Almost a year ago to the day, Kwantlen First Nations opened up the door on a new business in Fort Langley designed to showcase aboriginal arts and culture in a warm and inviting atmosphere that could be enjoyed by everyone.
The business is lelemâ€™ Arts & Culture Cafe. A year in, itâ€™s going gang-busters and still growing and evolving, according to Melissa Knights.
Knights is the retail lead on this cafe, as well as other commercial ventures operated by Kwantlenâ€™s business division â€“ Seyemâ€™ Qwantlen Business Group.
Lelemâ€™ is located in a Langley Township facility at Bedford Landing. And in addition to the cafe and side patio offering a review of the Bedford Channel, it boasts a shared amenities room that is used in part for Township programs and the rest of the time provides added cafe space.
In recent months, Knights explained, that amenities space has allowed lelemâ€™ to host a few special functions â€“ including music events.
Now, in addition to the First Nation-influenced menu, and the aboriginal art thatâ€™s showcased throughout the centre, lelemâ€™ is also spotlighting a variety of musical talents, she said.
Having incorporated music into its offerings, Knights insisted, thereâ€™s no going back.
This weekend is a prime example.
Join in the journey
Developing lelemâ€™ has been a journey, and under the direction of cafe manager Rocky Nenka, itâ€™s been a fulfilling and rewarding journey, Knights explained.
To help mark the cafeâ€™s one-year anniversary and the journey theyâ€™ve taken to get it to this point, lelemâ€™ is hosting a party of sorts this Friday, Nov. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m.
â€œPatrons will be getting a sneak peek of whatâ€™s in store once lelemâ€™ launches a menu that has a focus on fresh, flavourful cuisine, much of which is First Nations offerings,â€ she said.
As well as prizes and wine samples being offered, the event will feature more of the music that has helped make the cafe so popular with patrons.
The night will offer the jazz, funk, soul, and gospel DJ stylings â€“ with a First Nation influence â€“ of Kwantlen member Luke Dandurand of Luke Native.
Dandurand has been DJing for more than 15 years, playing in major cities across Canada and the U.S., and a few months ago he took up hosting a few Friday night music events at lelemâ€™ cafe.
Dandurand, whoâ€™s had his own radio show for the past decade â€“ Native Love with Luke Native â€“ is a proud member of Kwantlen First Nation and said heâ€™s excited to have the opportunity to play at Fridayâ€™s event in his own backyard.
â€œPart of Lukeâ€™s goal is to let people know about the success, pride, and passion of the Kwantlen communityâ€ as well as what heâ€™s personally accomplished through his music, she said.
Still relatively new, the cafe is being classified as a â€œdefiniteâ€ success, Knights said, noting it is attracting not only village residents, but visitors from throughout the Lower Mainland as well as tourists from around the globe.
The hope is to grow lelemâ€™ into an arts and culture hub in the heart of the village, and Dandurand believes itâ€™s already happening.
â€œItâ€™s a great place to come together, socialize, and enjoy music,â€ Dandurand said.
Lelemâ€™ is located at the intersection of Glover and Billy Brown Roads in Fort Langley.