Dave from Shaughnessy Pharmacy and I were so inspired by Inez that together we donated meals to 26 women at The Vivian, which will be delivered this evening. We hired Salmon n' Bannock to cook these nutritious and wholesome meals and are so excited to be able help out. Inez has been prepping meals as such since Covid so if anyone is interested in also donating meals, please reach out to her here: https://www.salmonandbannock.net/contact
Till then, take good care!