Meet the Artisans and Local Businesses who have contributed to the Holiday Cultural Box Event

Paper Feathers-Diana Siriwardana

Paper Feathers has a booth at the Bountiful Farmers Market in Edmonton (3696 97 St NW). They offer items such as Newspaper Bowls (many shapes, sizes and colours) crates, hamper baskets, garbage bins, place mats, coasters, different fruit baskets and pen holders. 

This unique product is made in Sri Lanka by Diana’s family owned business.

Diana Siriwardana has provided beautiful newspaper bowls to be part of the Celebration Box. Visit her at the Bountiful Market, open Friday, Saturday and Sunday Or drop her a note paper.feathers.yeg@gmail.com  .

Maram Vinegar .Ink- Najm Al-Tameeni

Najm grew up in Al Foa, located in south of Iraq. Najm moved to Syria as a refugee in 2007.  This is where Najm discovered the field of honey and bee products.

The Syrians believe that honey is useful in treating many diseases, fighting obesity and protecting people from Alzheimer’s disease. Honey is also used in the cosmetic field. Najm learned the value of using vinegar with honey, which is a very popular among Syrians.

Moving to Edmonton in 2015, Najm pursued his dream of developing and selling a honey vinegar product. He partnered with a beekeeper in Athabasca who has been making honey for over 30 years. This past year he received his license from Alberta Health and has started to produce Maram Vinegar.

To Najm, honey vinegar is a thank you to Canada. He spent his whole life escaping war and seeking a peaceful community to set roots. He found those roots in Edmonton. Najm is proud to provide a great life for his wife and children. He hopes that his kids don’t have to go through the conflicts he endured growing up. He hopes to show them that they can do anything they want.

Najm’s honey vinegar is a symbol to them and to others to follow your passions and give back to the community.

The Celebration Box has a bottle of Najm’s honey vinegar for you to try.  Use it in salad dressings or anywhere you would use apple cider vinegar. Check out his facebook page at www.facebook.com/pages/category/Health-Food-Store/MARAM-honey-and-vinegar-106306180704021/

BILD Photography- Miguel Jimenez

In 2019, Miguel’s journey brought him to Edmonton with his family. Eager to apply his talents in Canada, Miguel restarted BILD Photography. Miguel has been the official photographer with EdmontonEats since the spring of 2020.

He has gifted five of his pictures to create greeting cards as part of The Holiday Cultural Box Event.  We have called the series “Power of an Image”. Miguel, thank you so much.

When Miguel Jimenez speaks about his business, BILD Photography, he emphasizes the power of an image. An image can captivate the eye and attract attention. Whether it be for purposes of branding, showcasing a product or service, or to illicit a certain emotion, the right kind of image can go a long way.

He has gifted five of his pictures to create greeting cards as part of The Holiday Cultural Box Event.  We have called the series “Power of an Image”. Miguel, thank you so much.

Contact information MIGUEL ANGEL JIMENEZ MAYORQUIN jimenezmayorquin@gmail.com

Guuto Mothers Co-operative

Guuto Mothers Cooperative is an organization committed to help and support predominantly newcomer families with prior skills and work experience.  They engage mothers and women in a familiar and friendly work environment including tailoring, arts, cooking and henna.

They operate a small café and catering business located at 10412-118 Ave in Edmonton.  They can be contacted at guutocoops@gmail.com.

Guuto Mothers Co-operative have created a special Somalia Tea Blend to be included in the Holiday Boxes.  I have enjoyed this tea before and am looking forward to a lovely cup of tea on a cozy winter afternoon.

Pottery by Sabine


The Celebration Box will have a hand-shaped tea candle holder.  These beautiful individually unique candle holders are made in the shape of a heart.  Perfect for shedding light and joy over the holiday season.

Sabine has been a potter for many years.  Her immigration experience was long ago when her parents brought her as a toddler from Germany to Canada.  These tea candle holders are a welcome addition and we are happy to support a local potter.

Herbologie

Aga- chartered herbalist and founder. “As the founder of Herbologie and main curator of all products and recipes, it is important to me to share the intent & simplicity of botanicals as an easy addition to any lifestyle.”   

