Wednesday December 23rd, 2020
We acknowledge that we are a white-owned and white-led hospitality company and that the story we tell of our ourselves, the story we have always told to students gathered in classrooms and media gathered at events, is a story that needs a new chapter.
As young white men, our path to today has been made possible by a social and economic framework that offers BIPOC individuals less opportunity that it does to us. The opportunities for education and employment, we have always told ourselves, were the result of hard work and perseverance. Now we see that it was not these qualities alone that brought us our success. A privileged framework paved the way for us. The bank meetings to get a business loan and returned phone calls with landlords and lawyers, the mundane machinations that are essential to building something new, are often hidden from the view of young BIPOC students, no less enterprising than ourselves. We realize that so much of what we once thought we earned, we were in fact given. We were given these privileges because we are white; doors of commerce that opened with us little more than asking; opportunities to study, travel, apprentice and collaborate that were always met with easy acceptance; and partnerships with stakeholders that required little to no vetting. Until recently, we thought we earned these moments. Now we realize, so many people of colour have been excluded from these moments, to our direct benefit.
Recent months have helped us learn about our privilege and we acknowledge the shape of history that has bent to make easier our path to today. We take ownership of the painful realization that, in many respects, the story we tell ourselves about our success, is fraught with inaccuracy. Where we once believed our sweat and tears, and good sense honed by years of experience, were the weight of our deservedness – it is now clear that, indeed, a finger was on the scale the whole time.
We acknowledge the urgent work that needs to be done to move away from the inequity baked into our society at large, and the Canadian hospitality industry more specifically. We have already started to make changes in our space, in our company, in our language, in our posture. We are learning, together, to be anti-racist. We are learning to hold ourselves accountable and we are already growing our woefully short rolodex of BIPOC staff and stakeholders. We must listen to our Black, Brown, Asian and Indigenous colleagues. We must share, we must collaborate, we must amplify, we must listen.
We acknowledge that the land where our restaurant stands is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples. We also acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 with the Mississaugas of the Credit.
Toronto is in the “Dish With One Spoon” Territory. The Dish With One Spoon is a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississauga and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. Subsequent Indigenous Nations and peoples, Europeans and all newcomers have been invited into this treaty in the spirit of peace, friendship and respect.
The “Dish” represents what is now southern Ontario, from the Great Lakes to Quebec and from Lake Simcoe into the United States. We all eat out of the Dish, all of us that share this territory, with only one spoon. That means we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the Dish is never empty, which includes taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with. Our restaurant continues to have a close relationship to the land that grows our food and we feel a strong affinity for the Indigenous traditions that include their own communities in the life of the land, as opposed to seeing the land as an aspect of nature that should be controlled or manipulated.
We acknowledge Indigenous peoples and their treaties with Canada. We want to take time to consider what has happened in the past and, more, consider what changes can be made going forward in order to further the reconciliation process. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of 2015 issued 94 Calls-To-Action for all Canadian individuals and institutions, of which land acknowledgements are one. See all 94 here.
Recognizing the enduring contribution and presence, not to mention resilience, of Indigenous peoples reminds us that we are accountable for all our relationships. We hope that this content can stand as a resource for our stakeholders, including guests, staff and suppliers. We aim to be a positive contributor to an ongoing dialogue of reconciliation between all the Nations in our borders.
RESOURCES + INSPIRATION