Over the last year Althea Guiboche has run out of money and run out of baking supplies, but she has never stopped giving away free bread and soup to the city’s homeless every week.
The aboriginal single mother of seven was even forced by the province to become trained in food-handling if she wanted to continue, but now she has an official certificate and she cooks inside a commercial kitchen at the community center — all toward the goal of becoming more compassionate and giving.
“I was just raised like that,” she told Shaw TV Winnipeg.
Her project is called “Got Bannock”, named for the warm bread she delivers on a Main Street corner every week. For a time, she partnered with “Chili from the Heart”, started by another Winnipeg woman to bring hot chili to the homeless.
What motivates me is knowing that the needs of the homeless go far beyond housing. They have no homes, no respect, no support, and this societal problem will never be alleviated unless someone is willing to step up and make a difference. Some who may have housing are forced to use their food budget to pay the rent. Having suffered homelessness myself, with five of my seven children, I feel I have earned every right to speak up for those who have no voice, no one to help advocate for them, no one to provide love, sustenance and understanding.
What do you do for a living and why?
I am currently a stay-at-home single parent who comes from the same poverty as those who I speak for. I use every spare moment to help solicit donations such as toiletries, clothing, footwear, socks, shoes and food to support Got Bannock. I go out each Thursday with homemade lunches of bannock and soup, chili or pasta accompanied with water, juice, milk, coffee or tea, granola bars, and at least three pieces of fruit. I also bring the material donations to the street to give-away.
Which TED talk do you think everyone should watch?
I am excited at the chance to bring attention to the isues of homelessness in Winnipeg and beyond. I want to share my village idea with a global audience so that I can develop my talk and my professional capacity to reach other people whose ideas might work with mine to help spread the message about eradicating homelessness and poverty.
What is your idea worth spreading?
The traditional village my people once had was based upon respect, honour and love. We were self-governed and every member of the tribe was a contributor towards the survival of the village. We each held roles and responsibilities towards each other and the village, and our wealth was measured less in what we had than in what we shared with one another. I want to re-introduce this lifestyle back in North America and the global village. We need to adopt a more selfless life that caters to Mother Earth and all her children.
What’s your connection to Manitoba?
My family originates from Duck Bay, Manitoba, where they lived the Métis life, depending on the land and reaping the benefits of nature. We were taught to respect the land, the water, plants, animals, and other people. I use these teachings for guidance, when I do my Got Bannock work. I was born and raised in Manitoba, am one of five Manitoba Heroes and reside in the North End of Winnipeg.
It’s going to take a lot more than some lousy vandals to stop Althea Guiboche, a.k.a. the Got Bannock Lady.
The province tried to shut down Guiboche this spring for serving homemade soup and bannock to the homeless without the required permits.
Undaunted, the mother of seven acquired the proper paperwork and continued her philanthropic ways, giving away bannock and soup to the homeless from her van every Thursday afternoon.
She said she would regularly have 150 to 200 people lined up outside her van every week clamouring for her homemade bread.
“I feed (a wide range of people from) babies to old people of all different races,” she said. “I feed everybody.”
But on Sunday morning, Guiboche woke up to the sight of her vehicle vandalized. The van, parked outside her North End home, had its windows smashed and there was profanity spray-painted all over it.
“It’s terrible but I don’t want to blame anyone, I believe in youth and the good of other people,” the optimistic Guiboche said. “I love the North End. It has tons of people who are very active within the community.”