Staff Feature: Michelle Chartrand's Visit to Alert Bay


In August, Regulatory Affairs Officer, Michelle Chartrand, visited the remote B.C. island of Alert Bay as part of a 300-person reunion. The reunion of the large Indigenous Cook family took place in the remote village off the tip of Vancouver Island and is held every 10 years, providing a chance to connect and heal.

As one of hundreds of descendants of Stephen and Jane Cook, Michelle was able to celebrate her Kwakwaka’wakw heritage in the Namgis Big House – a house modelled after the traditional homes that used to house dozens of family members under one roof.

"Attending the Cook Family Reunion is always a wonderful experience. It was great to see so many family members gathered together. This year was even more special because I got to experience it with my son for the first time.  It was wonderful to share the 'Namgis culture and the family history with him," said Michelle. 

The large reunion was captured by CTV News Vancouver. 

View Article - 300-person reunion on remote B.C. island brings healing to Indigenous family

View Article - CTV News journalist connects with his large Indigenous family for first time

In addition to a book about the family history titled Nuyambalis "The Story That Travels With You", they have created a Cook Family Cookbook. Included in the cookbook is Michelle's Bannock recipe that our staff have enjoyed at past gatherings.

Michelle's Bannock

3 cups flour
2 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup melted butter or canola oil
1.5 cups warm water

Mix flour, baking powder, salt & sugar in a large bowl with a fork. Make a well in the middle and add melted butter & 1.5 cups of water and slowly mix together. Turn onto floured surface and knead 10 times (no more than this or it gets tough).
Spread onto baking sheet (either with parchment paper or a little bit of flour underneath). Poke all over with a fork.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes until it is slightly golden brown on top.  Rub top with a little bit more butter and let it sit for 10 minutes. Turn it onto the side to cool to room temperature for storage or cut and enjoy warm.