Jocelyn Sweeting celebrates her Indigenous heritage and promotes diversity and inclusiveness at Ravens Brewing Company, the Abbotsford business she started in 2014 with her husband Paul that’s affiliated with DirectFood.store, a Digital Technology Supercluster project.
The busy mother and entrepreneur grew up in Toronto and Kitchener/Waterloo. Jocelyn and her younger sister spent their early years in foster homes before being adopted by a couple of Dutch descent. Her biological father is Jamaican and her biological mother is Ojibwe. Her adopted siblings are from Bangladesh.
“We grew up in a multicultural home with supportive parents who encouraged us to explore our roots,” Jocelyn says. “That’s how I came to better understand and appreciate my Indigenous background.”
Jocelyn moved west to study at Trinity Western University, met Paul and never looked back. When the duo started their business seven years ago, they were a small, family-operated brewery. Today, Jocelyn and Paul employ eight people in their tasting room, brewery and distillery. Last year, they produced 200,000 litres of beer – everything from a citrus pale ale to a dark stout.
This year, Jocelyn expects to increase production to 300,000 litres. Ravens Brewing is growing so fast they’re relocating this summer to the Stó:lō Nation on the east side of Abbotsford. They have also created an Indigenous Corporation and are partnering with Stó:lō Nation members to build a 12,000-square-foot facility, which will include a restaurant serving Indigenous recipes created and served by Indigenous community members.
Branching out into spirits
In addition to 20 varieties of beer, they have branched into distilling gin and vodka. They take pride in creating beverages that are sourced from local and regional ingredients, such as hops, fruits and herbs from Abbotsford and grains from Peace River.
You can find Ravens beer in most liquor stores in B.C. and many outlets in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick. Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland residents can also order their products online at directfood.store.
Learn more about the DirectFood.store project here.