Brendin Kelly escaped from Home with his girlfriend Meghan to experience the incredible culture of the Syilx People in the Okanagan Region. They packed up their car and drove up to the Okanagan to experience art, culture, and traditional food.
After the drive from Vancouver to Kelowna (4 hours), we made it to Kekuli Cafe where we were greeted by the owner, Sharon. She made us feel so welcome and had fresh bannock waiting for us. Bannock is fry bread that can be made savoury or sweet! We decided we had a bit of a sweet tooth, so we got the “Saskatoon Berry” and the “Maple Glaze”, and it was AMAZING. Think of it like the Indigenous version of Tim Hortons!
Our Favourites: Saskatoon Berry Bannock, Wild Salmon Breakfast Sandwich and the Saskatoon Berry Smoothie!
After a delicious meal at Kekuli Cafe, we were picked up by Moccasin Trails for an Indigenous experience like no other.
We were taken on a spiritual journey that involved hiking through sacred land, teaching us about the culture and having real conversations.
Greg at Moccasin Trails was very knowledgeable on how the Syilx people lived and answered all the questions we had. If you want a true Indigenous experience, then I definitely recommend checking them out!
Tip: Moccasin Trails offers a variety of activities; canoe tours, team building, hiking tours & more!
Indigenous World Winery
After the tour we headed to the Indigenous World Winery where we got to try an assortment of wines from the winery.
Indigenous World Winery is the only 100% Indigenous owned winery in the country, how cool is that?
We also loved that all of their wines were named after family member’s traditional/given names. Our favourite wine we tasted was the “Ho-We-Nam-Ho-We-Nem” which was named after the owner’s daughter. It has an amazing flowery perfume taste with a touch of bread brioche.
The views from the main deck area are absolutely breathtaking! Not to mention the facility is state of the art.
Tip: Highly recommend doing a private wine tasting to get the full experience!
Red Fox Club
We ended an eventful day at the amazing Red Fox Club that is located in the same building as Indigenous World Winery.
We had the opportunity to have a 4-course meal with traditional recipes from Indigenous elders. We even ate one of our courses off of a rock! That is definitely the most creative plating we’ve ever seen!
Tip: I highly recommend getting a table outside on the patio to enjoy the views!
Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre
The next part of our trip took us down to Osoyoos where we visited the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.
I have to say that this was my favourite part of our whole experience, and it’s an absolute must if you are in the area.
Our guides Jenna & Keianna were so friendly and informative, and were born/raised in the area. They told us tales of their grandmothers & fathers which made the whole experience that much more special and personal.
We walked the sacred grounds of their people and were taught how they would live, survive and hunt. We couldn’t believe how smart, intuitive and talented the Syilx people were and are. It was an incredible and enriching experience.
Tip: Bring a hat, water & a snack as you will be walking
After an early morning of experiencing the cultural centre, we walked over to Nk’Mip Cellars for a wine tasting.
This is where we met our wine expert and got to indulge in six amazing wines grown on the property. Nk’Mip has about 300 acres of dedicated space for growing their wine!
My favourite wine I tasted was the “Pinot Blanc”, and it had hints of granny smith apple, citrus fruit and lime!
I also recommend walking around the cellar as it’s beautiful, but also because they have lots of historic pieces on the walls as well as information on the winery.
The Patio Restaurant at Nk’Mip Cellars
We then took another short walk over to The Patio Restaurant at Nk’Mip Cellars. The views here were incredible and we were just feet away from the vineyards.
Apart from the views, the food was also amazing. They have a great selection of options for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian and had an assortment of seafood.
Tip: It’s a good idea to get a reservation the day before as this is a popular spot. I can understand why!
The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry
Once we finished up lunch, we checked into the beautiful Spirit Ridge on the Nk’Mip property to freshen up before dinner.
The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry is a fairly new restaurant and was only opened about a year ago. This space was occupied by other restaurants in the past, but this is the first restaurant to incorporate Indigenous cuisine which is a welcomed change!
We were absolutely blown away by the work of head chef Murray McDonald. The whole assortment of dishes he created were incredible, and our favourite dishes were the “Bannock & Spreads” and the “Pacific Halibut”.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it was the best food I have ever had. I never wanted the dishes to end.
If you are wanting a culinary experience like nothing you’ve experienced before, then The Bear, The Fish, The Root and The Berry is an absolute must!
Fun Fact: The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry name is based on their story of the Four Food Chiefs. The Four Food Chiefs are central: Skimxist Black Bear (chief of animals, representing self-sacrifice, leadership, giving), Ntytikxw Chinook Salmon (water creatures, perseverance, hard work), Speetlum Bitterroot (plants below the ground, relationships to the land) and Seeya Saskatoon Berry (plants above the ground, growth, strength, community) are legendary.
I was looking forward to going on this trip for a while and it exceeded any expectations I had. It was so educational, insightful and the culinary experiences we had were out of this world.
We got to see some awe-inspiring landscapes with Mocassin Trails, learn the culture and traditions of the Syilx people from the Nk’Mip Heritage & Cultural Centre, and got to try some traditional dishes at The Bear, The Fish, The Root & The Berry!
If you have ever wanted to learn about Indigenous history in the Okanagan, then there is no better way to learn and experience the history of the Okanagan Syilx People than checking out these places!