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



Art installation seeks to reconcile through the creative process

Public screening and discussion called Envisioning a Future Toward Reconciliation at the Simcoe Street Theatre on Jan. 30
 by: Jessica Owen
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Mayor Brian Saunderson and Coun. Kathy Jeffery take in the new art exhibit that will adorn the walls of council chambers until March 8, called Call to Action #83. Jessica Owen/CollingwoodToday

The Town of Collingwood unveiled a new reconciliation art project in council chambers on Monday night.

The project is titled Call to Action #83 after the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Action #83, which calls upon Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists to undertake collaborative projects and produce works that contribute to the reconciliation process. The project is a collaboration between the Town of Collingwood and the Wawasayguming Arts and Culture Board, and will be on display until March 8.


Project Curator Mary Louise Meiers brought together eight Indigenous artists and eight non-Indigenous artists (including local artist Peter Adams) in a quest for truth and reconciliation through sharing, learning, and collaboration.

“Artists chose the order in which to make their artwork, alternating non-indigenous with indigenous,” explained Meiers in a video shown to council. “The first artist who was non-Indigenous, had two weeks to create his piece and then handed it to the first Indigenous artist and with it, shared his creative process. The next artist responded to the piece and in two weeks brought her artwork to the third artist, telling about her process. This continued with each artist being inspired by the previous artist in the quest for a shared vision.”

The result is a linked series of artworks that reflect past experiences while envisioning a future toward reconciliation.


The public is invited to view the panels during council and committee meetings, or Thursdays in January and February between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or by contacting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The public is also invited to a presentation and discussion called Envisioning a Future Toward Reconciliation, at which Meiers will talk about the project along with some of the artists and presiding elders. The presentation will be followed by a screening of Gathering Circle and open discussion and will be held on Jan. 30, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Simcoe Street Theatre. The event is free to attend, but guests are asked to reserve seats.

For more information or to reserve seating, click here.]





Story of Collingwood's Awen Gathering Circle inspires documentary

The documentary will premier at the town's Envisioning a Future toward Reconciliation event on Jan. 30.
 by: Erika Engel
The title screen from a documentary produced by Mountain Goat Film Company and the Town of Collingwood on the Awen Gathering Circle, which will premier on Jan. 30.

What began as a short how-it’s-made video on the construction of Collingwood’s Awen Gathering Circle, became a documentary about collaboration along the path to reconciliation.

Tom Strnad, one of the filmmakers on the project said the film became more than a behind-the-scenes look at the design and construction of a structure as soon as he began interviews with those involved. Initially, the town wanted a short video showing how the gathering circle was made. As the filmmakers dove into how it was made, both Strnad and the town began to see the story went deeper than laser-cut steel and cleaning up an old landfill.

The Gathering Circle was created with the direct involvement of indigenous architects, and the idea was inspired by a concept Dr. Duke Redbird came up with – to pair seven Ojibwe grandfather teachings with the seven layers of a food forest.

Tom and Tracy Strnad of Mountain Goat Film Company Inc. co-produced the short film, called Gathering Circle, with the Town of Collingwood. 

“The amount of Indigenous spaces designed by Indigenous architects is really limited,” said Strnad. “So that’s really unique.”

The ten-minute film includes interviews with Cal Brook of Brook McIlroy and Ryan Gorrie, one of the Indigenous architects on the design team.

“The story behind this is perhaps more important than the thing itself,” said Gorrie in the film.

For Strnad, Gorrie’s observation rang true. 

“Seeing it come from basically a pile of what used to be a landfill there … Witnessing the opening ceremonies and learning the stories, the spiritual journey of it, and the journey the film took as well, it really comes together in its own way,” said Strnad. “There’s something special [about the gathering circle]. I think it really brings everyone together. I think it’s a really important step in the truth and reconciliation process.”

In fact, the film is part of the agenda for a town event called Envisioning a Future toward Reconciliation on Jan. 30. The presentation and discussion, which takes place from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Simcoe Street Theatre will include a screening of the documentary, a presentation by Mary Louise Meiers on the Call to Action #83, a reconciliation art project that has combined indigenous and non-indigenous artists brought together to reflect past experiences and envision a future toward reconciliation through their artwork.

Some of the artwork from this project is currently on display at town hall.

Meiers’ presentation will include some of the artists and presiding elders. The evening will conclude with an open discussion.

Tickets to the event are free, but the town is asking guests to reserve a spot online here, or by emailing the Arts and Culture department here. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Strnad said he is currently working with the town to get the film into various film festivals around the world.



UPDATE | The 176 Million Dollar Question: Are the Promised Federal Education Funds for First Nations Actually Flowing?

UPDATE | The 176 Million Dollar Question: Are the Promised Federal Education Funds for First Nations Actually Flowing?

 Posted December 4, 2018
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There is new data available for the education funding Brief published last month. That Brief (below) utilizes figures from the Public Accounts of Canada. Public Accounts data comprises the sum of total expenditures in elementary and secondary education, and post-secondary education.

Since its publication, the Department of Indigenous Services Canada contacted Yellowhead with an answer to the question: why the funding disparity? They provided specific information with respect to expenditures in First Nations elementary and secondary education.

In the 2015-16 fiscal year, the Department spent $1.464.7B1 on Elementary and Secondary education out of a total education expenditure of $1.805.1B2 spent on First Nations education. Post-secondary education comprises the balance of expenditures ($340.4m). 

There is a five-year commitment to add $2.6 billion3 to the 2015-16 total for Elementary and Secondary education. The Department clarified that new funds added each year do not create a new baseline. In other words, they are program expenditures over and above the funding which has historically been provided. The Department provided a graph to illustrate this point.   The promise of $287.54million in Year 1, 2016-17, is shown as being added to the 2015-16 baseline, but it does not change the baseline for Year 2 (2017-18).

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The historic funding amount which serves as the baseline has been widely acknowledged as being inadequate to meet the needs of First Nations education, particularly First Nations schools, and has been subject to a two per-cent cap on annual increases for over two decades.   The graph provided by the Department shows that the historic funding amount, represented by the blue line, gradually increases annually.

The chart provided by the Department suggests that the federal government has provided its Year 2 commitment of $382.9 million, and kept its promises for the first two years of its five-year commitment to First Nations Elementary and Secondary education. There is no additional information publicly available to confirm this information, but if it is the case, then it is a positive development, particularly for First Nations schools. This leaves a total of approximately $1.930 billion in additional funding out of the original $2.6 billion commitment remains to be allocated in 2018-19, 2019-20, and 2020-21.

In the meantime, there are ongoing deliberations between representatives of national and regional First Nations organizations, and the federal government, to develop new and modernized funding approaches, nationally, and regionally, to replace the inadequate and outdated funding model which has been in place for decades.  Although it is a difficult task, it is critical that this work achieve success; current and future generations of First Nations students are depending on it.