"My purpose here is to become an inspiration for all youth and my community to pursue their own dreams."
What is your full name?
Ruby Denise Pahtayken, kîhew Iskwēw- ᑭᐦᐁᐤ ᐃᐢᑫᐧᐤ.
What program are you enrolled in at Okanagan College?
Culinary Arts, currently in Professional Cook Level 2 for 2020.
Where is your hometown?
Onion Lake Cree Nation, Saskatchewan. Wîhcêkaskosîwî - Sâkahikanihk
What brought you to OC? Why did you come to Kelowna to study?
In pursuing my culinary career, I moved to Kelowna. I love that I come from the beautiful Cree plains and moved to a different territory. I was definitely eager to seek out different techniques for cooking. I toured the College before I applied to the unique Indigenous Culinary Arts pilot intake and it's by far been the best decision I've ever made.
Did you bring any other post-secondary education or training with you when you came into your program?
I have a professional cooking certificate from Saskatchewan Polytechnic Palliser campus, and have worked in other culinary capacities before.
Overall, what has your OC experience been like?
The experience has given so much knowledge to both us the students and our instructors as well as supporters of the program. We exchange and share new ideas, new ingredients, infusing and collaborating in different Indigenous styles of cooking. The program is fun and you have to definitely be open-minded and respectful of everyone else's cooking techniques.
Can you name one or two of your favourite moments or highlights from your time in the Culinary Arts program?
First, having the honour to work with amazing chef instructors. The collaborations have been great, like working alongside Indigenous Red Seal Chef Andrew George Jr., who is an amazing mentor. Also including being part of the OTDC Fall Feast with Chef Kim Wallace at the Coast Capri Hotel here in Kelowna.
Second, our OC Indigenous Culinary Arts intake was the highlight in the Okanagan Life Magazine (Summer 2019 edition). My photo was attached to the article in the magazine and promoted in the Kelowna and West Kelowna newspapers. I was proud to be recognized as an Indigenous person with our culture and knowledge behind us.
What do you like most about OC's Kelowna campus?
The campus is very welcoming and beautiful. The OC backyard community garden is my favourite place. To utilize and grow fresh produce from the garden to the plate is great. Then of course, the kitchen.
What do you enjoy most about being in the Culinary Arts program?
Our fieldtrips, and specifically the field trip to Westbank and learning about an entirely different Indigenous group. Smoking fish, foraging, learning the seasons of growth of new roots here in B.C., exchanging types of cooking. I am from Saskatchewan where we have an entirely different environment, different types of fish, wildlife, roots of life and the experience is different.
What have been personal achievements you've celebrated along the way in your program?
Personally, my achievement has been learning about different cultures, languages and being able to be free minded to create dishes to collaborate in our Indigenous ways, and with any other culture, religion, race and perspective.
In your program, have you had the chance to participate in any student initiatives or programming on campus?
Yes, our class was asked to participate and demonstrate in the annual two-day Okanagan College Connections conference. I instructed a class of 25 staff members from OC and demonstrated different ways of bannock making, filleting, preparing, smoking and curing fish. I was nervous but inspired to share the knowledge that I have!
What are your career goals once you complete your program?
My goals and motivation are filled with determination to continue in trades for my apprenticeship. I want to become a female Cree Red Seal Chef and further my education in Hospitality and Tourism Management as well as small business management.
Eventually, I want to run my own Indigenous restaurant. My purpose here is to become an inspiration for all youth and my community to pursue their own dreams. Bringing back the old techniques from our ancestors is a way to learn, share and teach our younger generations. We can carry down knowledge that is passed down from our elders and the passage of life goes from our home fires to other home fires.
Interested in a Culinary or Pastry Arts education?
Rooted in the heart of the Okanagan Valley, the College's Culinary and Pastry Arts programs focus on a farm-to-table approach, exploring fresh local products. Commercial kitchen spaces allow students to learn the latest techniques from Red Seal-certified chef instructors.
What program options are there?
- Culinary Arts Certificate
- Pastry Arts Certificate
- Professional Cook Apprenticeship
- Baker Apprenticeship
- Culinary Management Diploma
- Additional courses in Wine and Tourism
Programs are available at the Kelowna campus with multiple intake dates throughout the year.