10 Things You Didn’t Know About… Obakki Foundation founder Treana Peake

Like her intense morning routine.

Like her intense morning routine

Treana Peake started fundraising at a very young age, when she would run garage sales and the like in the small rural town of Hanna, Alberta. Eventually she started organizing concerts featuring her future husband, Ryan Peake, who would later help form the band Nickelback (maybe youve heard of it).

But when Peake launched the fashion label Obakki in 2009, she also started the Obakki Foundation, which focuses on bringing clean water, education, sustainable agriculture and medical care to parts of Africa, in particular South Sudan, Uganda and Cameroon.

Since 2009, the foundation has provided close to 3,000 water wells and supported more than 12 schools.

Here are some things you (probably) don’t know about Peake.

1. What is your morning routine?

5 a.m. I wake up early each day so that I can spend time connecting with our field teams in Africa. These are the people who are managing all of our philanthropic projects on the ground over there, so its important to me that we can speak every day.

6 a.m. Because I start my day quite early, I try and carve out the time to do one personal project for myself each morning. Whether this is doing the prep for a meal that I will cook for my family later that day, or doing something creative like teaching myself how to make candles or soap, I always feel like I can accomplish a lot during the quiet hours of the morning. 

7:30 a.m. Because of the work we are doing with the Obakki Foundation, I am often travelling, but whenever I am at home in Vancouver, I make a point of driving my two teenage children to school every morning before I go into work. 

2. How did you become interested in design and fashion?

Ive always loved that fashion can act as a vehicle to tell a story or a design-based narrative. Being a creative person and heavily inspired by my travels, I knew that fashion could provide the platform for me to communicate the very important message of social impact that is represented through the Obakki brand.

3. When did you get your start in philanthropy?

My passion for philanthropy came from something that happened while I was growing up. For most of my childhood, it was just my mom and I, and it was a very humble upbringing, but every Christmas a white envelope of money would slide under the door to help our family get through the year. We never knew who did it, and there was no return address. To this day, I still havent found out who it was, but part of me wishes that they could see how their selfless act of kindness inspired me so profoundly.

4. How did The Obakki Foundation get started?

After I had started the fashion side of Obakki, I realized that the Obakki Foundation could be the umbrella under which all of my philanthropic passions could live. The fashion sales cover all of the administrative costs for the Obakki Foundation so that 100 percent of the profits/donations can go directly to our projects in Africa.

5. Whats your favourite spot in B.C.?

There are so many beautiful places in B.C., but these days I love finding a secluded spot to camp along the side of the Squamish River.

6. Where did you go on your last trip?

My last trip was to Uganda. The bulk of our projects for the Foundation are currently based in Bidi Bidi, Uganda (the worlds largest refugee resettlement area), so I am there every few months to oversee our work on the ground. 

7. Whats your most memorable podcast, film or book?

My favourite book recently has been It’s What I Do by Lynsey Addario. She is a photojournalist who documents active war zones and human rights issues. Although its a different industry than mine, it resonated with me because she speaks about the mental process that is involved with going back and forth between these same regions in the world where there is extreme conflict, and the mental processing that needs to occur in order to remain effective in that line of work. 

8. Favourite restaurant/bar?

Because I travel so much, when I am home in Vancouver I really love cooking at home with my family and having people over to share in that sense of community around our table. I love to cook, and I’m always picking up new influences and ideas from the different places that I travel to.

9. Favourite hobby?

Ive recently been learning the art of traditional indigo dyeing. As part of the work that were doing with the Obakki Foundation we have recently opened a tailor shop and textile training facility in the heart of the refugee resettlement area in Uganda. To provide economic opportunities for the women there, weve started teaching them natural dyeing techniques, and Ive personally fallen in love with the process as well.

10. Favourite quote?

Its not really a quote, but I love the translation of the Nigerian pidgin slang word apiata. It means a love so strong its like a lion within you. Ive been working with the same orphanage in Cameroon for the past 20 years, and one of the boys that Ive watched grow up there recently taught me this phrase.