The Bread project was specifically programmed and designed to give space and value to under-represented voices in the digital and entertainment space–that of older women. The navigation is purposely simple in order to increase accessibility in this core demographic. Bread is an interactive video project that provides an accessible user experience as part of a series of projects called interactive video anthologies. These projects are aimed at combining NFB documentary filmmaking with easy to use interfaces to bring the NFB’s work to a wider online audience. Projects like Bread allow for the story to drive the experience and deliver the concept through clever use of the main navigation and the process of making bread. The video format allows the subjects to be fully explored on any device while adding additional elements like recipes to further enhance the knowledge these women share with us.
About this project
“All sorrows are less with bread” – Cervantes
Artist and social innovator Mariette Sluyter’s Bread opens the oven door on the practice of making bread and highlights the way it connects to our cultural and emotional wellbeing. An experiment in human connectivity and interactive storytelling, Bread allows us to take a peek into the lives of six older women from very different backgrounds, all of whom share a passion for bread making.
The web-based project grew out of work Mariette was doing with Calgary Family Services’ Older Adult Team, where baking bread was used as a means to bring people together and improve their quality of life. The theory was that if older people who were at risk of social isolation got together and shared recipes from their culture, they could break down cultural barriers through their own innate storytelling desire, in order to ‘find the universals’ that transcend culture.
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Six recipes. Six different women. While recounting lifetimes of hardship and joy, the women profiled in this interactive documentary share the beloved bread recipes of their families, communities, and heritages, mastered through decades of repetition and perfection. From loaves to flatbreads to stuffed rolls, the recipes profiled in Bread reflect the diverse experiences of the women behind them.
A Hungarian immigrant in the 1930s, Anne now reflects on aging, hard work, and her rural childhood while kneading an airy loaf of white bread. Carrie, a Cree woman, remembers a painful legacy of cultural erasure in the residential schools of her youth as she replicates the fresh, warm loaves her grandmother once baked. Born in India, Vidya rejected the role of women in her culture and immigrated to Canada, where she now happily prepares her famous roti for family and friends. Vera remembers the comforting bread her mother baked for unemployed workers during the Great Depression; she revisits her Russian heritage by preparing her signature stuffed bread rolls. Born in Holland, Wilma was eight years old when war broke out in Europe. Once surrounded by violence and death, she nevertheless celebrates the joy in life, as with her traditional Dutch pannekoek recipe. And Charlotte, a Blackfoot woman from Pikani Nation, cooks up a batch of her beloved fry bread as she reflects on her difficult childhood immersion in colonial culture and language.
Each woman’s story is a unique and heartening testament to the rich experiences that make up a long life, and each bread recipe speaks to the spiritual and cultural nourishment that only fresh, hand-made food can provide. Social innovator Mariette Sluyter brought the women in Bread together for a community initiative in which baking bread served as a means for seniors to share stories, create meaningful social connections, and improve their quality of life. By sharing recipes from their families and cultures, the women in Bread are breaking down cultural barriers through storytelling and highlighting the universal human experiences—tragedies, joys, fears and sorrows—that make us who we are.
Six recipes. Six different women. Recounting lifetimes of hardship and joy, the women profiled in this interactive documentary share the beloved bread recipes of their families, communities, and heritages, reflecting the spiritual and cultural nourishment that only fresh, hand-made food can provide. From the Dutch pannekoek recipe of a WWII refugee to the traditional fry bread of a Blackfoot woman, each recipe reflects the diverse experiences of the woman behind it. By sharing recipes from their families and cultures, the women in Bread are giving voice to the universal human experiences—pain, joy, memory, and love—that make us who we are.
Mariette Sluyter Biography
Ms. Sluyter knows stories are the soil from which our cultures grow and the stories we tell, or don’t tell shape how we plan, develop and learn in our communities and as a species. It is because of understanding the vital role of the storyteller that Mariette has committed her adult life to supporting a more accurate view of the world and supporting the voices of the underrepresented for a mainstream audience in her quest for social learning and justice. For more details check out Ms. Sluyter’s Ted Talk on Leadership the World Needs Now: The role of the artist in society
Her work has won her awards in the world of the arts as well as social justice and has seen her focus on Aboriginal issues in the medical profession, internalized racism and lateral violence through her work with The University of Calgary. Her work with Ryerson University explored social isolation, racism and cultural barriers using story and song to explore potential issues and outcomes with newcomers to Canada.
