Rotary Land Acknowledgement

It has recently been suggested that Rotary Clubs acknowledge the land that the club meets on. The acknowledgement could read as follows (Toronto is the example): 

We would like to take the time to honour the First Nations of this region who have occupied this land for millennia. The land on which we are located has been a site of human activity for thousands of years. I would like to take this opportunity to honour the Indigenous lands as this is the traditional territory of the Huron Wendat Confederacy, the Seneca of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, and most recently the Mississaugas of the New Credit as present day guardians of this land. We honour the Ancestors who are buried here in this place. We honour the plant life, insects, fish, bird life and great diversity of animals who share this special place with us. And we honour the Indigenous peoples who dwell in the Greater Toronto Area as this place is part of their home today and a part of Mother Earth.   Chi-Miigwetch-Niawen- Thank You!

(Adapt for the region you find yourself in at the time and acknowledge the First Nations of that region)


Success Stories 

  • An In-Kind network has been established with thanks to HIP, HIP director John Andras, Rotarian John Currie, Trucks for Change, Manitoulin, Mackie Transport, Gardwine Transport and Wasaya Airlines. A coat drive brought over 1,500 articles of warm clothing to 9 First Nation communities(Bearskin Lake & KI just to name a few) in December. Skids of donations (including hockey equipment collected by Lisa Aitkin) were delivered to KI separately from the Kawartha Missions.  Skids of coats (mostly new) were delivered to Kasabonika.  Sixty-nine totes of goods were collected by Saint Michel Catholic School in Leamington and delivered to Bearskin Lake. More drives are being co-ordinated in early 2017.

  • The Rotary Club of Stratford is pleased to announce that a student from Cape Dorset will be arriving in January for a semester of school and be given an opportunity to experience life and culture in Southern Ontario. A pilot project was undertaken in 2016 and was very successful. Cape Dorset was the selected northern community because of the loss of the secondary school in a fire in 2015. The grade 8 student will live with a host family. The program is a collaboration between the school board and the RC of Stratford. The annual cost is $8,000.  It was felt that attracting students in grades 7-9 would expose them to more educational opportunities and experiences outside their communities while recognizing and respecting their cultural mores. It is hoped the students will become leaders and help change attitudes in their communities when they return home.
  • Our recent HIP Approved project with The Dollywood Foundation has shown great success. By the end of the year, the Foundation is expecting to reach one million books/month. New affiliates include Native Child and Family Services of Toronto(serving 200 off reserve children in Toronto) in partnership with HIP, Dr. Suzanne Stewart and OISE along with theRotary Club of Grand Prairie, AB will soon be joining.  Six Nations will celebrate their one year anniversary in the program with 170 children participating.  Congratulations all involved and hope for continued success.
  • Kashechewan's Paddling with the Cree is a new project with HIP.  Eighteen youth will canoe along the Albany River in August travelling from Hearst, Ontario to Kashechewan in an impressive adventure. Financial support is needed to cover the costs of lodging, canoes, equipment and training. Check our HIP Approved Project page for detailed information.
  • One of our HIP Approved projects, Neskantaga put forward a request for 16 pairs of childrens' skates so the community children could enjoy this recreational activity.  Within days, HIP was advised that the owner, Ewan, of Bert's Sports Excellence in Mississauga could donate the much needed skates.  Thank you for the very kind donation.
  • One of our HIP Approved projects, Better Hearing Education for Northern Youth, recently received $300,000 as one of three winner groups who shared in the Arctic Inspiration Prize.  The funds will be used to outfit teachers on Baffin Island with microphones and classrooms with speakers "so students can hear no matter where the teacher is."  Congratulations!
  • Better Hearing in Education for Northern Youth, hopes to see amplification systems installed in every school in each of the 13 communities in Nunavut's Qikiqtani region to help children with hearing problems.

  • Neskantaga, a remote northern community, will get a new playground just in time for spring.  Through fundraising efforts from several Rotary clubs(Toronto, Uxbridge, Etobicoke, and Sarnia), a family foundation, an artist and an anonymous donor, along with Nestantaga themselves, monies were raised to build a playground.  Another one is planned if additional monies are raised by spring.  Please contact us should you be able to donate towards the 2nd playground.  Great news for the community children as they will learn necessary skills and all of the children can have wonderful playtime.  Thank you!
  •  The Rotary Club of Toronto has agreed to provide $3,500 towards the Imagination Library in Sandy Lake First Nation Reserve in Northern Ontario.  Books are mailed to childrens' homes every month from birth to age five.  With over 940,000 children in the program this donation will increase literacy and provide a joy of reading for the children.  As well, the club has agreed to provide guest speakers certificates with a donation each in the amount of $500 towards the Library.
  • Rotary Club of Scarborough/Kids Against Hunger Canada - more than 14,000 hot meals will be enjoyed by Sandy Lake First Nation reserve residents next year thanks to these organizations who recently donated funds and packed meals for delivery in a few weeks.  Please read the entire story on our blog.
  • Thank you from Nesktantaga

