Cafe Rista was born of the desire to nourish a micro-community in Edmonton’s Grovenor neighbourhood where residents and professionals could congregate for a great meal and quality coffee. Since 2010, Simon Taylor and his wife and business partner, Erica Sorrell have attracted a steady stream of regulars and new-comers to their pocket just off Stoney Plain Road.
In Spring 2018, Simon became a Tatawaw member.
How did you become involved in Tatawaw?
“I first knew of Hunter from his acting career. I was following him on Instagram and he posted that the Nook Café was the first organization to get their Tatawaw certification. I then connected with Naheyawin to find out how we could get involved. I figured if Hunter is part of this, it has to be interesting! He is a fantastic human being.”
Why did you decide to become a member?
“I felt that the Tatawaw mindset was representative of what the café should be. For the past three or four years, I have taken a strong interest in Indigenous and treaty issues in Canada. Tatawaw really resonated with me. The idea that I could take a smaller space and be part of building a larger inclusive community was an endeavor I was keen to take on.”
What are your goals as an organization?
“After meeting with Hunter and Lewis and my team, I wrote a mission statement for the café which was then approved by the Tatawaw group. I have the statement posted where people can’t miss it—above the sugar and cream counter. I’ve had customers compliment me after reading the mission, but I’ve also had disparaging comments. Suddenly, now the café is a place to open up that dialogue with those customers. Many times, after talking with them about the meaning behind the mission statement, I see a light go on, and they are starting to think differently—that is when work becomes really rewarding.”
Why is this important work?
“I read a lot of the text from Treaty 6, the commissioners’ reports, etc. The spirit of treaty was apparent in those recorded discussions—two communities prospering side by side—but most of what was discussed did not materialize and was not implemented. One side ended up dominating the other, and the way treaty has played out is abysmal and shameful and needs to be talked about so we can build a better future. There is enough room at the table for all of us and a better future for Treaty 6, and we need to be asking ‘how are we all going to work together so the next 100 years are better?’”
Where can Tatawaw conversations take us?
“Tatawaw is a reminder that we are all treaty people and that treaty is tied to community inclusiveness. Under treaty, we become ‘us.’ Doesn’t matter if you just moved to the country yesterday, living on this land makes you part of the treaty conversation. This needs to be in the forefront of our public dialogue.
Also, I think non-Indigenous needs to listen to what Indigenous have to say about what their experience has been. There needs to be a cathartic telling of stories. When we can all engender compassion, there is a greater desire to change things and make them better for coming generations.
I have attended pow-wows and I have seen the incredible power that Indigenous have to heal themselves. They carry on ceremony with incredible pride and unassailable confidence.”
How has Tatawaw impacted your life?
“Tatawaw has made treaty part of my everyday life. I think it’s actually made me a friendlier barista (laughs). When I have a hard customer, instead of getting frustrated, I try to relate to that person positively, because I feel I have strengthened my dedication to the idea of inclusive community.
I have also become more mouthy (laughs). I speak up, now, when I see intolerance around me. I believe the spirit of treaty has the ability to start in a café and expand into a neighbourhood, into a city, into a province, and into a country. Humans tend towards solutions and doing the right thing, and I’m confident we are going to get there.”