In recent years her work with the Seniors Action Group has allowed her to focus on issues specific to older adults including seniors health and sexuality with the ground breaking “Seniors a GOGO” in partnership with Calgary Sexual Health. This work also lead her to focus on digital eldering and you can see examples of stories that she supported seniors to share at bubbiesandzaidasblogging.blogspot.ca
She has also worked studied and supported the study of Human Learning Ecology through the Human Venture Institute & the Leadership Calgary and Edmonton programs, which endeavour to more closely align the stories we tell with the reality of what is happening for our species so that we, as humans, can learn to make better decision for the future.
When all of this isn’t happening you can find Ms. Sluyter on her farm in the Comox Valley growing food to feed herself, her family and her neighbours.
(Photo: Sean Dennie)
6 Women. 6 Recipes.
Anne Kerekes was born in Hungary in 1926 and immigrated to the rural coal-mining community of Wayne, Southern Alberta, at the age of 2. The frontier spirit survives in Anne as she bakes weekly for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren. When you drop by her house make sure you sneak a treat from the cookie drawer, which is always full.
Life on Gordon’s Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan in the 1950’s was not easy for Carrie Sheen, the eldest of five Cree girls, but drawing on memories of her grandmother has helped her grow into a compassionate member of her community. With residential school behind her, she has reconciled the lost years by baking healthy bread, and enjoying it with lots of butter.
Charlotte Yellowhorn McLeod grew up speaking Blackfoot on the Pikani Nation in Alberta. Her gentle spirit makes her a sought-after teacher in her community, and a valuable friend. She also makes some of the best fry bread and bannock you’ve ever tasted. Lottie can often be found with a drum, a song and a story.
Vera Kalmakoff has clearly conquered the communication barriers that growing up in the Russian-speaking community of Veregin, Saskatchewan, placed in her way. In her retired years she has started performing with “Seniors A GOGO”, starring in an educational play about seniors and sexuality. She is a proud single mother and grandmother. She did it her way!
Vidya Richardson is an extremely high-energy person. A passionate life-long learner, Vidya never sits still unless she’s actively meditating. She is always cooking for friends and family or volunteering with the Seniors’ Action Group. According to Vidya, coming to Canada from India in 1970 speaking Marathi, Hindi, and French was the start of a great adventure that just keeps getting better.
Leaving the Netherlands as a new bride at the age of 30, Wilma Sluyter came to snowy Kitimat, B.C. without a word of English, but with her sharp sense of humour intact. Although she no longer does the polka, she shops daily for a good loaf of bread, and can often be spotted feeding birds in her backyard.
Produced by the National Film Board of Canada
Created by Mariette Sluyter
Associate Producer – Teri Snelgrove
Interactive Producer – Dana Dansereau
Executive Producer – Loc Dao
Written by Mariette Sluyter
Story Editor – Jen Moss
Designer – Tracey Lebedovich
Developer – Darren Ortiz
Operations and Production Manager – Janine Steele
Project Managers – Vanessa Fukuyama, Laura Mitchell
Interactive Editor – Nicholas Klassen
Copy Editor – Jen Moss
Recipe Editor – Stacey Sellars
Director of Photography – Andrew Coppin
Location Sound Recordists – Per Asplund, Frank Russo, Sean Feldstein
Video Editor – Bill Hardman
Audio Editor – Jen Moss
Sound Designer and Composer – Dan Leavers
Motion Graphics – Chris McKinlay
Studio Administrator – Jennifer Roworth
Production Coordinators – Karen Downing, Kat Jayme
Production Supervisor – Kathryn Lynch
Technical Edit Coordinator – Wes Machnikowski
Production Assistants – Karen Chapman, Sarah Hagar, Nancy Jibbe
Marketing Manager – Jenny Thibault
Publicist – Pat Dillon
Web Marketing – Julie Matlin, Kathryn Ruscito
System Administrators – Sergiu Raul Suciu, Bruno Gervasi
William F. White International
The women of Bread and their families
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won over 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.