The Breakfast Pig is partnering with the African Carribean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario (ACCANO) to help Black post-secondary students in Sault Ste. Marie.
Angela Caputo says her Bruce Street breakfast and brunch eatery is currently using its website to sell Black Lives Matter shirts and Afro-Carribean takeout dinners for a limited time, with the majority of proceeds going directly to a new scholarship fund that is being established by ACCANO.
Caputo isn’t making any money from the sales. Rather, the restaurateur was compelled to take action for the Black community after reading a SooToday article about the burning of Black Lives Matter signage on the campus of Algoma University last month.
“When I saw the article about the burning of the Black Lives Matter signs, I felt like that was a really poor representation of our community,” said Caputo. “I wanted to give people the chance to show their support.”
“I think the actions of one person should not define all of us.”
Caputo subsequently reached out to ACCANO and set up a meeting in order to propose a plan of action.
“They were actually emotional. They were so happy to have that support,” she said. “They said that I was the first person in the community to reach out, to take action - a lot of verbal support, but no one had reached out to this point to take actual action. So they were all for it.”
ACCANO co-founder Dave Mornix credits Caputo for the “beautiful work” that’s being done in terms of “stepping forward” and forming a partnership with the organization in order to support the Black community within the Sault.
“Angela and The Breakfast Pig has been a shining example of what allyship looks like – not someone who’s talking about it, but someone who is willing to take a chance to do something about being a good ally,” Mornix said.
The ACCANO scholarship aims to help Black students attending Sault College and Algoma University by alleviating some of the financial burden attached to coming to Sault Ste. Marie as international students.
“We make significant contributions to the community,” said Mornix. “One of the things I believe that people don’t talk about enough is the contribution international students from all over the world make to Sault Ste. Marie.”
The purpose of the scholarship is actually two-fold: Black students will be required to contribute to the community as a whole through volunteering in order to qualify for support from ACCANO. Mornix sees this criteria as a way for the Black community to connect with people and build a relationship with Sault Ste. Marie.
Drawing from his own personal experiences, Mornix says that he’s seen many of his educated friends in the Sault’s Black community leave the city due to a lack of employment opportunities - and a general sense of belonging.
“This is a way for us to encourage them to connect to the community by volunteerism. That’s one of the main things,” he said. “We want them to be actively engaged, so that they can build [a] relationship with this space, and hopefully find employment opportunities.”
The Black Lives Matter shirts will be available through The Breakfast Pig’s website until Sept. 24. Online orders for the full-course Afro-Carribean takeout dinner will be accepted right up until Oct. 2, the date in which the food will be available for either pick-up or delivery.
The food will be prepared by ACCANO members and Caputo, with staff from The Breakfast Pig volunteering their time and efforts to the fundraising dinner.
Caputo says the fundraising efforts are important in terms of building relationships and connecting with the Sault’s Black community.
“We’re bringing diversity to the community by bringing more Black students to town, and also it’s supporting our local economy by supporting our post-secondary institutions,” she said. “I think it’s really important for people to understand that people that are coming into town from different regions of the world, they want to help to bolster our economy. They want to see Sault Ste. Marie thrive, and this is a great way for them to start being known throughout the community.”
“I think it’s important for them to see their faces, and be able to put some names to the whole Black Lives Matter [movement]," she continued. "I think in some situations that phrase can come across as touchy, but I think we have kind of come to the agreement that all lives do matter, and I think it’s time that we give Black lives the respect that they deserve and allow them into the conversation, and to be able to say, ‘our lives matter too’.”
All orders for shirts and takeout dinners can be made through The Breakfast Pig website.