It isn’t just about bread. Bimbo Canada, Canada’s largest bakery, is committed to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The company recently announced the creation of its Legacy Space, in partnership with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. The creation of a Legacy Space at Bimbo Canada is just one of many ongoing acts that demonstrate Bimbo Canada’s commitment towards addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 92 – Business and Reconciliation. The Legacy Space contains multiple educational resources and will allow access to additional materials through the partnership with the DWF, including the opportunity to participate in DWF’s Indigenous Cultural Competency Training program. Plus, Bimbo Canada partnered with Blake Angeconeb, an Anishinaabe artist, to create the Legacy Space mural dedicated to providing education and spreading awareness about Indigenous history and the journey of reconciliation. We asked Teresa Schoonings, senior director of sustainability at Bimbo Canada, to tell us more. —Noa Nichol
Hi Teresa! Please tell us a bit about yourself and Bimbo Canada to start.
I am the senior director for sustainability at Bimbo Canada. Bimbo Canada is the country’s largest and oldest bakery, serving Canadians for more than one hundred years, producing delicious, high-quality baked goods and snacks in our of our 16 bakeries across Canada. Canadians might not be familiar with the Bimbo Canada name; however, they have surely enjoyed one of our many brands for breakfast, lunch, or dinner like Dempsters, Stonemill or Villaggio.
Bimbo Canada recently announced the creation of its Legacy Space, in partnership with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF). Can you tell us more about this partnership, what it will entail and how it is just one of many ongoing acts that demonstrate Bimbo Canada’s commitment toward addressing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action 92 – Business and Reconciliation?
Of course! Bimbo Canada has partnered with the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund (DWF) for the next five-years to create a Legacy Space to celebrate and honour the unique cultures, rights, interests, perspectives and contributions of Indigenous Peoples. The contribution made to DWF for our Legacy Space will help to support the development of more Legacy Spaces, like Legacy Schools and events that bring Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities together. We are Moving Forward, Together, to build cultural understanding, connections and a path to reconciliACTION between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples through this partnership with the DWF to empower conversations about Residential Schools and Reconciliation. Through Bimbo Canada’s Legacy Space, we commit to:
- Being a DWF Ambassador dedicated to Reconciliation and consistent recociliACTIONs throughout the year; we already have another action planned for May 12. We are hosting a food and beverage processing industry event in our Legacy Space to open up a discussion about creating an inclusive work environment for Indigenous Canadians.
- Provide ongoing training and educational opportunities for our associates about the intention of the Legacy Space, the story of Chanie Wenjack, the residential school system and the true history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
- Establish and maintain an equitable workplace for Indigenous Peoples.
This launch includes a partnership with Anishinaabe artist Blake Angeconeb. Can you tell us about Blake’s mural?
The mural is about Reconciliation that intersects with a meeting place. It includes multiple walks of life, all moving forward in the same direction, to signify everyone learning and working toward the future. It also incorporates the spirits of Seven Teachings of love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility and truth, which are the guiding principles, cultural foundation, and moral stepping stones that respect all living things.
What other steps has Bimbo Canada taken to create a business where people from different origins, geographies and experiences can develop and contribute to the transformation of the company, the baking industry, and the communities that associates live and work in?
A: Bimbo Canada is very committed to Diversity, Equity and Belonging. In 2021, we launched a Diversity, Equity and Belonging Council and more than 400 associates have completed Diversity and Inclusion training. We’ve also had almost 500 of our people leaders complete Health Minds (mental health) training and launched a podcast series called ‘Courageous Conversations’ where our associates tackle difficult social issues through conversations. One of our Courageous Conversations was about residential schools in Canada and the direct impacts on our associates. We see our partnership with DWF and the creation of a Legacy Space to be a natural fit for our commitment to creating safe, healthy, diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces. We will be encouraging our associates to take the time to review the resource materials available within the Legacy Space at 2 international Drive and to also take advantage of the many resources available through DWF. We have multiple reconciliACTIONs planned for 2022 including the ability for our associates to participate in Indigenous Cultural Competency (ICCT) training with DWF, initiatives to recognize and educate our associates about important commemorative dates, as well as implementing ideas received from associates. The launch of a Legacy Space at Bimbo Canada is only the first step in a much bigger journey toward reconciliation.