Chief Moonias of the remote First Nation of Nesktantaga made a presentation to the Aboriginal Service Committee in June 2014.  He described the condition in his community that led to an epidemic of suicide.  In consultation with Chief and Council, a donation of 20 tablet computers was requested in partnership with One Laptop per Child.  Below is an excerpt from a letter of thanks written by the Principal of the Nesktantaga Education Centre.

"We are indeed grateful to teh organizations for their wonderful support.  The students are heavily engaged in using the devices, and have been observed lying on the carpet or sitting at their desk watching educational videos, being engaged in science experiments, learning their times tables, or simply chatting with each other using the computers.  They also like to read the many books that are available to choose from, take pictures, and learn to play the piano/guitar while singing the musical scale.

The use of the machines not only seems to promote autonomous learning amongst our students from JK to Grade 8, but the children are enthused that they have a device that can stimulate their natural curiosity and learn a variety of educational information using their ingenuity.  Certainly, they have made a huge difference in the lives of our students here at NEC".

  •  Indigenous community, Nesktantaga and its education centre will be receiving 20 XO tablets and 8 XO laptops on October 15, 2014 through One Laptop Per Child.   More information will be provided once delivery has taken place.  Watch for an update.


  • New Tablets Spark Greater Student Engagement in Remote Indigenous Communities

Webequie, a community north of Thunder Bay has no permanent roads to this isolated, fly-in community, but the students at the local public school are more connected than ever, thanks to new tablets from One Laptop Per Child Canada.

Marilyn Braunberger, principal of Simon Jacob Memorial Education Centre in Webequie, says all students are becoming more engaged, even though teachers have only had a short time to teach using the tablets.

"Students think they're just playing and don't realize they are learning," she tells Leaders and Legacies.  As an example, she says some students have trouble staying on task. But after they have completed a few questions or a small task, they are then given the opportunity to play a pre-approved, teacher-selected game on the tablet. The games that are pre-approved by the teacher always help reinforce particular skills. This approach has increased student motivation.

"In some of the higher grades, students are writing their journals" on the tablets. "Many find this more comfortable for writing and some reluctant writers have become more engaged," she says.

Braunberger notes that students are interacting with each other more, too, which means the tablets are spurring collaboration. "They enjoy helping each other, offering suggestions and looking at the accomplishments of their classmates."

The Webequie community is one of 10 remote communities that have benefited recently after 400 customized tablets were delivered, thanks to a partnership between One Laptop per Child Canada (OLPC) and TD Bank Group. The tablets were distributed to Frontier College Aboriginal Literacy Summer Camp participants in remote communities in Ontario, Quebec and Nunavut.

Last month, the tablets started to be integrated into community classrooms, with up to 1,200 Aboriginal youth benefiting from the initiative.

Braunberger says teachers are still realizing the tablets' potential.

"But they are really excited about the possibilities. One teacher told me she is planning a media literacy unit" using the tablets, says Braunberger.

"The idea is still developing, but because the tablets are so user friendly – easy to navigate, and easy to manage for little hands — the possibilities are astounding."

At Simon Jacob Memorial Education Centre in Webequie, they have divided the tablets equally among Grades 1-8 (about 5-6 tablets per class) and teachers are using them as part of their centres, or basing their use on need, such as for journal writing. Teachers are encouraged to borrow from each other if they want to use them for whole class instruction, says Braunberger.

About 113 km from Fort Frances, Ontario, between Lake of the Woods and Crow Lake, is the oldest First Nations School in Canada. Located on the Ojibways of Onigaming First Nation, Mikinaak Onigaming Elementary School serves the needs of elementary students.

Teacher Julie McQuaker says many students have commented on the fact that they like they can pick a specific subject that they like and then concentrate on that when they use the tablets.

"One young boy told me, 'I liked the maze game because it is challenging — and I like a good challenge even though I got frustrated.'"

McQuaker says that, from a teacher perspective, she likes that it is full of educational options for when students have completed work ahead of time or have extra time.

