MediaWatch: Zach Ruiter, Toronto Media Co-Op & BannockGate!


Where’s Zach Ruiter? (LULZ)

Update: Zach Ruiter is no longer working with the TMC, but he did produce this video while with them.

An intrepid young reporter for the Toronto Media Co-Op (TMC) put together an interesting video titled Bannock Canadian Comfort Food? Devouring Culture. It’s a story about natives, anarchists, YouTube, political correctness and Scottish flat breads. And, just for some spice, I’ll throw-in some G20, and connections to the Quebec Student strikes.

Please, join me for an investigation into BannockGate…

The film was made by Zach Ruiter, a reporter for TMC who makes some of the most well put-together videos in the anarchist movement. If Ruiter was up-against Vancouver Media Co-Op’s Franklin Lopez in the Smashy Shashy Anarchist Film Festival® he’d give the Stimulator a run for his money.

Ruiter created the video I wrote about in Black Bloc Courthouse Theatre, I covered another one of his videos about an anarchist field trip from Toronto to the Quebec student strikes. Today I ran across his coverage of a protest against a “grab & go cafe” at the base of the Hudson Bay Company (The Bay) in Toronto’s business district.

The Bay is a common target for radicals who want to protest Canada’s colonialist past- equally, it is a common mistake. But, in this case, the mistake is compounded by another. And, it seems that TMC could take the time to slap their logo on this video, but they weren’t able to spend any time checking the facts.

The man in the video complains the Bannock Canadian Comfort Food restaurant stole the word ‘bannock’ from his indigenous culture and used it without their permission. The film was titled and cut to reflect this message- and spat scorn at the people who were so culturally insensitive.

The problem is that they weren’t. Let’s look at the etymology of the word ‘bannock’:

“thick flat cake,” O.E. bannuc “a bit, small piece,” from Gaelic bannach “a cake,” perhaps a loan from Latin. panicium, from panis “bread”

Next, have a look at what Wikipedia has to say about ‘bannock’:

“Its first cited use was in 1000, and its first cited definition in 1562. Its historic use was primarily in Ireland, Scotland and Northern England. The Scottish poet Robert Burns mentions the bannock in his Epistle to James Tennant of Glenconner, in reference to Alexander Tennant.”

There are two trains of thought on how the Bannock came to North America. First, it may have already existed before western settlers arrived. The second theory is that it was brought here by Europeans- One interesting story is that they were created by the Navajo who were incarcerated at Fort Sumner.

Regardless, they have one commonality- that is, the word used to describe them is rooted in the Gaelic language. So, basically, the claim that the restaurant owners should have asked indigenous people for permission to use the word ‘bannock’ is complete bullocks.

Besides, when was the last time anyone had to ask for permission to use a word? Do TMC now support harsher copyright laws?

This leads us to the most tragic part of the story (besides the fact TMC are hacks). The damage that colonization has done to indigenous cultures was deep- so deep that indigenous people often have large gaps in their understanding of their own cultures. Much of this information has been lost, or eradicated, during the tragedy of Canada’s residential schools.

The pain of this tragedy is still brewing inside Canada’s indigenous cultures. This incident was the perfect storm- anger over the abuses of the past, compounded with a poor understanding of past heritage. And, unfortunately, the people in the video weren’t blessed with a very inquisitive media outlet.

TMC have a history of broadcasting inflamatory bullshit- so, for many of my readers, this story won’t be much of a surprise to them. After all, it was TMC’s Megan Kinch who let Kevin Annett wave around rotting animal bones in front of her face without questioning his incredible story of a (now disproved) mass grave.

Ruiter has spent a lot of his time at TMC felting the unions- particularly the University of Toronto’s CUPE 3903. Besides being a haven for Black Bloc anarchists, the 3903 has also been deeply involved with the radicalization of people at the Six Nations reserve- as have the Canadian Auto Workers. Alex Hundert, who is currently in prison for the violence at the G20, was allied with the CAW in Brantford.

One has to ask a question here- what’s more important to the unions and their media outlets- to broadcast the truth, or to stir-up discontent? Stories like this, and the TMC’s Kevin Annett film, leave us with the impression that they care more about the latter.

People of Canada’s indigenous communities should be very careful when working with the anarchists. Ultimately, what they are trying to do is to incite anarchy. And, as far as my understanding goes, anarchy is not a part of traditional indigenous cultures- quite the opposite really.

In essence, what the anarcho-socialists are doing when they start meddling in indigenous affairs is a modern form of colonization…

Here’s the video…

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