I started Got Bannock? because people were continually asking me for food or money to buy something to eat. It seemed they would approach me whenever I would be gassing up, or waiting on a light at an intersection, and I felt bad because I never had anything with which to help out.
One day I decided I was going to become a pro at making baked bannock. I could whip out fried bannock no problem, but always had an intimidation towards making baked bannock, like I would be a failure if I couldn’t make it.
Well you’ll never get good at something if you never try. So I tried and tried and tried. Pretty soon I had so much bannock I was feeding the birds. The buggers were getting so full they wouldn’t even leave the yard, they’d just find a branch and nestle down.
One day I had made a batch for my buddy, and was giving her some soup makings. We were gassing up my car when two men approached me, very respectfully and cautiously so as not to alarm me. They asked me for food or money to buy some food. They looked so cold, totally under-dressed for the weather. They even lacked headgear and it was a very cold January night. I told them, “I’m putting what I have in my tank.”
Then I remembered the bannock. I gave them each two pieces and a can of soup and then I said, “I wish it was warm,” but they assured me they would find somewhere to open it and heat it. They thanked me and went on their way, chewing my warm bannock.
I attended the Jan. 28 Idle No More rally at the Leg. I wandered all over that rally, taking pictures. I was up on the stairs looking out on the crowd when I noticed how the smoke from the sage looked like tendrils of grey hair weaving throughout the crowd. It looked so beautiful. Then as I tuned into what the person at the mic was saying, I couldn’t hear over the hum of the people talking. At first I was annoyed, and then I listened and thought, “this is how my people must have sounded centuries ago.”
I wandered up the stairs to the back, trying to get a picture of Buffy Sainte-Marie while she was singing. I couldn’t get close enough, so I hung around the back taking pictures and listening to her song. Wouldn’t you know I came face to face with her!
When the round dance began, I stayed on the stairs watching. At one point I yawned, and while squinting, the orange street lights surrounding the legislature looked like flames.
It hit me that I had to, no, NEEDED to do something to help, so I decided I was going to make a giant pot of chili and lots of bannock and go feed people on the streets. I made 19 servings and gave them out on one of the coldest days in January. I feed the cold people on the streets. Homeless or not, everyone appreciates it. It makes them feel good, it makes me feel good. If I had the resources I’d do this all day every day.
I feed those people
who are wandering around
the cold, the hungry
the homeless sitting on the ground
the down on their luck
the ones asking for a buck
the ones who need someone
to show them some love
to show that they care
These are someone’s loved ones too
everyone has a story
everyone has a past
whether good or bad
I don’t look at that
it serves as a reminder
we are all connected
we all belong
Although I am in the poverty cycle myself, I still do all I can to help out. There is always someone worse off out there. It makes you appreciate what you do have, makes you feel part of the world, and makes you feel absolutely ecstatically happy!
Want to help? Visit my Facebook page: Got Bannock?
Donations of red solo cups, plastic cutlery, and tin foil are needed for food service.
I can work with any type of food donation. You can reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Althea Guiboche is a single mother, author, poet, activist and humanitarian. She lives in the North End.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 10, 2013 A6