Lawrence Sittichinli

Hot Food, Cold North: Lawrence Sittichinli is Cooking Up a Bright Future

Entrepreneurship and Northern culinary flair are in his blood, and that’s why arctic-inspired delicacies are now in his customers’ bellies. Hot food from the cold North has made its way to delight new taste buds, with Lawrence Sittichinli at the wheel of his Indigenous cuisine food truck. He wasn’t sure how to make his food business dreams come true at first, but he navigated his way to an onramp for a gourmet adventure in entrepreneurial life. 

Lawrence Sittichinli grew up in Tuktoyaktuk, a small Northern town of about 900 people, before moving to Inuvik to graduate. After high school, he moved onto the city where he is now in his first year of operating a food truck. He started cooking as a teenager and was motivated to cook by the memories of the delicious food he grew up eating. 

His great-grandparents and grandparents made bannock and Eskimo doughnuts and he wanted to share their tasty treats with others. The response from customers has been enthusiastic, with many noting that these are the best doughnuts they’ve had yet. He is sharing a taste of “home” away from home and from his experiences, he has advice for Indigenous youth considering leaving their home communities to pursue their dreams. 

Sittichinli is proud of how far he’s come, but that doesn’t mean he’s without regret.  “What I never got was education. Go get your education. Home will always be home. Home will always be your place to go back to. I never had that opportunity and I wish I did that in my younger years,” he advises.

Illustration by Shaikara David

These days, in business, he’s picking up the skills he needs as he goes, like accounting, so he can learn how to be an effective entrepreneur.  His food truck is called Indigenous North and the meals he cooks are what he learned to cook in his home community. They are also from Aklavik, where his other grandparents are from and where his grandmother had a cafe. His mom and aunties worked in the kitchen of that restaurant, making chili, fish chowder, homemade bread, bannock and doughnuts.  

Getting it started took a lot of legwork to apply for funding and get everything set up but now that it’s started, people love it and Sittichinli is happy. He has other entrepreneurs in his family other than his restaurateur grandmother. His great-grandfather on his father’s side had a heavy equipment business that is still running 70 years later in Tuktoyaktuk. Key to his success was his motto, “Precision and dedication, work hard and good things will come.” The longevity of the family business inspires him to focus on his business, too. 

For Sittichinli, the road to owning his business on wheels had some detours along the way. He had never cooked in a restaurant before, having worked as a heavy equipment operator for ten years and in the diamond mines. He took jobs that were out of his comfort zone to get where he needed to be, knowing it would pay off in the end. Making a change in careers and putting himself out there took mental strength, determination, talent, a positive attitude and an independent spirit.

“I always told myself, ‘just keep moving forward. Think of your goals a year ahead, thinking of that next goal you’re working towards,”” he explains. As he faced obstacles, he reminded himself that the discomfort was only temporary and better things were headed his way. To maintain his mental health, Sittichinli does yoga, meditates and tries to stay focused. Keeping his eyes on the prize and what he wants for himself in the future keeps him motivated. 

With entrepreneurship and Northern culinary flair in his blood, Lawrence Sittichinli is serving up arctic-inspired delicacies for his customers’ bellies. His perseverance made sure hot food from the cold North has made its way to delight new taste buds. Now at the wheel of his Indigenous cuisine food truck, he remembers how he wasn’t sure how to make his food business dreams come true.  He’s having fun on his gourmet adventure and encouraging youth to strike out on their own journeys, nourished by education (and maybe some of his bannock along the way!) 

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
    ,
    ,
  • Province/Territory
    Northwest Territories
  • Date
    March 20, 2023
  • PSI
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