Herbologie is adding a jar of Black Nigella Seed to our Celebration Box. Harvested in Fayoum, Egypt, these seeds are fresh and taste like sweet toasted onions. They can be used in flatbreads, hummus, cheese, vegetables, particularly root vegetables. Visit https://www.herbologie.ca/shop/black-nigella-seed

Herbologie, a Canadian herb and spice company, focused on importing single-origin, and high quality spices directly from artisan farms around the world. In partnership with cooperatives, farmers and ethical suppliers, we strive to rethink the spice and herb trade, while creating novel ways to enhance culinary experiences. We aim to educate and empower the socially responsible consumer to advocate for better ingredients for our food, our well-being and our community. Herbologie. Provenance. Terroir. Transparency.

Culina to Go

Culina To Go is your grab n’ go takeaway store in the beautifully renovated Oliver Exchange Building, nestled between Iconoclast Coffee and Brio Bakery. They are located on the southeast corner of 121 street and 102ave, just south of Paul Kane Park.

They offer hot, cold and frozen individual and family-sized meals to enjoy on the go! Our focus is fast & fresh comfort food with an emphasis on local ingredients from local purveyors.

Culina To Go is providing house-made Almond Rocher to our Celebration Box. Our Libyan hosts offered chocolate as a welcome when guests arrived at our first event last year. We thought it would be great to include chocolate!

Belmont Sobeys

Thank you to Belmont Sobey’s who have support EdmontonEats since we started one year ago. 

Jerry MacLachalan, Manager and Owner of the Belmont Sobeys is generous with his time and support of community events in NE Edmonton.  Famous with the children for introducing Belly the Beaver to our community event. Respected by community members for his constant interest and support of events that make our community a great place to live.

Belmont Sobeys donated a number of ingredients for preparing the recipe kits.

Belmont Sobeys is a great place to buy ingredients for all your holiday cooking.  Check them out. https://www.sobeys.com/stores/sobeys-belmont/

Giant Tiger Clareview

Pierre Marchant, Manager at Giant Tiger has been a supporter of all the events of EdmontonEats. Pierre is on the advisory team and provides advice and direction to the development of our social enterprise.

Giant Tiger donates generously to community events in our NE Communities.  A great example of a retailer committed to the community.

Thanks Pierre for all you do for our community and EdmontonEats.   https://www.gianttiger.com/

Afaf Bayoud

Welcome back! Afaf was the very first cultural host with EdmontonEats in October 2019 for the Taste of Libya held at Ernest’s Dining Room NAIT. It was an amazing evening.  A time for guests to try Libyan food and an opportunity for Afaf and her husband Jehad to share their culture.  Afaf is happy to be back for the Holiday Cultural Box Event.

She will be sharing ingredients, a spice blend and her recipe for pasta with chicken. It is sure to be a taste delight.

Food is a passion of Afaf. She got her first lessons from her mother.  “She was so patient”, chuckles Afaf.  Afaf loves food to be very tasty and to have a beautiful presentation.  She hopes someday to be able to fuse together the Libyan and Canadian cuisines.

” I became involved with EdmontonEats so that I could be more connected with my neighbourhood and get involved in the community.  I am pleased to have this opportunity to share the culture and foods of my native country with other Canadians, so we can all become more enriched.”  It is so nice to have her daughter Jwearia join in this event.

Maria Mondol (Baidya)

The Holiday Cultural Box Event is the first event Maria has been a cultural host with EdmontonEats. The recipe kit she will be providing is a Curry Bengali Recipe. Maria hosted me for a lunch with her two lovely daughters with this amazing dish. I can still recall the lovely warmth and balance of the tastes.

Maria remembers the exact day she arrived in Edmonton, it was May 27, 2010.  Maria started her English language learning journey and training for employment.  She connected with local schools and became part of the community garden in her neighbour.  She loves to cook and share her cultural foods with others.

Maria comes from the Gopalgonj District in Bangladesh.  This is the district where the current Prime Minister is from.  She grew up in the Koligram Village of 10,000 people.  Maria speaks Bengali and English and understands Hindi. 

