“Blackbird Bakery is one in a long line of black owned businesses that are thriving in Edmonton,” said Rachel Givens, who has been a baker for nearly 30 years.
“And I think that speaks to the fact that there are a lot of people that feel like they are in a position of empowerment, that feel that they have a voice.”
Givins opened her first bakery in 1988, and said it’s the same feeling that has been present for the last three decades.
“I feel that the community here is supportive and I feel like we have a very, very large community that is supporting our business,” she said.
We are very fortunate to have some of the most diverse communities in the province.” “
In terms of the community supporting us, there are so many Black-owned bakeries in the city of Edmonton.
We are very fortunate to have some of the most diverse communities in the province.”
Bakers are paid a wage that ranges from $12 to $15 an hour depending on the size of the business, and they are required to abide by certain rules, including not displaying products of their own ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
While the city has made strides in recent years in allowing bakeries to open and operate, there is still a lack of recognition of the many African-American and Indigenous bakeries that exist in the region, said Given.
“There are a number of places that don’t have Black-Owned Baking Inc. in their directory,” she added.
“It is a big deal for us, because we are not necessarily in the position where we have to worry about it, because of the discrimination we face.”
Baking is one industry that has benefited from the city’s embrace of diversity.
The Alberta Food and Beverage Marketing Corporation, an industry trade association, says the industry employs more than 100,000 people across the province.
While there are still challenges to overcome, it says Alberta is home to more than 500 black-run businesses, many of which are operating at low- and moderate-income levels.
“Alberta is home not only to black-and-white bakeries, but also to ethnic bakeries as well, and I think we’re going to see a significant increase in that number,” said Gendin.
“So, we’re hopeful that the city will be able to bring in more businesses that have been established in the past and that they will be more able to be viable businesses that can provide employment to the city.”