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



We are so pleased to report that the recent Rotary HIP article written by Andre Morriseau is now published.  If you would like to read please see the attached link:



Congratulations, Andre for helping spread the word of HIP(Honouring Indigenous People)



Article on HIP Educational Initiative

An Educational Partnership Between Rotary and Aboriginal People

Rotarians Building Bridges to Aboriginal Peoples Through Business and HIP Innovation

By Andre Morriseau

Senior Manager, Awards and Communications

Canadian Council For Aboriginal Business(CCAB)

The Rotary Club is a grass-roots organization consisting of business professionals and community leaders that volunteer time, talent & resources in order to remedy vital community needs. With over 1.2 million members worldwide Rotary has been making history and bringing the world closer together for over 100 years. Since forming in 1905, they've taken on some of the world's toughest challenges and helped a wide range of international and service organizations get started from the UN to Easter Seals.

Rotarians in Southern Ontario once again has Rotary at the forefront of applying new ideas on the road to creative solutions through the newly created Honouring Indigenous People (HIP) website. HIP was created after extensive consultation with a number of members of the indigenous community and organizations.

"HIP is honouring indigenous people by supporting their educational efforts and encouraging all Canadians to become aware of indigenous issues, history and culture. It is the hope of Rotarians, Rotary clubs and others that partnerships and collaborations will be established with indigenous people in Canada focusing on creating mutual awareness and understanding" stated HIP Chair Chris Snyder.

The HIP board is made up of 50% Rotarians from 5 Rotary districts and 50% educational leaders and members of the indigenous community. By going to www.rotaryhip.com people have access to a go-to information website. Here one can find details about the organization, a blog with current news and events, reading suggestions, links, current Rotary projects and their HIP approved projects. It is their hope to connect all 750 clubs across Canada and supportive individuals with the indigenous community and vice versa.

Wilfrid Wilkinson,Past President of Rotary International has been a Rotarian for over 52 years. In his travel with the Rotarians he has visited India 27 times working with villagers on numerous projects, making vital connections.

Wilkinson stated, "Here in Canada I found that Rotarians didn't appear to have made the same connections with Canada's Aboriginal communities as I had witnessed first-hand in places like India. It is for this very reason that I salute Rotarians in Southern Ontario for taking on the great challenge of working to change this dynamic through initiatives such as the Honouring Indigenous People (HIP) website."

The Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) joined early on as a Charter Member and active member of The Rotary Club of Toronto Aboriginal Service Committee. They were intrigued by the potential connection between Rotary's business roots and the pursuit of Aboriginal business participation.

CCAB President and CEO, JP Gladu, who recently had the opportunity to deliver the keynote address at a Rotary Club of Toronto luncheon stated, "The work that Rotarians are spearheading with HIP allows the ingenuity of business to support commitment to the spirit of mutual understanding."

"The average Canadian doesn't realize that members of the Aboriginal community were not allowed the right to vote in Canada before 1961, nor do they realize that tens of thousands of Aboriginal children were forced into residential schools where many were sexually and physically abused and stripped of their languages, culture and dignity. This is the very education factor that is vital on the road to informing Canadians of past injustices while embracing a path of equitable reconciliation on the road to prosperity for all Canadians."

"The Aboriginal community were the original business success story in Canada driving the fur trade. Since then we've been on a forced hiatus in the business world for the past couple of hundred years, but times are changing. One doesn't have to look far today to find examples of Aboriginal business success in all sectors of the economy.It is through the forward thinking work of the Rotarians that business now has an opportunity to forge a new relationship with the Aboriginal community on the way to a brighter future for all Canadians."

HIP is currently accepting Charter Memberships for a lifetime payment of $100.00. For more information contact Chris Snyder at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Deborah Dundas Books, Published on Sun Nov 9, 2014

Indigenous writers take the stage at Inspire! book fair

The Inspire! book fair, taking place from Nov. 13 to 16 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, features eight stages on which around 400 writers from all genres are set to appear.

Michael Kusugak lives in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. His latest book is T is for Territories: A Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut Alphabet Book.

When former publisher John Calabro was planning the Inspire! book fair, the idea of having a space for indigenous writing was always part of the plan.

"I really wanted to reflect the whole book landscape in Canada," he says. "And you can't reflect the whole landscape without including indigenous writing and putting a spotlight on indigenous authors."

The timing, it would seem, couldn't be better. Indigenous writers have been increasingly in the Canadian literary spotlight: Joseph Boyden won the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize for Through Black Spruce; Thomas King is up for a 2014 Governor General's award for fiction for The Back of the Turtle; Edmund Metatawabin's memoir Up Ghost River has become an important account of residential school abuse, while Richard Wagamese recently appeared at the International Festival of Authors to present his latest book, Medicine Walk.

Despite the appearance of a sudden surge in popularity, the native voice has not been particularly quiet, says Wagamese, who will not be appearing at Inspire! "If people had been listening, our voices have been present as literature not only since settler people first got here, but generation after generation before that. We had a literature that was oral for time immemorial . . . I think the more accurate way is saying it is being more accepted these days.

