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Once a tough-as-nails prison guard, Port Coquitlam café owner wants to serve up compassion along with her coffee

Young café owner sources products from women or Indigenous-owned businesses and plans to support local charities

In a period of national division and uncertainty, can a cup of coffee restore the soul?

Jerrica Hackett thinks so.

The 30-year-old mom is just about to open a coffee shop in Port Coquitlam at a time when many businesses are struggling and COVID-19 has put national divisions into sharp focus.

But she hopes her message — as well as her coffee, pastries and paninis — will feed the “good wolf” inside of all of us.

Opening soon, The Good Wolf Cafe & Co. will dispense warm vibes as well as food and drink in a tiny store-front cafe in the busy GoWash at 1388 Dominion Ave. (off Lougheed Highway).

The business name comes from a Native American parable that inspired Hackett, and, though she is not Indigenous, she said she was motivated by the idea that people can either feed their loving, compassionate ‘good wolf’ or their angry, greedy ‘bad wolf.’

“I want to feed my good wolf, to treat people with kindness and to be that person all that time,” said Hackett.

There was a time when Hackett felt she was blind to the emotional needs of others while working as a corrections officer at the North Fraser Pretrial Centre in Port Coquitlam. 

She was just 20 when she started the job and, during the next several years, was often the lone guard among dozens of male prisoners, sitting at a desk in the common area while the men played cards or went out into a concrete 'yard' for exercise.

In that environment, there was always the potential for violence.

"I was known for my take downs and pepper spray," said Hackett, who told the Tri-City News she didn’t see the inmates as people.

“You fit into this hardline job and you have to fit into the hardline culture, and you hide that part of yourself and ignore it,” said Hackett.

That all changed when Hackett became a mother and took on the job of case manager after her maternity leave. 

Working individually with men to develop skills, education and find counselling and housing, she came to see them as people — and many were coping with mental health issues.

“I really started to learn what jail was — it’s a catch-all for the people we’ve failed in society.”

She got out of the corrections game to become the manager of a half-way house, but while an improvement on the prison system, Hackett came to believe she should be doing more with her life and helping others.

The idea of starting a business has long been her dream, and Hackett said she knew it was now or never.

After she found an affordable space, Hackett began to source local products that she hopes will feed her customers’ ‘good wolf.’ 

Her coffee is Spirit Bear Coffee from Port Coquitlam, an Indigenous business, and she sells Blume, a flavourful, scented superfood powder that can be mixed into a latté or served with organic milk substitutes for a health boost.

She is sourcing her pastries from a female-owned business that will provide her bread, croissants, cookies and cinnamon buns, while Port Moody’s Rocky Mountain Tisane will supply healthful soda drinks. Partial proceeds from some menu items and Good Wolf Cafe t-shirts will go to charities, including Big Sisters.

Eventually, Hackett hopes to be able to hire young entrepreneur-minded people and those with barriers to employment to share the experience of building a business.

For now though, it’s just Hackett and her mom minding the shop and serving up rich lattés to local customers to help them feed their good wolf.

Find out when she opens on Facebook and read about Hackett's journey on her blog.