Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Let's bring back the bannock slap of love

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If you haven't seen any YouTube videos by the the 1491s, you should google them because you are missing out on a good laugh. The aboriginal comedy group has a lot of popular videos, but my favourite has to be Slapping Medicine Man.

In the video, a bunch of people go to see a medicine man for help with the troubles in their lives. But instead of giving them healing or words of wisdom, the medicine man slaps them soundly and tells them to "Knock it off!"

How's that for tough love.

Lots of people do need support to overcome personal obstacles. But there are a few people who could just use a good bannock slap now and then -- and I'm not just talking about aboriginal people.

Consider the bannock slap a humble gift from aboriginal people to all Canadians, like tobacco (not so good), maple syrup (really good), canoes, and, oh, all that land and resources.

I'm not saying we run around slapping each other hard, like in the Slapping Medicine Man video. The bannock slaps I propose are quite the opposite. They are the bannock slaps of days gone by that I grew up with.

Bannock slaps are not for children, and must be used wisely. They are in the parenting arsenal only during the teenage years.

In our family, a bannock slap was a gentle and humorous swat that mainly landed on your forehead, or a nearby limb or shoulder. It's kind of similar to those V-8 vegetable juice commercials where the person doesn't eat their veggies so they get a quick slap by a stranger on their forehead.

It's like saying "smarten up" with a soft swat.

The bannock slap is often used for emphasis, especially when teasing talk goes a little too far or you told people about an idea to do something stupid. Slaps were always gentle, since as any good bannock maker knows you must be tender with your bannock. Slapping bannock is done with love.

Sometimes I wonder if kids these days even know what a bannock slap is. It'd be a shame if political correctness has killed a most treasured way to communicate with our sometimes thick-headed teenagers. A bannock hug or setting bannock boundaries with them doesn't seem to work as quickly.

Bannock slaps were not limited to teens, either. They were handy when it came to adult siblings, best friends and spouses. It was a great way to get someone's attention when they were proposing to do something potentially dumb.

Thinking of trading your wife's car for a hunting truck? Think again, because a bannock slap is taking the express bus towards your forehead.

My auntie Jeanie is the queen of the bannock slap. She gave me tons of them while I was living with her in my teens. She didn't care if my friends were around either. Even they weren't immune from a bannock slap or two if they didn't watch themselves.

Once I became a young adult living on my own, I could have still used the wisdom of a few bannock slaps now and again.

One huge opportunity for a bannock slap was when I decided to drop out of university because my boyfriend was jealous. Silly boyfriend! No, silly me. Total bannock slap moment there.

And sadly, even today -- decades later -- I could still appreciate the usefulness of a bannock slap.

The other day I made the mistake of putting a cheque in my back pocket while walking to the ATM. Big surprise: somewhere along the way it slipped out.

Times like this call for a personal bannock slap. Who cares who is watching because this is going to make you feel much better. A bannock slap clears your mind so you can learn from your mistake and think of a better solution next time around.

Now go and use the gift of the bannock slap wisely.

Colleen Simard is a Winnipeg writer.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2012 A13

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