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Bannock to bring people together in Ottawa

Nunatsiaq | June 28, 2023

Categories: news

ARTS AND CULTURE  JUN 28, 2023 – 8:30 AM EDT

Bannock to bring people together in Ottawa

Public event to feature the traditional food at Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre

A free event celebrating bannock and the bonds it creates in Indigenous communities is scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre in Ottawa. Co-organizer Augatnaaq Eccles curated an accompanying art exhibition showcasing Inuit artworks like Annie Pootoogook’s “Mother and Child Cooking in the Tent” (2006, right). (Photo courtesy of Augatnaaq Eccles/Image copyright Dorset Fine Arts)

By Madalyn Howitt

People in Ottawa will get the chance to bust out the picnic blankets Thursday to celebrate all things bannock.

The lunchtime event, titled Bannock and Belonging, will take place at the Carleton Dominion-Chalmers Centre on Cooper Street from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free to attend and open to the public.

Organizers say it’s an opportunity to spend an afternoon making bannock, sharing recipes and celebrating community bonds through food.

“[Bannock] just reminds me of home,” said Augatnaaq Eccles, a curator, historian and artist who helped co-organize the event.

“It’s something that my mom would make almost every day with lunch when we’d be having traditional food. It was always a staple.”

When she moved from her home of Rankin Inlet to Ottawa for school, she found herself missing her mom’s homemade bannock, so she started cooking it for her roommates and friends.

Bannock is a dish shared by many Indigenous communities, said Danielle Printup, the Indigenous cultural engagement co-ordinator at Carleton University and an organizer of the event.

“Even though we’re distinctly different in our communities and we’re from different territories within it, still there [are] similarities across. I think sharing food is definitely one of them,” said Printup, who hails from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation.

There are many different ways to prepare and enjoy bannock, and attendees  will get a chance to try it in some sweet and savoury versions.

“[People] can try it with berry sauce on it and whipped cream and we’ll also have chili,” she said.

“[There’s] gonna be a couple ways of enjoying this phenomenal dish that is just so special for many reasons, right? It gets you closer to your family.”

Eccles herself likes her bannock deep fried in lard and dipped in the broth from cooking caribou meat or simply fried on the stovetop.

The event also accompanies a Carleton University Art Gallery exhibition curated by Eccles, titled Seasons of the Sun, spotlighting the work of Inuit artists and taking visitors through the seasons in Nunavut.

“It came from the idea of sort of wanting to create this space of home in Ottawa that I really longed for and missed when I was going to school here,” Eccles said.

One of the best-known artworks in the exhibition is Annie Pootoogook’s Mother and Child Cooking in the Tent (2006), which shows a mother cooking bannock over a Coleman stove in a canvas tent.

“I chose that piece because it reminded me of my own mom and how she’s made bannock for us. She really loved setting up her canvas tent in the summer seasons,” Eccles said.

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