The Gopalgonj District is re-known for farming 200 varieties of fish on their fish farms. The climate is warm and it is easy to get your food fresh everyday. Marie’s mother still lives in the village and she takes her fishing rod to the fish farm and catches her dinner on a daily basis.  Fish and rice are the favoured foods in her village.

Visiting with neighbours and family at their homes to eat and talk is the way of life.  






Entessar Alkrad

The Holiday Cultural Box Event is the first time Entessar has been a cultural host with EdmontonEats.  Welcome! Welcome! She will be putting together a recipe kit for her mother’s falafel recipe. Falafels made by Entessar are in high demand by her neighbors and family.

Entessar is from Daraa, Syria, a small city of 150,000 people. She moved to Jordan during the civil war and then to Canada in 2016.

To Entessar, Daraa is a special place because of the people and sense of community. Neighbourhoods are welcoming and people are connected. Everyone is considered family, no matter where they are from or what they do. It is a true, open community. Entessar recalls, growing up, no one would lock their doors.

Syrian homecooked dinners were community events for Entessar growing up. It was not uncommon that there would be 10-15 people from their neighbourhood dining together at a time.

She hopes her children can grow up to have opportunities to do what they love and support each other. This includes passing on traditional Syrian food so her mother’s legacy can live on for generations to come.

Entessar, Carley and Doona – three great friends.

Doona Arkeef

Doona Arkeef

EdmontonEats is pleased to welcome Doona as cultural host to her first event with us. Doona is preparing a recipe kit for her sweet and delicious Hariseh Cake. We can hardly wait to taste this Syrian treat!

Doona came to Canada in 2016 via Jordon where her husband and their three children moved at the start of the civil war in Syria. Doona is originally from Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, surviving countless conflicts, kingdoms and environmental events. The city was the largest in Syria, until the civil war, where the Battle of Aleppo had significant impact on the city’s inhabitants.

Cindy Lazarenko, Chef and Doona Arkeef, Cultural Host

For Doona, sharing food is sharing your life. It tells your story. It’s deeply personal. It’s from the heart. When someone cooks for you or your family, it is an expression of love. That’s what makes traditional Syrian food so special to Doona.

Video program for Flavours of Somalia

Thank you for joining us for Edmonton Eats presents: Flavours of Somalia social distancing dinner.

Filmed in March before quarantine, this short video shows our host families working with the NAIT Culinary Students exchanging information on Somalian Culture and Cuisine.   It was a day full of energy and fun for all involved.

Your dinner and delivery have been prepared today by the host families and partners in full PPE.

Preparing Flavours of Somalia

To celebrate Somali food and culture, host Omar Farah has recorded a message and created an original poem.

Your box this evening includes:

  • Digaag Duban (Spicy Chicken Dish) or Maraq Qudaar (Vegetable Stew for the vegetarian substitution)
  • Sambuus (Vegetable)
  • Bariss (Rice)
  • Salad
  • Somali speciality hot sauce and salad dressing
  • Coconut Dessert
  • Cardamom Cake

**Please be aware some dishes have been made with red onions from Canadian farms and therefore are safe to eat**

Hosts of the Flavours of Somalia

Hosts embody the hospitality of Somali culture

Jamila Osman, Mulki Ali, Nadifa Omar and Maryam Hussein reflect the experiences of many of the Somali people who have made Edmonton their home over the past 35 years. When they heard that EdmontonEats was being created as a way to share cultures, food and assist to provide an economic opportunity, they wanted to help each other and be a part of it. They believe it is important that people learn about each other’s culture and that this knowledge makes a difference in our communities.  

When it comes to sharing food and stories, the Somali people are most generous.  Jamila, Mulki, Nadifa and Maryam say that Somalia is a country where welcoming people to their homes is a way of life, and they wish to share this hospitality through Flavours of Edmonton.

Maryam Hussein wanted to become involved with EdmontonEats as it has a very local connection to her community of Bannerman.  Her four sons and daughter have attended the local elementary school. She works fulltime in a local daycare. Maryam was born and raised in Somalia.

