Barren Ground Coffee includes Indigenous language labelling on bags

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - Barren Ground Coffee, a specialty coffee microroaster, is pleased to announce expansion plans into Nunavut. The company must adhere to federal food regulations that include bilingual labeling if they wish to retail outside of the NWT. As they have updated some of their labelling to reflect French, Barren Ground Coffee has also included two Indigenous languages.

“As we hope to soon be retailing in Nunavut, we wanted to feature Inuktitut on our packaging,” said Eric Binion, co-founder of Barren Ground Coffee. “In addition, there are over 2,000 people who speak Tłı̨chǫ in the NWT, and NWT Community Survey data shows that that number is increasing. We took note of that. Ideally we would have all eleven NWT official languages, but for now we are limited to a small label space on our hand stamped bags”.

The use of Indigenous languages in the NWT is on the decline, going against the national trend. Barren Ground Coffee recognizes the importance of language revitalization and sustaining languages in the north. “As a northern business, we will do what we can to make local languages visible”, said Binion. “We praise any other companies who do business in the north that recognize our eleven official languages and make an effort to include them”.

Barren Ground Coffee worked with artist Andrew Hall and Tłı̨chǫ translator Mary Siemens and Inuktitut translator Suzie Napayok in order to finalize the text. “We are not the first commercial food operation to include Indigenous language labelling, but we would make a safe bet that we are certainly the first coffee roasting company!”, said Binion.

With the new labelling, Barren Ground Coffee has set in motion plans to begin retailing at partner locations in Kugluktuk, Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit, Rankin Inlet, and Baker Lake and hopes to be on shelves by early 2019.