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



UAlberta Indigenous law centre gets federal boost

The University of Alberta's Wahkohtowin Law and Governance Lodge will be working with Indigenous communities to better access, understand, and apply Indigenous laws. "For a century few, if any, Canadian lawyers ever asked the question about how First Nations on the prairies regulated their societies and relationships and dealt with the same issues that common law, Western law dealt with," said David Percy, UAlberta's Interim Dean of Law. "The lodge is a great example of an academic institution listening to Indigenous communities and organizations. Canada will be better off for the work being done here and elsewhere across the country." The initiative has received $134K in funding from the Government of Canada.

FNTI builds greenhouse to support Indigenous Food Systems degree

The First Nations Technical Institute is constructing a greenhouse to support its new Indigenous Food Systems degree. FNTI reports that the build was specifically conceived to support the new standalone Bachelor of Science in Indigenous Food Systems program. Slated for delivery in Sept. 2020, the new degree program will provide students the knowledge and skills needed to improve food sovereignty. "The greenhouse can be used to address two critical issues that affect Indigenous communities: food security and our relationship to food and diet," said Luke Jeffries, Indigenous Food Systems program coordinator at FNTI. "This program and the food grown within the greenhouse will expose students' minds and palates to a wide variety of ideas and tastes and will begin to change their relationship with food and the Earth.

Canada's faculties of medicine commit to improving Indigenous health

The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada has approved a Joint Committee to Action on Indigenous Health that will aim to train medical students to better serve Indigenous communities. AFMC Indigenous network chair Marcia Anderson said that the commitment was made in response to the TRC, and that she hopes it will bring consistency to "highly variable" Indigenous health initiatives at schools across the country. The commitment includes several action items related to relationships with Indigenous communities, admissions, the medical school environment, curriculum and post-graduate education. 

Canada invests in new K-12 school for KI First Nation

A new school will be built in the Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation community, thanks to a $42M investment from the Government of Canada. The new school is expected to be constructed by Fall 2021, and the new K-12 school will accommodate nearly 400 students. "Every child deserves access to a high-quality education, regardless of where they live. First Nations children in Kenora riding, and across Canada are no exception," said Bob Nault, Member of Parliament (Kenora riding). "Children should be able to complete their education at home, in their own community and once the new school is completed, educators will be able to meet the community's unique needs and provide culturally appropriate programming and language supports."

Canada invests in early learning in GTA

The Government of Canada has announced $1.8M in funding for seven early learning and child care innovation projects in the Greater Toronto Area. The projects will take on challenges such as synthesizing and consolidating research and resources into accessible tools; developing and testing an enhanced accelerated ECE training program in Ontario; and creating a network of employers, labour unions, Indigenous representatives, and more to develop solutions to ELCC workplace challenges. "The early years of life are critical to a child's development and future well-being," explained Adam Vaughan, Member of Parliament for Spadina-Fort York. "As the needs of Canadian families evolve, we are committed to finding creative solutions to ensure our kids have the opportunity to experience the kinds of quality early learning that will help them build the skills needed to succeed." 




Indigenous-led initiative at YorkU to equip youth with skills training with support of new funding

An initiative designed by York University students to connect and support Indigenous youth will receive new funding from the federal government under the Canada Service Corps program. YorkU reports that the Indigenous Friends Association will use the investment to equip 120 First Nations, Inuit, Metis and non-Indigenous youth with the skills and training required to reduce employment and education gaps in technology, all while engaging ina process of reconciliation through collaborative learning and civic engagement. The project will be led and implemented by the Indigenous community of York in partnership with YWCA Canada and Digital Justice Lab. Local partnerships have been developed in Ontario with Sagamok Anishnawbek First Nation, Elephant Thoughts, Mikinaak and in Sask. with the YWCA Regina, North Central Hacker Dojo, West Flat Citizens Group.


First Nations initiative in Cape Breton to help students find career success after graduation

The federal government has announced nearly $1M in funding to support a program that prepares Indigenous students in Cape Breton for post-secondary education and future career sucess. CBC reports that the Mi'kmaw Economic Benefits Office will use the funds to support its existing programs, which include promoting employment opportunities and apprenticeships, recruiting from First Nations communities, delivering small business and personal finance workshops, and helping new high school graduates prepare for post-secondary. It will also help the office launch a new program aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous people in science, technology, engineering, math and business fields.