"We're becoming an undeniable voice. And the strength and the vitality in the way we're learning and choosing to tell our stories is becoming undeniable so that when we present manuscripts to publishers the first thing they look at is the quality of the writing and not the colour of the person," says Wagamese. "(What) we're indeed engaged in creating is a literature of our people."

The Inspire! book fair, taking place from Nov. 13 to 16 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, features eight stages on which around 400 writers from all genres are set to appear. One of those stages is the First Nations, Metis and Inuit Literary Circle, which will showcase writers, storytellers and performers as well as book signings, sharing circles and roundtable discussions on issues including culture and language.

Paul Seesequasis, author of Tobacco Wars and founder of Aboriginal Voices magazine, was in on the ground floor of planning that space.

"The literary circle is a dedicated space for indigenous writers to not only present their work but to meet the public, to do panel discussions, signings and have a space that's identifiable as an indigenous space," and a "welcoming atmosphere," he says.

"It's about sharing space; it's about sharing perspectives; it's about exchanging ideas; it's about learning from each other.

"There's more interest and awareness in indigenous issues, the Idle No More movement, environmental concerns, all those factors are contributing to it. There's a sense of, well, 'what is the indigenous perspective on that?' And I don't think it's just about what happened in the past, but it's also very much looking at contemporary issues...and looking forward."

Metatawabin has a difficult story to tell about the past, which he'll share at Inspire!, about the treatment he and other young aboriginal people withstood during the residential school scandal.

"People say they're very surprised to read what has been going on. They say, 'We didn't know you guys were electrocuted in school, we didn't know you were forced to eat your own vomit, that you were sexually abused' and I asked them, 'What would you feel if it was your child that was suffering like that?'"

Reconciliation is, after all, a big part of storytelling. So is looking to the future. Seesequasis is also the editor-in-chief of Theytus Books, a small publishing house in British Columbia. One of the projects they're working on now, he says, is putting together an indigenous science fiction anthology.

Actor and playwright Reneltta Arluk also had a hand in planning the Inspire! space. "We really wanted to incorporate a lot of the different genres...we're multidisciplinary so we wanted to make sure we had everything represented...the spoken word, mostly because of the oral tradition."

"I think what's happening is that a lot of people are talking about (the) Idle No More (movement), but with the unity and the positive unity of people sharing the same voice," she says. "The arts are always the first ones marching. And I think the quality of work that we're creating is quite visceral and really strong. You look at Joseph Boyden, Tom King, Richard Van Camp. It's all become so good."

Michael Kusugak, who writes children's stories and is set to appear at Inspire!, says that when his boys were little, he'd read to them every night. "But absolutely nothing that had anything to do with the north, northern Canada."

One night, he put the books away and started telling them stories. "And they said, 'Dad, why don't you write it down?'"

He did, and that story became A Promise is A Promise, which became a classic around the world. "People up north start to read it and people down south start to read it, and the kids up north pick up on that. It's like having their culture thrown back to them."

The importance of kids being able to hear their own stories can't be overstated. Kusugak tells of "an old, old woman" who came to one of his readings. "Years ago I was doing a tour of northern Quebec...and she came with a pillow, put it on the floor and proceeded to lie there.

"I was thinking I was fairly young and I thought 'Oh, she must have some really incredible stories, she should be here and I should be down there.'"

At any rate, he continued with his stories. "I told them all in Inuktitut and that old woman came over to me and said, 'Thank you, thank you.' She hadn't heard those stories since she was a little girl when the priest came and said the stories were not to be told again."

Check out torontobookfair.ca for more information about Inspire!

Commemorating the sacrifice of First Nations veterans

Brant News

By Zig Misiak November 6, 2014

Since 2012, we have been commemorating the 200th anniversaries of many events related to the War of 1812 all over Canada and the U.S.

I had the privilege of being the chairman of the War of 1812 committee comprised of volunteers from Brantford and the County of Brant, in collaboration with First
Nations. A souvenir map of three major events was created with thousands of copies distributed.

Spinoffs from this commemoration spread far and wide and many more people became aware of the War of 1812 events that took place – especially in our area. We became significant and known throughout other parts of Canada.

During that war 200 years ago, our surrounding communities provided essential militia to support the fragile regular British army. Our Six Nations and
Mississaugas of the New Credit neighbours, as well as many other First Nations allies, played a major role preventing American occupation of the lands north of the
Great Lakes.

Nearing the end of these commemorations, we are now rolling into the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. Once again, our communities of
Brantford, Brant and our neighbours and allies from the Six Nations and Mississaugas played a significant role in this horrific event.

I was recently at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Ohsweken. I have been there many times before. Each time, I stand among the large crowds from all over North America and I become enveloped in the emotion of the day.

I am always very touched by the very clear and loud reaffirmation of the First Nations' loyalty to the Crown and to Canada. They are very proud of the fact that
they have faithfully volunteered to fight alongside their allies – us – for several centuries.

I stood with my eyes closed as they read the names of those that lost their lives during the First World War and Second World War. They also remembered the warriors that died during the War of 1812.

Two hundred years ago, the Six Nations territory and surrounding counties were invaded by more than 750 American mounted militia who came to destroy farms, mills, Six Nations villages and outflank the British stationed at Burlington Heights.

Read more ...