Ginger Auger kneads bannock dough on the kitchen counter in her home in Fort McMurray.
Across from the Métis businesswoman is a photo of her parents. Covered in flour, Auger talks to the photo and prays to them because it brings her parents with her on a baking journey.
“I don’t even know if they’re proud of me,” Auger says.
“I guess they must be.”
Auger, founder and CEO of Ginger’s Bannock House, started selling her food as a catering company in 2016 “out of necessity.”
For years, after struggling with addiction, Auger sought treatment and began rehabilitation.
Not long after, she was pregnant.
With one child already at home, she used her growing family as a motivation to start a business and to tap into a skill her mother taught her: cooking.
“We didn’t have much growing up,” she said. “She made sure that we always had flour and everything to start anything, just not to be hungry.”
Now Auger’s baked goods are highly sought after by Fort McMurray residents.
Because of her business, Auger’s sons have never had to struggle with food insecurity the way she did.
But she wants her family to stay humble, so she takes her two sons to the Centre of Hope to feed others, or hand out leftover bannock.
“I make sure that they know that there is struggle out there and that things can change and we have to help others.”
Auger has aspirations to expand her business by renting out commercial spaces. But for now she’s looking to get a permanent location for her baking.
She has three part-time staff, all of whom are also recovering addicts.
Stuart McIntosh said when he heard there would be bannock doughnuts, he raced over to Heritage Village downtown.
“There’s nowhere else in Canada that has something as delicious,” McIntosh said. “It’s hard to explain.”
Jennifer Vardy usually shows up half an hour early to get a box of doughnuts.
“They’re homemade, they’re authentic, you’re supporting an Indigenous artist creator and … they’re just delicious,” Vardy said.
Katlyn Dykens, event co-ordinator at Heritage Village, said extra staff will come and help when Auger’s doughnuts are dropped off and there’s usually a line formed before Auger even arrives.
For anyone looking to make their own bannock, Auger does have a tip that came from her mother: “Don’t be rough. Don’t be mad, don’t be angry or you’ll see it in your bannock.”
Auger said you need to be in a good mood and that’s why she always takes the time to smudge before she starts cooking.
In the future, she would like to get a food truck so she can attend events and do open fire cooking.
She also wants to teach about culture and food, especially in the communities throughout Wood Buffalo.
“Let’s rise up. Especially as Indigenous people, especially people that are in trauma. Just rise up.”
“I do everything with bannock,” Auger said. “I would make pillows out of it if I could.”