Indigenous Culinary Skills students practise their short-order skills at new on-campus diner

By: Nate Flaman

On the afternoon of March 17, the Prairie Lights Dining Room at Red River College Polytechnic’s Notre Dame Campus filled up with staff and students eager to experience a meal at the college’s new student-run Wiisinin Diner.

The diner’s food, cooked by students in the Indigenous Culinary Skills program, is a fusion of diner fare with an Indigenous twist. The menu features items like bison burgers, fried bannock tacos, and a wild rice salad.

Melissa Flett, an RRC Polytech student, said the diner serves the best food she’s had on campus. She said the price is also fair at $8 per lunch voucher.

Indigenous Culinary Skills student Belinda Johnson, stationed at the flat-top grill, prepares bison burgers for the lunch rush at the Red River College Polytechnic’s Wiisinin Diner on Friday March 24, 2023. (Nate Flaman).

Belinda Johnson, an Indigenous Culinary Skills students who cooks at the diner, said she feels there is a connection between food and community.

“When I’m done here, one of the things I want to do is go back to my community and open up a little catering business,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she plans to open up shop in her community of Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation. She said she’d like to prepare food for ceremonies and funerals to ease the burden on grieving families.

“I would be using a lot of wild meat like how I grew up, learning how to prepare it to feed your family,” Johnson said.

Johnson said she recently had the opportunity to share some of the food she’s prepared at the diner with her family.

“My oldest daughter was here yesterday. She was a little shy to say hi to everybody because my kids know when mom is working you don’t bother momma,” Johnson said.

The Wiisinin Diner will continue to serve breakfast and lunch until April 21. Meal vouchers for the diner can be purchased at the Notre Dame Campus’s bookstore.