The teacher says at this time there are 16 students who are currently using the tablets at the Grade 1 and 2 level. OLPC Canada tablets come with dozens of pre-installed educational apps for skill development in areas such as financial literacy, health, math, science and languages. Each tablet also features a library of more than 100 e-books including children's stories by First Nations, Métis and Inuit authors.

Since launching in 2010, OLPC Canada has provided more than 5000 laptops and tablets to youth in eight provinces and two territories.

  • The Wawahte Book Project will deliver on October 15, 2014, 20 Wawahte Educational Book packages to Toronto District Catholic Secondary schools.  Kingston friends made this beginning of the project possible.  Personal reconciliation involvement to promote teacher/student understanding helps to create youth awareness of Indigenous peoples and issues that affect First Nations and Canada - is good!  The cover letter with stationery will include the HIP logo providing Rotary/HIP due credit.  The letter shall be placed in the individual packages of three books and one audiobook going to each school.  It is hoped that the remaining 113 schools will be delivered by the first part of the school year.


  • The Past President of The Rotary Club of Toronto, Neil Phillips was asked to find a home for 12,000 newborn diapers (12 skids) that were going to be disposed of due to a change in packaging design by the manufacturer. Shortly after, an inquiry went out to try to find a home for this valuable and cherished item and Taunya Pacquette of Native Child & Family Services of Toronto was able to place the entire donation!  Native Child and Family Services of Toronto will use 6 palettes for their downtown location and 6 palettes are to go to the Scarbough Child and Family Life Centre.  The diapers will be given to many clients, women's and children's transition houses, home visits and office visits and other agencies will be made aware of the item as well.  Thanks to Neil and Taunya for their great work!!!


  • The Write to Read Project( which is a joint partnership between Government House(Foundation), Rotary and corporate partners in BC. will be opening their 9th library in an aboriginal community on September 15th, 2014 attended by the Earl and Countess of Wessex(Prince Edward and Sophie).  The North Delta Rotary Club has adopted the community and have worked with them to renovate an older building which is in excellent shape to put in a new community library.  Write to Read opened their first library in 2011 in Toosey and are now in the planning stages of opening 10 more libraries throughout the province of BC.  The relationships and trust that have been built have gone beyond their initial expectations.  It is felt that the libraries are a foot in the door in our reaching out to first nation communities.  As a consequence, a partnership has been struck with the University of BC, Faculty of Dentristy and the Dental Mission Project Society that have held dental clinics on Vancouver Island and in the interior of BC. over the past 5 years and have conducted 9 dental clinics with succes.  Now when volunteer dental students are needed, they have to do a lottery to decide who comes!  As well, another partnership has also been struck with the BC Corrections Service.  Two facilities have agreed to build furniture for libraries and Rotary will provide the materials.  It is hoped that First Nation inmates will help build the furniture.  A few of the libraries will have a place in new schools and become community libraries with computers and internet service.  Two examples are Lax Kwalaams and Anaham.   Well done!


  • The Rotary Club of Collingwood Georgian Bay is partnering with Elephant Thoughts – a Collingwood-based charitable organization to delivering science-based programs in several fly-in communities in northern Ontario including Attawapaskat, Kichenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug and Fort Albany.  This project includes providing teacher kits and volunteer teachers.  Elephant Thoughts has received a number of awards for their innovative educational work most recently:  

    Supporting Shubenacadie First Nation’s innovative approach to involving parents and the community at large in a quality education of its students at the L’nu Sipuk Kina’moukuom (LSK) School (K4-12).  With the assistance of a team of teachers and professional educators for two months, this demonstrates the faith in the school’s student-focussed, community-based education programming, enhances the learning experience for students and involvement of parents and demonstrates the school’s tremendous value to the community.  Elephant Thoughts’ outreach services, which include fun, hands-on-learning resources, will begin Monday, April 28th and continue until the school year concludes in June.

 For more information on Elephant Thoughts please visit


  • The Rotary Club of Toronto, in partnership with Toronto’s First Nations public school, has organized on several Career Days.  Rotarians from a number of areas including chiropractic medicine, investment, catering and communications spoke with the children about career possibilities that they probably had not considered.  The club also answered an urgent call for backpacks for the school’s students, donating more than 100 within 48 hours.
  • The club is partnering with Native Child & Family Services of Toronto in developing and finalizing a high school equivalency GED program in Scarborough.  This program helps young people who have dropped out of school obtain an equivalent to secondary school education. 
  • The club in the last year has invited Mr. Justice Murray Sinclair, John Ralston Saul and Tom Sanderson address us on indigenous peoples’ issues.