Regina-based organization focused on teaching newcomers about Indigenous history, culture

The Regina Open Door Society is working to combat the negative attitudes and stereotypes about Indigenous people that young newcomers are "bombarded with" when they first arrive in the country. The society is currently holding a summer program for youth called Reconciliation through Education that teaches newcomers about historic events in Canada that have impacted Indigenous people and involves them in First Nations cultural practices. "You should learn about Canada and its history, and the people who lived here before, before coming to Canada and before assuming something they are," said Raj Metker, who moved to Regina from India one year ago. "I think all the newcomers should help Indigenous people regain and recover from the previous things. I am doing that by learning about them." Youth case worker Megan Brooks described the program as an "introduction of starting to build bridges rather than {...} divides."

ON teacher uses Twitter to revive Munsee language

In Southwestern Ontario, educator Ian McCallum is using social media to revive the Munsee language. McCallum is a First Nations and Metis resource and elementary school teacher in the Barrie area, and he has begun posting translations and phrases to Twitter twice a day to reach people interested in the language. "I do simple vocabulary (translation) or I do things people find interesting. Sometimes I get off the beaten track and I will translate a song from the Eighties or Seventies for interest sake," said McCallum. "It's important to me because I believe a lot of the stories and deeper understanding of the culture is in the language. If the language ceases to exist, you lose that deeper meaning and connections with the world around you." The Kingston Whig Standard states that McCallum uses his knowledge to create the language curriculum for Munsee-Delaware Nation.




Some days, staying inside and out of the hot sun is a good idea. It's always good to give you and your family the chance to rest, relax and recharge, especially during the hot summer months. At ISWO, we know it can feel a little daunting to have to find something to do inside (especially with little ones in the house), so we compiled a list of podcasts, comic books, children's books and YouTube shows to keep you and your family busy, with a little learning and culture mixed right in.  





Canadian Youth Reconciliation Barometer 2019 - Environics Institute


Canada's relationship with the Indigenous Peoples who first inhabited this land continues to be largely unresolved and fraught with controversy. While today's reality is much improved from that of previous generations, there are currently a host of unresolved issues, ranging education reform in Aboriginal communities, proposed pipelines crossing native lands, treaty rights and land claims.

In 2019, where do we stand? The past few years have witnessed many expressed commitments of goodwill and intent, dialogues and discussions have taken place, and programs launched. At the same time, it is unclear what impact these efforts have had, and what progress has been achieved with respect to the awareness, attitudes and actions of individuals, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous. And, perhaps most importantly, what is the perspective of the country's youth - the emerging generation on whose shoulders the promise and challenges of reconciliation rests most directly?

The Canadian Youth Reconciliation Barometer is a new social research study intended to establish benchmark indicators for the state of reconciliation among the country's youth that can also provide a foundation for monitoring progress over time. The primary focus of this research is on beliefs, attitudes, priorities, behaviours and experiences as they pertain to relevant dimensions of Indigenous-non-Indigenous relations and reconciliation in particular. This initiative is a joint venture of the Environics Institute for Survey Research, Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE), and the MasterCard Foundation.

Read the full report below: 



Former northern Ontario chief to develop housing centres to 'create a sense of security' for evacuees

The former chief of Kashechewan First Nation is using his experience as an evacuee to help "create a sense of security"  for others who are forced to leave their community during forest fires or other emergency situations.

Derek Stephen said the housing centres will be located in Timmins and Thunder Bay

Christina Jung · CBC News · Posted: Jun 20, 2019 7:30 AM ET | Last Updated: an hour ago 
President of Cree-Ative Structures and former chief of Kasheschewan First Nation, Derek Stephen, said he wanted to "create a sense of security" for evacuees who are forced to leave their homes during an emergency situations. This is one of the proposed permanent housing centres where families can stay together. (Cree-Ative Structures / submitted)

The former chief of Kashechewan First Nation is using his experience as an evacuee to help "create a sense of security"  for others who are forced to leave their community during forest fires or other emergency situations.

Derek Stephen said he got tired of being displaced throughout the province when he and his family were forced to leave their community every year, during the spring flood and is in the process of developing a pair of permanent housing centres in Timmins and Thunder Bay.

"It's always been a personal experience for me since I was a young kid back in 85 when I first got evacuated from my community and also in 76," Stephen explained. "One thing I looked at is all the stress that happens when all families are displaced like grandparents and great-grandparents don't know where their grand-kids end up ... because they are all over Ontario."

Through his company, CREE-Ative Structures, Stephen said he has looked into developing a solution for evacuees in northern Ontario, for the past several years.

Read more ...