The Story of Christopher Gladue and How Native Delights Came To Be
by Rondell Desjarlais
On December 4th, 2012, Christopher Ian Gladue set forth and officially registered ‘Native Delights Incorporated’ as a legally recognized business name. After spending some time working in the field of oil and gas extraction, he saved his money and pursued a dream that had seeded close to a decade earlier. At that time he had worked for a mobile concession called ‘Rez Boys’ that vended along the Alberta Pow-Wow circuit. Gladue thought that this particular type of food, that was specific to only Pow-Wow's, should actually be available everywhere and shared with everyone thus initiating the start of his aspiration of making this notion a reality. He began fabricating his very own custom-built concession vending cart from the frame up. Come April 4th, 2013, he was able to have his own concession cart pass inspection from the City of Edmonton and Alberta Health Services despite failing all previous attempts a multitude of times. He had persevered and actually fabricated the first certified 'Class C High-Risk Mobile Unit' recognized in the Province of Alberta. Not being one to ever give up in the face of adversity, Christopher then set out to Churchill Square in Edmonton, Alberta. With his long-time friend Curtis Cardinal, they proceeded to share what they described as ‘Aboriginal Cuisine’ to the general public for the first time in Alberta’s capital city. Christopher and Curtis had sold ‘Bannock Burgers’ and ‘Rez Dogs’ which were made from ‘Bannock’. 'Bannock' is a traditional Aboriginal bread that can be either roasted on a stick over an open fire, baked in the oven, or the more popular deep-fried variety (such as their case). With snow still on the ground and the men not too sure of what to expect, they soon found that they had completely sold out their very first day.
‘Native Delights’ proceeded to grow not only in popularity but also in size. As people from all cultures began to acquire a taste for the Bannock, ‘Native Delights’ began to be sought out to appear at a variety events. Not only were they in attendance at Pow-Wow’s but suddenly they were attending major events such as Big Valley Jamboree, Boonstock, K-Days, International Raceway, International Beerfest and Canada’s largest food festival, Taste of Edmonton. Even former City of Edmonton Mayor, Stephen Mandel, had attended Christopher’s residence in person to request ‘Native Delight’s’ attendance at a special event. In February 2014, ‘Native Delights’ proceeded to grow as the business was able to purchase a full-sized mobile concession trailer. In April 2014, Native Delights also opened a concession inside Osman Auction which operated two days per week. In February 2015, Christopher was able to realize his dream of opening his very first restaurant location on 118th Avenue in the city of Edmonton. The restaurant has seen much love and support by all and hosted its official ‘Grand Opening’ on Saturday, April 25th, 2015.
Christopher Gladue’s story is one that is inspiring and hopeful to say the least. He originally is from the Bigstone Cree Nation and spent his younger years living in Wabasca, Alberta where his father Bernard Gladue hails from. He went on to live in Slave Lake, Wetaskawin, Hobbema, and some time in the N.W.T. as his mother Jacqueline Masuzumi originates from Ft. Good Hope, N.W.T. Christopher had spent most of his years though in Edmonton and calls the city ‘home’. Christopher has had to face adversity as he overcame much abuse, homelessness at a young age, battled addiction, gangs, violence, imprisonment and a near-death experience that left him hospitalized for months. He had to re-learn how to walk and is forever scarred from burns on 30% of his body. Christopher obviously has turned his life around and strives to walk a path of sobriety, positivity, truth, and love. He attributes this to his traditional Indigenous spiritual teachings and beliefs as well as his two beautiful daughters Paige (9) and Mercedes (11).
Today Christopher has found himself working tirelessly as a successful entrepreneur, father, and soon to be husband. His fiancé, Rondell Desjarlais, is a retired Constable of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police whom he had met while she was posted in his childhood home of Wabasca. She had a successful and decorated career with over eight years of dedicated service while posted in Slave Lake, Desmarais, and Stony Plain, Alberta. She was born and raised in Rocky Mountain House, Alberta and much of her family still resides there including her mother Greta Desjarlais while her father Ron Desjarlais resides near Eckville, Alberta. Rondell is now a Certified Holistic Nutritionist and is studying to become a Plant-Based Chef. She has come to find herself working in a collaborative partnership to assist Christopher with the business operations of Native Delights Incorporated as Co-owner. Many of Christopher’s family and friends have also played a substantial role in the progress, development and support of his dream business to which he is grateful to no end.
Much love is received daily from the valued supporters of Native Delights. The success of the business is a direct result of those people as well as the committed team that has worked along side Christopher to make Native Delights what it is today. The most sincerest gratitude must also go to these people.
On April 30th, 2016 the Native Delights Restaurant & Cafe officially closed its doors after over a year of operations. Due to a multitude of reasons, the Native Delights owners have opted to focus their attention on Street Food Vending, Catering, their new business endeavour Pânsâwân and first and foremost: FAMILY. The couple recently welcomed the newest addition to their family, a healthy baby boy in March 2016.
Mr. & Mrs. Gladue were recently wed in July 2017 and are expecting another baby due December 2017. They are very pleased to announce that Native Delights is opening a NEW Kiosk inside the Canadian Athletic Club in Edmonton, Alberta on October 1st, 2017! Native Delights is still continuing to Cater special events as well the Mobile Concession saw another busy season during the Summer of 2017. The family thanks everyone for their continued support. Warmest regards! Âyihây!
WE THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING AN ABORIGINAL AND FAMILY OWNED SMALL BUSINESS. ÂYIHÂY!
Photo by: http://www.steinhauerphotography.ca