About the Cookbook

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About the Cookbook

Welcome to the online intercultural community cookbook.  It is the result of a joyful collaboration between the Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) and Vancouver Island University (VIU). Many people contributed to its creation. Several years ago, Felicia Jorgensen, a Vancouver Island University (VIU) anthropology summer intern at Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) began the initial stages of interviewing community members about their recipes.

Many of you will remember the first  cookbook  by Starr Weiss with great fondness and we imagine you are still using those wonderful recipes. Felicia worked under the expert guidance of Emma Koch, Community Relationships Coordinator. In 2016, Lynn Weaver, Executive director CIS, Emma Koch and Helene Demers, Anthropology Professor, brainstormed possible community research projects for Helene’s second year cultural anthropology class and the idea of an online intercultural community cookbook was born.

When Emma left her position, Jennifer Yee Fairweather, Intercultural Partnership Network Coordinator, came onboard to assist with coordination – a food lover if not a cook.  Michael Paskevicius, Learning Technologies Application Developer, from VIU’s Centre for Innovation and Excellence in Learning, joined our team to assist with designing a website and his expertise, enthusiasm and love of cooking were warmly welcomed and appreciated.

The students interviewed each other and community members and at the end of the semester all the contributors were invited to join the class for a potluck on the campus. One of the anthropology students, Lianne MacWatt, continued on with the project as an intern and spent the summer gathering more recipes and writing stories edited by Helene. We cannot say enough about Lianne’s central role in the launching of the project. She is truly at the heart of the cookbook and tested many of the recipes on her family. We invite you to join us in celebrating diversity in the Cowichan Valley by contributing your own recipes, stories and photos.

Lianne MacWatt, Jennifer Yee Fairweather, Michael Paskevicius, and Helene Demers photographed by Kyle Storr

Family recipes and stories of family gatherings are experiences we all share across cultures. A favourite dish will trigger memories from childhood and recall stories passed down from generation to generation. The recipes and the dishes created from them become the living libraries of our heritage. Our intention with the online intercultural community cookbook is to share these stories and to inspire you to carry on the stories of your heritage through food.

The Heart of the Cookbook: Lianne Macwatt

lianne-photo1354Lianne was born in the Arctic and is the daughter of a Scottish father, Donald, and Inuk mother, Bessie. Both parents gave her a deep appreciation for nature and culture and Lianne’s favourite memories are of being on the land with her mother. Sharing food and meals was instilled at an early age; “My mother always shared her harvest, whether it was a few fish or a caribou. One thing that has always stayed in my mind was her saying, “Food always tastes better when you share.” She laughs: “Sometimes she’d say it just to get a piece of my chocolate bar.” Food in many ways means home and community to Lianne because, “Whenever you went to someone’s house you were always fed, even it was a biscuit and a cup of tea, it was just a given.” Today Lianne lives in the Cowichan Valley with her beautiful daughters, Mary and Sophia, and is working towards a degree in anthropology and First Nations Studies. She enjoys putting her love and energy into preparing food that will be shared and in her family everyone checks to see what Lianne has planned for birthdays or holidays.

Thank you Lianne for putting your love and energy into gathering these stories and recipes – you are truly at the heart of the cookbook.

Helene Demers
Department of Anthropology
Vancouver Island University

Jennifer Yee Fairweather
Intercultural Partnership Network Coordinator
Cowichan Intercultural Society

About VIU:

Known as a centre of excellence for teaching, applied research and learning, Vancouver Island University (VIU) is a dynamic, internationally known university supporting a student population of 18,000 learners, including 1,800 international students and approximately 2,000 Indigenous students. One of VIU’s core values is to build collaborative and reciprocal relationships with community and educational partners to provide relevant support to the cultural, economic, environmental and social needs of the regions we serve. Learn more at  https://www.viu.ca/

About Cowichan Intercultural Society:

The Cowichan Intercultural Society (CIS) is spearheading the movement to welcome and support refugees to the community.   CIS is the leading immigrant and refugee aid organization in the region. We facilitate mutual respect, trust, support and education in the culturally diverse Cowichan Valley. Our vision is of an inclusive and welcoming community, where every person feels valued and has a sense of belonging.

Anthropology 211 student interviewers and contributors:

  • Christine Gilbertson
  • Byron Johnston
  • Curtis Knippelberg
  • Lianne  MacWatt
  • Meena Manhas
  • Richard Painter
  • Karissa Percival
  • Shannon Pite
  • Steven Robertson
  • Kendra Swain
  • Brandon Vomacka
  • Laurissa Wikkerink
  • Jude Wong


The recipes, photos and stories from this project will be made available online under a Creative Commons Attribution -ShareAlike 4.0 International License with the original contributors of the work listed as the copyright holder.

Homepage image credits:

Korean table | Flickr – Photo Sharing!  | Author – Republic of  Korea | License

La Boqueria | Wikipedia | License

Spices1 | Wikipedia | Author – Bertrand Devouard | License

Thai market food 01 | Wikipedia | Author – Takeaway | License

CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.