FNMI Summit Blog: Day 3

by Joey Flowers, The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada

On Day 3 of the Ashoka Changemakers conference, the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada hosted a round table discussion. The focus of this discussion was to think about which steps foundations and award winners could take to harness the momentum gained from the Changemakers awards.Foundations can take an active role in working with groups they fund. The financial support that comes from receiving grants from foundations is excellent, to be sure. Beyond this, however, financial backers have experience and networks to draw on, which could be of great use to those who receive financial support. In getting to know community projects and how they operate, foundations can move beyond strict criteria for project evaluation in order to develop a more nuanced way of thinking about what makes a project successful.

Along these lines, the Excellency in Literacy Foundation, headed by Usha Tamba Dhar, offered to assist groups in writing grant applications. Contact her at [email protected] for more details. Dhar emphasized the need to be succinct in presenting your project idea to foundations. Reduce your message to a 30-second pitch to hook the listener on your idea. Foundations might be interested in collaborating with award winners to develop tool kits out of innovative projects. In doing so, these projects may be seen as models for implementing in other communities across the country. Again, given the capacity that exists within some of the foundations, there is potential to take the Changemaker from the local to the national or international levels. Key to making long term changes in Indigenous/non-Indigenous relations in Canada is to focus on better education outcomes not only in Indigenous communities, but also improving the education of non-Indigenous Canadians about Indigenous Canadians.

This discussion echoes the spirit of the fourth recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Interim Report that “each provincial and territorial government undertake a review of the curriculum materials currently in use in public schools to assess what, if anything, they teach about residential schools in Canada.”In terms of increasing philanthropic activity with a focus on Indigenous Canadians, the Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples can act as a resource point for funders and community projects. Not only can the Circle act as a “go-to” group for anyone with an interest in Indigenous philanthropy, it can also serve to increase the presence of Indigenous Canadians in philanthropic groups, and assisting Indigenous groups to develop their own foundations to give back to their communities.