Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bannock Lady won't be deterred

Van windows smashed, profanity spray-painted

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‘It’s terrible but I don’t want to blame anyone, I believe in youth and the good of other people. I love the North End. It has tons of people who are very active within the community.’ — Althea Guiboche

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‘It’s terrible but I don’t want to blame anyone, I believe in youth and the good of other people. I love the North End. It has tons of people who are very active within the community.’ — Althea Guiboche

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."

'It's worth it to let them (the homeless) know they're not forgotten or overlooked... I'm not going to give up.'

-- Althea Guiboche

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."

Guiboche is determined to continue serving hot meals to the homeless even if it means taking taxi cabs, or getting rides from friends.

"It's worth it to let them (the homeless) know they're not forgotten or overlooked," she said. "They need to know that they're cared for. I'm not going to give up."

Guiboche started baking bannock for the homeless after two men came up to her at a gas station asking for food in January of last year.

She offered them three pieces of bannock each, and two cans of soup she had originally planned to give to her friend. Guiboche said she felt the need to help.

"I bought flour and started to practise baking bannock," she said. "I started feeding it to the birds in my yard, and they never left. I had a huge Hydro bill from cooking in my kitchen and couldn't buy food for a while, but I needed to do something."

Now, people in the community are returning the favour.

Guiboche said friends and family have offered to provide rides so she can dole out her bannock. Organizations such as Aboriginal Youth Opportunities have already volunteered to raise money to buy her another vehicle.

"Althea inspires me daily because she creates community around what she's doing," said Ashlyn Haglund, a friend of Guiboche.

"There are a lot of dedicated people who have been helping her. Those donations and the time people give make it possible for her to carry on."

Ryan McMahon, who has only met Guiboche once at an Aboriginal Writers Event last year, is organizing a fundraiser for Guiboche.

The fundraiser will include an evening of performances and standup comedy.

"When someone does so much good it's important to step up if you can," said McMahon. "I can't imagine how they feel, I want to help."

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 26, 2013 0

History

Updated on Monday, August 26, 2013 at 7:54 AM CDT: The province, not the city health department, shut her down in the spring.

9:47 AM: Adds clarification to quote.

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