She moved to Canada as a refugee.  She sees a future where her children will succeed in school, go to college or university, take care of their family and embrace their culture. Maryam feels taking part in EdmontonEats is important in celebrating and showing pride in her culture while building strong community connections. 

Mulki Ali volunteered to pull the ladies together for this event as she knew they would love to share their culture and food as well as benefit from the shared income. She has been a proud Edmontonian for more than 25 years. Born and raised in Somalia, Mulki was entering her adult life when civil war broke out in 1991. Fearing for her safety, Mulki moved to Italy to attend post-secondary school. She met her future husband there, and they moved to Edmonton for his work. When Mulki arrived here she did not speak English and her education did not transfer. However, her community values and desire to start a family gave her determination. Mulki attended Alberta College, learned English and upgraded at MacEwan University. Her family moved to the Edmonton neighbourhood of Dickensfield, where she became active in the community and built valuable relationships. Today, Mulki and her husband have four children. Mulki now works as a Cultural Broker with Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op, where she works with immigrant families, helping them overcome cultural barriers and contribute to society. 

Nadifa Omar is described by her friend Mulki as having an amazing spirit and zest for life.  Nadifa loves cooking for people and you are always welcome at her home with food and generosity.  Nadifa has a deep knowledge of spices and oils which she uses to help her community with cooking and treating ailments. She is a natural mentor and gave gentle and supportive assistance to the NAIT Culinary Students as they implemented the recipes chosen for the Flavours of Somalia.  

Jamila Osman is a proud grandmother and mother who come to Canada in the 1990s. She raised her children in Edmonton.  They are now adults working and living in Edmonton with their families. Jamila herself speaks and reads multiple languages including Italian, English, Somalian and Arabic.  She has been a leader and connector within the Edmonton Somali community.

What the heck is a social enterprise?

Byline: By Calan Hobbs

EdmontonEats is piloting a social enterprise rather than a charitable society model. So what’s the difference?

Well, a social enterprise blends the best of the charitable and private enterprise business models by using market-oriented approaches to solve social problems, according to Brooks Hanewich, EdmontonEats board member and co-founder of MatchWork, who has extensive experience working with social enterprises in Vancouver and Edmonton.

“A social enterprise can provide a way for people to share their talents and expertise, and creates avenues to address the systemic barriers they face when trying to participate in the economy,” Hanewich explained.

EdmontonEats creates sustainable economic opportunities for new Canadians who have valuable skills to share. It provides them with work experience, payment and networking opportunities, while also building community connections between the hosts and attendees.  

The private sector provides a business model of successful, long-term wealth accumulation. But, as Hanewich pointed out, wealth is distributed in a top-heavy way which doesn’t address wealth inequalities nor overall socio-economic problems.

EdmontonEats founder, Maureen Murphy-Black, chose the social enterprise model with a goal of making EdmontonEats self-sufficient.

“The revenue sharing model allows participants to earn an income, while creating a sustainable organization for the future,” Murphy-Black said.

A recent Statistics Canada survey showed nearly 50% of immigrants say finding an adequate job is their biggest struggle, ahead of learning the language at 26% and adapting to the culture at 13%. Rates of low income and unemployment continue to be high among immigrants, relative to the general population. 

Each EdmontonEats event is tailored to the strengths and interests of the host families. The first step is understanding where they come from, what they want to do and what their talents are. They are empowered to apply their skills and cultural background, and take ownership of creating the event, working with partners in the business sector and receiving income for their work.

EdmontonEats provides a dignified means of wealth transfer. Diners pay for a meal, as they do in restaurants.The revenue generated cycles back into the social enterprise, to the families and to the local community.

And the advantage of a dining event goes beyond creating employment and wealth to fighting social isolation and building a sense of community. People gather for an experience. Everyone involved — from the diners, partners and the families themselves — connects with one another. Communities unite. People are exposed to different cultures and, ultimately, new relationships are built.EdmontonEats salutes some other social enterprises that are helping to make our community a better place: Food4Good, Leftovers Food Rescue, and Hallway Cafe.

Rave reviews from past attendees

Rave reviews from past attendees:

EdmontonEats event-goers get to travel with their taste buds! Some comments from attendees at A Taste of Libya last fall:

“Almost like taking a mini-vacation!”

