“The Bannock House” keeping Indigenous food, and traditions, alive in Regina’s North Central

Today, June 30th, is “A Day to Listen”, a day to learn and listen to Indigenous Peoples in our community.

The Bannock House was a community staple before closing its doors last year, but that hasn’t stopped owner Pamela Carpenter from feeding the community in her food truck.

Carpenter says the truck is filling a need in the “food desert” that is the North Central. She adds it important to provide the community with Indigenous food options.

“I think it’s actually necessary across Canada, especially with a lot of newcomers coming into Canada, we need to have a food identity here in Canada,” said Carpenter. “We do not have any type of fast, casual type of Indigenous cuisine type restaurants, not only in Regina, but across Canada. I think it’s time we start doing some home-cooked, good Indigenous cuisine.”

Carpenter says Bannock is so much more to Indigenous Peoples than food, it’s tradition.

“It’s a survival bread, it’s something you could’ve packed with you when you hunted and gathered, and it’s become a staple within homes and festivals, during powwows and ceremonies, said Carpenter. “It’s a number one food option at most powwows and ceremonies, and as I’m serving it, I’ve realized that fry bread is around the world, I have clients and customers from all over.”

Visitors to The Bannock House will notice signs and information on topics such as residential schools, and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).

Carpenter says she posts those signs because it’s important to have those conversations, with Bannock serving as the catalyst in many occasions.

“It is necessary to have these conversations, and they’re coming up a lot more because people know that we are an Indigenous food truck, we have signage on our truck that gives a little bit of information, speaks about it, puts out little tidbits of information to ignite those conversations.”

 With the shocking discovery of evidence of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Residential School on the Cowessess First Nation, and the discovery of 215 bodies at a former residential school site in Kamloops in May, Carpenter says there’s never been a more important time to listen and learn.

There were 139 residential schools in Canada between 1831 and 1996 considered in the TRC.

There are as many as 1,300 other schools that were privately run by provinces, or religious denominations where Indigenous children were sent that could also be considered.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission estimates that more than 4,100 children died while attending residential school.

A 40-60% mortality rate.

The stories shared on Wednesday may be distressing, especially to survivors of residential schools. The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line is available 24-hours a day for anyone experiencing pain or distress as a result of his or her residential school experience. Call 1-866-925-4419 for support.

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