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NWT Culinary Festival will change plans to help feed evacuees

A screengrab from a promotional video for the Yellowknife Culinary Festival
A screengrab from a promotional video for the Yellowknife Culinary Festival.

Some of this week’s NWT Culinary Festival is being transformed into an operation to help feed wildfire evacuees from Behchokǫ̀.

The four-day festival, the first of its kind to be held in Yellowknife, is due to begin on Thursday.

Around 2,000 people were ordered to leave Behchoko because of a wildfire on Monday, hundreds of whom headed to Yellowknife, where an evacuation centre has been set up in the city’s multiplex.

Organizer and Territorial Agri-food Association executive director Janet Dean said several events will now change to help accommodate the needs of evacuees.

A fish fry due to take place in Somba K’e Park on Friday with celebrity chef Jenni Lessard will now be held at or near the multiplex, Dean said, providing meals for 300 people. Lessard herself, a Métis chef based in Saskatchewan, has been an evacuee in the past, Dean added.



On Sunday, what was going to be an industry dinner – in which the visiting chefs cooked for each other – will now become a meal for evacuees prepared by those same chefs, plus “any local chef who wants to jump in and help.”

Spaces at events that aren’t fully booked will be given to evacuees for free where possible, Dean said. Most of the schedule goes ahead as planned.

Dean said more details of evacuation-related changes will soon be announced by the association. You can follow the NWT Culinary Festival website for updates.

“Food is universal,” Dean told Cabin Radio. “We have to be able to provide and support each other.”