Johl Ringuette

Chef and Owner
Nish Dish
Participates in 1 Session

Chef Johl Whiteduck Ringuette is Anishnawbe: Ojibwe and Algonquin First Nations. He was born in North Bay, Ontario and his grandmother is from Nippissing First Nations. He is Mink clan. Along with 5 siblings he was raised North of North Bay with the deep forests and lakes were the everyday playground. His father was a self-employed well-driller, a hunter and fisher. His mother was the caregiver and assisted with the business, on top of being excellent at cooking, baking and sewing and a gifted singer she became a dental assistant. Johl was raised on wild game, fishing and seasonal berry-picks and tapping local maple trees. It was the cooking over the outdoor fire pits at the families hunt camps that inspired and intrigued his child mind most.

Chef Johl is the proprietor of NishDish Marketeria and Catering, a First Nations owned and operated catering business specializing in Anishnawbe cuisine since 2005. NishDish is a small business built on serving and promoting traditional Anishnawbe food and Indigenous made products. In April 2017 NishDish expanded to a public venue and made GTA restaurant history as the most attended grand opening, which was documented by CBC’s Eli Glasner, where over 800 people came out to celebrate the tiny 21 seated new venue Nishdish!

As one of Tkaronto’s leading First Nations food sovereigntists, Chef Johl’s journey has led him to identifying, sourcing, relearning and reclaiming what the traditional Anishnawbe diet is. Given the staggering detrimental impacts of the oppression of the residential school legacy, and multigenerational trauma, the vision and journey of First Nations food sovereignty will also take many generations. Johl is equipped with the ineffable gift he received from his medicine teacher Mark Thompson, to ignite community healing by bringing back Anishnawbe food. Chef Johls’ unwavering commitment to his vision has broadened his work beyond the Marketeria & catering. He is highly in demand as a public speaker on topics including Indigenous food sovereignty, social entrepreneurship, motivational speaking, “ceremony and culture is the key”, artifacts and land repatriation, and has taught countless food demos and traditional food skills workshops.

His creation in 2017 of a curriculum for his own 20-week Ojibiikaan Indigenous Culinary Arts Program, a ceremonial in-depth land and food-based program, led to some of the first traditionally planted Three Sisters gardens in the GTA. The gifts to Chef Johl of centuries-old ancestral seeds started the ongoing development of an extensive Indigenous seed bank. The expansion of NishDish’s Indigenous food gardens around the city laid the groundwork for the birth of a brand new organization that Chef Johl founded in 2018, called Ojibiikaan Indigenous Cultural Network. He is the founding Board President of the first and only not-for-profit dedicated to Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the GTA, which now has a team of First Nations staff. The agency’s values are preservation of Indigenous language, Culture, and Food Sovereignty. Chef Johl’s vision is to inspire the return and/or collaboration of gifting ancestral lands back to the community for the purposes of growing Indigenous teaching gardens. The Three Sisters garden established in 2018 at Crawford Lake Sanctuary, a rebuilt former Huron Wendat village is an example of this vision coming to fruition.

In 2012 Chef Johl co-founded RUN, Red Urban Nation, a grassroots project that envisioned a focused community district in Toronto, in the area formerly comprising Ward 19. The project aims to reclaim the area encompassing Christie Pits Park, starting from the Davenport escarpment, where our traditional footpath was for thousands of years and what remains a green corridor, and down along the route of Garrison Creek (buried beneath Shaw St.), one of our historical travel routes to Lake Ontario. Due to an untimely and irreparable accident from a TTC bus striking him on his bike in 2013, Chef Johl was unable to continue his life’s work in any capacity, or his community endeavours until 2017 when his family, friends and community supported him to open NishDish’s storefront location. He is still in recovery from the injuries caused by this accident.

In December 2017, Chef Johl founded TIBA, the Toronto Indigenous Business Association, renewing the pursuit of an Anishnawbe district for Toronto and building a strong coalition of Indigenous social entrepreneurs and business owners. TIBA is operating on our unique Anishnawbe clan system that was adapted for present-day use by Elder Jim Dumont. TIBA is growing the vision of a whole Indigenous community, not only a business district. With such strong team leaders in community partnerships, keep on the lookout for T’karanto to become the most celebrated truly rich and diverse multicultured city in the Nation that acknowledges the original people and founders of Turtle island.

Along with the medicine garden in Christie Pits, and the container rooftop garden at NCFST, Chef Johl has launched the first Indigenous Harvesters and Artisans Market at the Bickford Centre in October 2018, with multiple partnerships, where he curated a series of murals painted by Indigenous artists. In celebration of bringing a larger Indigenous representation to the Christie Pits Park area. The next IHM is tentatively July 20th, 2019!

Chef Johl received the TABA, Aboriginal Businessman of the Year award in 2013. He is also an active member of the Toronto Food Policy Council, since Jan. 2018 and is currently spearheading a pilot project for Toronto’s emergency food growing & storage capacity.

Lastly, but not least there are two ongoing documentaries in the making about Nishdish’s food sovereignty work supported by the NFB and the second, on the Three Sisters traditional teaching of growing the community.

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Sessions in which Johl Ringuette participates

Wednesday May 15, 2019

1:00 PM
1:00 PM