“A lovely evening out to enjoy culture, community and fine food.”

“Not only did I get to sample many new tasty dishes, I also learned a lot about Libyan culture and traditions.”

“I loved being able to meet new people while sharing food together.”

 93 per cent of attendees said they would recommend EdmontonEats events to friends.Please join us on our next adventure—Flavours of Somalia—at NAIT’s Ernest’s Dining Room on March 21. Tickets $75 on CanadaHelps and Eventbrite.

The Elabri Family Story – From Libya to Canada

The Elabri Family Story – From Libya to Canada

When Afaf and Jehad Elabri decided to host EdmontonEats’ first event “A Taste of Libya”, it wasn’t just because of their passion for food. They saw it as an opportunity to share their culture with others and build connections within their community, through an authentic culinary experience. Having recently immigrated to Canada, “A Taste of Libya” was an opportunity to give back to their new home and say “thank you” to those who welcomed them.

Jehad had a background in the oil and gas industry. Afaf was the leader at home, raising their children and maintaining the household. Jehad was fluent in English, while Afaf was not. Their children learned English through school.

The Elabri family’s journey was not always the smoothest. Jehad, Afaf and their four children moved to Canada in 2014. They faced challenges finding adequate housing. Many options were in dilapidated homes in neighbourhoods where they did not feel safe. Jehad faced challenges finding employment in his field.

The Elabri family’s journey was not always the smoothest. Jehad, Afaf and their four children moved to Canada in 2014. They faced challenges finding adequate housing. Many options were in dilapidated homes in neighbourhoods where they did not feel safe. Jehad faced challenges finding employment in his field. They moved to a few cities until they found themselves in Edmonton. After several difficult months, the Elabris were met with acts of kindness and a community that welcomed them with open arms.

Their new life in Edmonton began at a motel. Initially the room rate was too high and they didn’t know how long they would be able to afford it. Jehad reached out to the hotel manager. The manager shared a similar immigration journey and he empathized with the Elabris. Their room rate was reduced so they could afford to stay while Jehad looked for work. This small act of kindness was a turning point for the family.

The next act of kindness came from a helpful consultant with a local property management company. She listened to their challenges and worked tirelessly to find the family of six the perfect home in the perfect community.

This community was Bannerman in northeast Edmonton. Almost immediately after moving in, they met a neighbour named Mary. Mary was welcoming, helpful and curious. Other neighbours were friendly to the Elabris, saying hello when they walked by and offering assistance as they were getting settled. As their children started school, the school staff built a close relationship with the family.

While Jehad settled into a new job in retail and the kids attended school, Afaf began to learn English. She built strong friendships with Mary and her other neighbours, where she shared her passion for cooking. Afaf believes food is a universal language and cooking can bring people together. Her new friends loved her snacks. Afaf quickly became known for her talent as a cook. 

Afaf learned about EdmontonEats through Mary. Her decision to participate was based on her experiences and beliefs. As many people didn’t know much about Libya, Afaf viewed EdmontonEats as an opportunity to share her culture with others. 

In Libya, making a thoughtful, elaborate meal for guests of honour is an act of great respect. It was important for Jehad and Afaf to honour the people who would come to “A Taste of Libya”. This inspired Afaf to create an authentic menu, something one wouldn’t find in North American cooking.

Jehad provided diners with a presentation on Libyan culture and their inspiration for the food they offered. He called it his “little picture of home.” Together, the Elabris put together an experience that was truly “A Taste of Libya.” 

Jehad and Afaf’s most valuable takeaway from the event was the social aspect. They were able to mingle with other diners and meet new friends. They found common ground over the food. Many people commented on how their traditions were similar or different. Others asked questions about Libya, which Jehad and Afaf were thrilled to answer. The comments on the food were overwhelmingly positive. To the Elabris, “A Taste of Libya” was a resounding success.

Although their journey to Canada was not the smoothest, the Elabris found a home in Edmonton where their family can thrive and they can share their passion. “A Taste of Libya” was Afaf and Jehad’s way to tell their story and give back to the community they now call home.