Update on things happening in Rotary and indigenous communities, including current events – Rotary luncheons with guest speakers, open community and cultural gatherings, etc.



Wake the Giant Festival in support of Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School, Thunder Bay - Sept. 14, 2019

Please see below link to the flyer for additional information about the festival and sponsorship opportunities. Thank you for your support!

Planning is underway for the Wake the Giant Music Festival. The aim of the festival will be to form stronger bonds, relationships and understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in Thunder Bay and the surrounding area. This will provide an opportunity for First Nations communities to connect with the community and feel more welcome and safe when they come to the city while offering an opportunity for people from Thunder Bay to become more familiar with First Nations people and their culture.

The festival will be a celebration of cultures with a spotlight on Indigenous culture and music featuring Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. There will be art installations and cultural booths. The Downie Wenjack Foundation will bring a national spotlight to the event. This would be a great reason to travel to Thunder Bay to visit the beautiful area and city and take in the festival at the same time!

Sponsorship opportunities from $1,000-$20,000 are available. Contact project co-ordinator Sean Spenrath at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 807-629-2614. Thank you for your continued support of DFC.



Wake the Giant Festival - Thunder Bay - Sept. 14, 2019


"First Contact" Screening and Panel sparks deeper discussion about Reconciliation

by natalie.saintcyr on February 1, 2019, 10:02am. EST

Emotions were high at O’Gorman High School Thursday evening after a TV series that focused on racist stereotypes against Indigenous Peoples in Canada was screened for the public.

The Timmins Rotary Club and Northeastern Catholic District Board hosted a special screening of “First Contact”, a show produced by Winnipeg-based Animiki See Digital Productions that aired on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. The show takes six Canadians, all with strong opinions about Indigenous people, on a unique journey through Canada that challenges their perceptions and prejudices.

The event started with introductions of a number of special guests administering and taking part in the panel discussion after the screening.There was an opening drum ceremony by the New Moon Sisters and a traditional prayer by Elder Elizabeth Babin of the Wahgoshig First Nation.

Mayor George Pirie addressed the crowd with a passionate statement about where Canada as a culture is headed.

“Canada needs a dream,” he said, “and that dream can be reconciliation. It’s big enough for Canada. And we must realize it.”

After the screening, the special panel talked about the misconceptions about Indigenous people and the stereotypes the show addressed. The panel participants were Deputy Grand Chief Walter Naveau of Nishnawbe Aske Nation, Chief Chad Boissoneau of Mattagami First Nation, and Elizabeth Babin.

The panelists took turns talking about their personal history, including their painful connections to the Residential Schools and Sixties Scoop. All three panelists spoke of personal trauma, cultural genocide and abuse.

“Assimilation is alive and well,” said Babin. And about the history of Indigenous abuse: “Now we’re in recovery mode.”

“Canada can be the greatest nation in the world,” said Niveau, “and yet Canada bleeds.”

The lively discussion turned to the audience and members shared their experiences, both as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

“That was a lot to absorb in one night,” said Saralynn Hayward, President of the Timmins Rotary Club, “I think it’ll take some time to reflect on it. But I think one thing that probably stuck out the most was the Residential Schools. And […] I have a two and a half year old and I can’t imagine having him ripped from my hands.”

Hayward spoke to media after the event and she said it’s important to bring events like this screening to Timmins.

“I think, because of the location of Timmins, and we have so many communities and Indigenous communities near us, that we have a lot of opportunity to create these friendships and create that reconciliation that was discussed so often tonight,” said Hayward.

As an organizer of the event, Hayward said it was everything she hoped for in terms of sparking conversation, storytelling and challenging racial stereotypes. The engagement from the audience shows a real interest in the problems and finding solutions.

The Timmins Rotary and HIP (Honoring Indigenous Peoples) have a partnership that has a board made up of 50% Indigenous people and 50% Rotary members. Rotary-HIP has expressed that one of their goals is to work with children and bring awareness about Residential Schools to the classroom.

“We heard it tonight,” she said, “that it’s the children that are being affected. But it’s also the children that can effect that change. So if we work with children, we can create those generations to come that we create that reconciliation with.”

Hayward says there are lots of different opportunities within the club to work within the community, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

“I see opportunities at, like, the Friendship Centre,” said Hayward, “or even at the YMCA, I’m not sure what sort of Indigenous Community is there. But there’s absolutely opportunities in Timmins.”

The show, “First Contact”, is available to watch online at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. 

Southern Ont. First Nation gifts warm clothes to Pikangikum students

The owner of a gallery in Ohsweken, a village on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, responded to a post on social media from Pikangikum's Eenchokay Birchstick School, asking for help to make sure students were properly clothed for the frigid winter weather.

