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Cooks with Stones

Pathways into Tourism and Hospitality for Indigenous Youth

Cooks with Stones is an award-winning program that supports Indigenous Youth and their communities to build pathways to meaningful employment.

The program’s development was driven by the Stoney community, and is supported by partnerships with Further Education Society of Alberta (FESA), Pursuit Banff/Jasper Collection, Indigenous Chefs, Stoney Consultation, Stoney Nation Job Resource Centre, and many others.

What was created was a holistic program combining an Indigenous traditional knowledge and skills camp, workplace
essential skills training, culinary training, mentorship, job placements and an opportunity for full-time work with an employer partner.


Cooks with Stones ran for the first time in 2021 in our Going the Distance Project, supporting Indigenous Youth to build confidence and skills for the tourism industry in the Rockies. It continues as part of the Pathways project and is growing and inspiring across Canada and internationally.

I like FESA’s approach of ‘Starting where you are’. We were able to put our resources
together with the community and our partners. We were able to let our partners know this is what the community wants and help them where they are. It’s not following a book, it’s helping us write that book.

— Wyanne Smallboy-Wesley, Going the Distance and Pathways

Regional Community Facilitator

Canada Day London 2023


Cooks with Stones was invited by the High Commission of Canada in the UK, in partnership with Rainmaker Global Market Access, to showcase Indigenous cuisine at Canada Day London, June 29th, 2023.


This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for students from the program to network and share their culture and culinary skills. They curated menus for the Canada Day Reception at Canada House and a food truck at the Canada Day Festival in Trafalgar Square under the mentorship of Chef Dean Herkert, owner of Toba Centric, operating as the Bistro on Notre Dame.


In the Cooks with Stones program, I remember fond memories of working with my peers in creating a Indigenous Cuisine dish while in my traditional territory of the Eyahhey-Rocky Mountains and having fun while cooking outside under the sun.

The big impact that I feel was most appealing was learning about my Indigenous literacy skills that I already had which I can take with me to begin work experience.

— Cooks with Stones participant and current line cook with Pursuit Banff/Jasper

Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award - 2022 Top Award Winner 


Cooks with Stones was the top award winner of ABC Life Literacy Canada's, Canada Life Literacy Innovation Award 2022. The Award honours innovation in the creation and delivery of adult literacy programs delivered by a community organization in Canada. The Award is for adult-focused literacy programs that make a positive contribution to the lives of the participants as well as the community and could serve as a model for other organizations to adapt.

Thank you to all funders, sponsors and partners that make this program possible!

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