Actions and Commitments

Call to Action # 92: Business and Reconciliation (92)

Ben & Jerry’s Land Back tweet on Canada Day gets praise from First Nations people

July 7, 2023

Others called for boycott of ice cream company after tweet says Canada is on stolen land

Tubs of ice cream stacked in a grocery store freezer.
Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s sent out social media posts on Canada Day supporting the Land Back movement. (Jackie McKay/CBC)

CBC News: Ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s is being praised by many First Nations people in Canada for a tweet supporting the #LandBack movement on Canada Day. 

The tweet from the Canadian branch of the company read: “Another day to talk about #LandBack and how we can support communities defending their land. Take action this Canada Day.” 

The tweet was accompanied by a photo that read “O Canada, our home on stolen land.” 

“I think it’s amazing. I’m so happy that they tweeted that,” said Deanne Hupfield, who is Anishinaabe and a member of Temagami First Nation in northern Ontario. 

Deanne smiles at the camera in raindow beaded pow wow regalia.
Deanne Hupfield is Anishinaabe from Temagami First Nation and said Ben and Jerry’s is ‘bold and brave’ for publicly supporting the Land Back movement.  (Alyssa Wabanosse)

She said she likes to see companies take a stand on social justice and has admired the company for being “bold and brave.”  “I’m happy they said it, creating discussion, but they’re also they’re facing the racism now that we face on when we try to speak up about it,” said Hupfield.  “I was grateful for them.” 

Many people reacted to the tweet by calling for a boycott of the brand. 

But Ben & Jerry’s didn’t stop there. On July 4, the U.S. branch of the company sent out a similar tweet saying the United States was founded on stolen Indigenous land and calling for Americans to learn more and take action, sparking similar outrage. 

CBC News reached out to Unilever, the company that owns Ben & Jerry’s, for comment but did not hear back by time of publishing. 

A tab on Ben & Jerry’s Canadian labelled Land Back links to a blog post with a video by Mi’kmaw lawyer Pamela Palmater from Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick, explaining Land Back.  Palmater said she has no ties to Ben & Jerry’s but was interviewed by the company’s blog last year about Land Back. The blog has a series of articles on Indigenous issues. 

“You’ve got now this movement where companies care about social justice, they’re not just out to make money,” said Palmater.

A woman with black hair with a blonde streak has a wide smile. She is wearing long feather earrings.
Pamela Palmater is an Mi’kmaw lawyer and member of the Eel River Bar First Nation in New Brunswick. (Submitted by Pam Palmater)

Palmater said, to her, Land Back means giving land and resources back to Indigenous people for their care, control and protection.  “It doesn’t mean all Canadians are kicked out of their homes and have to go back to their countries of their families’ origins,” said Palmater. 

Palmater said she is in support of companies taking social justice stances if they are consistently promoting the issues and uplifting the voices of Indigenous people.  “They’re basically using their power and influence to say, ‘Hey, you need to listen to these people; you need to address injustices’ and I think that’s how it’s not performative,” said Palmater. 

Sonya smiles at the camera standing on a hill, wearing a yellow cardigan and thick black rimmed glasses.
Sonya Ballantyne, a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation, says it’s easy for companies not to take stances on issues. (Submitted by Sonya Ballantyne )

Sonya Ballantyne, a member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation, about 400 kilometres north of Winnipeg, said it’s easy for companies not to say anything at all and she appreciates the effort even if it’s just a tweet.  “Any small step is good because a marathon is a series of small steps anyway,” said Ballantyne.

“We’re not going to get to a better world with Ben & Jerry’s tweeting Land Back. But it’s like, it’s a good start.”  Ballantyne said her favourite Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavour is Chunky Monkey even though she is lactose intolerant. 


Jackie McKay, Reporter

Jackie McKay is a Métis journalist working for CBC Indigenous covering B.C. She was a reporter for CBC North for more more than five years spending the majority of her time in Nunavut. McKay has also worked in Whitehorse, Thunder Bay, and Yellowknife. Follow her on Twitter @mckayjacqueline.