A Six Nations business-owner arranged to send 70 new snowsuits to the local school

CBC News · Posted: Jan 25, 2019 4:00 PM ET | Last Updated: 5 hours ago
Students at Eenchokay Birchstick School in Pikangikum model new outdoor clothes gifted to them by Six Nations business-owner Dakota Brant and her sister and members of their community. (Dakota Brant/supplied)

Children and teens in Pikangikum First Nation in Ontario's far north are sporting warm new snow suits this month thanks to donations from another First Nation in southern Ontario.

Dakota Brant, who co-owns the Sapling and Flint Gallery in Ohsweken, a village on the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation, responded to a post on social media from Pikangikum's Eenchokay Birchstick School, asking for help to make sure students were properly clothed for the frigid winter weather.

Brant's company, which designs and sells jewelry, contributed 42 snowsuits to the school at a cost of more than $4,000, and other members of the Six Nations community chipped in another 28 suits. 

"We're both mothers," Brant said of herself and her sister, who co-owns the business with her. "I just don't think that there was a question that we think that when children need to be safe and warm, and there's a call-out put out there from another community ... there was no hesitating for us."  

"Everybody's child should be warm and safe," she added. 

Adults at Eenchokay Birchstick School in Pikangikum crack open the parcels of warm clothing sent from the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation. (Dakota Brant/supplied)

Brant was able to find an online retailer that offered free shipping, reducing the cost of the donation, she said.

The school specifically asked for new clothing, according to vice principal Jennifer Manitowabi, because it wanted quality goods that would withstand the harsh winters without needing repairs. 

The only shop in the community is the Northern Store, she said, and it's not always adequately stocked to meet every family's needs, nor are the prices accessible to everyone. 

"[The students would] come into the school off the bus, and I'd notice them only wearing a hoodie," she said. 

I'd say, "'Come with me to the office, and we're going to get you a jacket.' And typically they're expecting me to find something from the lost and found that might or might not fit them.  But [in] this case, because of the donations, we're able to offer them brand new outfits."    

Being able to offer new clothing to students right after Christmas was especially gratifying, Manitowabi said, because some children shared with her that they had not received many gifts.

"They were quite shy, but you could just see the joy in their smiles," she added of the students' reactions to the new clothes.

"When I would tell them, "OK, pick out a hat and mitts,' and then further tell them, 'Now you get to pick out a jacket and ski pants to match.'  And they almost couldn't believe me," she said.  "They're like, 'That's too much.'"

Another organization has also chipped in to help, and another six palettes-worth of clothing are on their way to the school, Manitowabi added.



Collingwood company to connect to Indigenous community with latest films

WhatsOn 1:00 AMCollingwood Connection

Awen Gathering Place

The Awen Gathering Place was designed to honour indigenous heritage. - John Edwards/Metroland

Mountain Goat Films is screening two films that focus on the local connection to the Indigenous community.

The first film is a documentary Gathering Circle, a look at the Awen Gathering Place at Harbourview Park.

The film will be screened on Jan. 30 at Simcoe Street Theatre at 7 p.m., as part of the Envisioning a Future Toward Reconciliation Presentation and Discussion event presented by the Town ofCollingwood.


 Tom and Tracey Strnad of Mountain Goat Film Company will be in attendance to discuss the film and answer questions. Register at culturesharecollingwood.eventbrite.com



2 Ontario Indigenous communities work together to create regional food cooperative

Ginoogaming and Aroland First Nations in northwestern Ontario are looking at setting up a food cooperative to serve nearby communities. The idea is being discussed as part of the Understanding Our Food System conference, running January 22-24 in Thunder Bay.

Representatives from 14 northwestern Ontario Indigenous communities sharing ideas at food security workshop

Cathy Alex · CBC News · Posted: Jan 24, 2019 8:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 2 hours ago
Jessica McLaughlin (left), the project coordinator at the Indigenous Food Circle in Thunder Bay, Ont., helped to organize the Understanding our Food System conference, attended by Angela Nodin (right) of Whitesand First Nation. The three-day workshop brought together people from 14 Indigenous communities to discuss food problems and solutions where they live. (Jessica McLaughlin)

Ginoogaming and Aroland First Nations in northwestern Ontario are looking at setting up a food cooperative to serve nearby communities.

The idea is being discussed as part of the Understanding Our Food System conference, running Jan. 22-24 in Thunder Bay.

The three-day workshop, hosted by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, brought together representatives from 14 communities with access to Highways 11 and 17, to explore food security and food self-determination with the goals of creating a unique food plan for each community and building long-term support networks.


Food system 'was our whole life'

The food system "was our whole life," said Jessica McLaughlin, the project coordinator at the Indigenous Food Circle in Thunder Bay, and one of the key conference organizers.

"We travelled around for food, that was how our lifestyles were pre-contact, and so we're talking a lot about them determining their own food systems and providing them with examples of people doing this work."