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Bannock Canadian Comfort Food? Devouring Culture

by Zach Ruiter

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Wholesome. Delectable. Comforting. Colonialism. 


Inside the Hudson’s Bay store in Toronto is a restaurant called ‘Bannock Canadian Comfort Food’. The menu explains Bannock is “a round flatbread traditionally cooked on a griddle or stone; brought to Canada through Scottish explorers and traders, adapted by Indigenous people and settlers.


John Jacobs, of the Genaabaajing Serpent River First Nation has a different understanding; “what we have here is a new restaurant they’ve just put up on the South East Corner of Bay and Queen, which uses the name ‘Bannock’ which describes our bread, the Anishnaabe bread”


Before the Hudson’s Bay Company sponsored the 2010 Olympics on stolen Indigenous land, before it dispatched troops to quell the ‘Riel Rebellion’ by the Metis and the Cree in 1885, before it was established by the British crown in 1670, prior to the violent colonization of Turtle Island, bannock was a traditional food made from corn and other grains. 


According to a well respected chef and instructor, Andrew George of the Wet’suwet’en Nation, the voyageurs transported new ingredients across Canada, which were then adapted into the preparation of bannock. 


Bannock Canadian Comfort Food's owner, Oliver and Bonnacini' website claims


“Bannock is a flatbread originating in Scotland.  It came to North America via fur traders and explorers and was adopted by Aboriginal peoples that put their own traditional spin on the basic bread.  It was simple to make, easy to transport if needed, and a delightful indulgence.

Those concepts are what our Bannock is based around – ‘Canadian Comfort Food’.  Simple, wholesome, delectable and comforting foods inspired around Canada’s many diverse cultures.”


There is nothing comforting about it for John Jacobs, “I just don’t like how they’re using our culture to make money, did they ask for permission to use that word? For us we don’t like it when people use our culture and language to promote capitalism”. 


According to Bear Witness who along with DJ Shub and DJ NDN form the musical group A Tribe Called Red, “this crazy appropriation that is going on right now, the hipster headdress, the war-paint, the mukluks, the fringe, the when-did-this-become-okay-again that is going on… take a good look when you are walking around Toronto tomorrow, count how many mukluks, and fringed bags and jackets are around and count the many fake Indian prints– you can buy dream catcher t-shirts at Aritzia – its pretty ridiculous right now.”

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Zach Ruiter (Zach Ruiter)
Peterborough, ON
Member since December 2011

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