Indigenous-Focused Philanthropy

Indigenous-Focused Philanthropy

In 2002 Cindy Blackstock wrote a seminal paper1 documenting a pervasive and regrettable lack of engagement between First Nations and Canada’s voluntary sector.

Taking this as our starting point, the Foundation worked with the organization that Cindy leads—the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada—to develop Caring Across Boundaries, a cross cultural curriculum designed to forge partnerships between on-reserve child and family serving agencies and voluntary sector organizations. 

Today, a principal focus of our granting is Indigenous youth—the fastest growing segment of Canada’s population. Unfortunately, the lack of high quality, culturally relevant education in many Indigenous schools perpetuates a cycle of failure and poverty for many young people.

The collective effort needed to address this problem begins with raising awareness, and continues with deliberate and considerate action and innovation in partnership with Indigenous communities and others.

Here is a selection of current and recent grants and initiatives:

The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
The Foundation is a founding member and supporter of The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (The Circle), an open network that promotes philanthropic partnerships with Indigenous organizations across Canada.

Wapikoni mobile
A 2012 Foundation grant to Wapikoni Mobile supports the scaling up of its mobile music and video production program with Indigenous communities outside of Quebec.

Changemakers Competition: Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning, which launched October 2011, is an initiative of Ashoka Canada, Indigenous organizations, and several foundation partners. The competition solicited innovative projects and ideas and attracted 266 entries, 30 of which took home a share of $90,000 in prizes. Award winners were announced March 2012 and celebrated at a national summit in Gatineau from April 16-18, 2012.

Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative: Promising Practices Website
The Foundation supports this on-line clearinghouse whose purpose is to foster the exchange of promising classroom practices and research. 

Free the Children: Aboriginal Education Campaign
A Foundation grant to Free the Children (FTC) supports outreach to non-Indigenous youth about living conditions in Indigenous communities, and shortcomings affecting Indigenous schools. Nine hundred non-Indigenous schools are now using the materials produced by FTC, while their signature We Day events involve over 60,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth annually.

Dechinta: Bush University Centre for Research and Learning
In 2011 and 2012, the Foundation provided support to Dechinta: Bush University Centre for Research and Learning, a northern-led initiative delivering land-based, university credited educational experiences co-led by northern leaders, elders, and professors from partner universities in the south.

Active Circle – Motivate Canada
In 2007 the Foundation funded the Active Circle program (through Motivate Canada) to support community sport programs in 40 Indigenous communities.

In addition to these specific grants, several Foundation initiatives, such as ArtsSmarts and Respite for Family Caregivers, supported Indigenous projects and communities. 


  1. Same country: Same lands; 78 Countries Away by Cindy Blackstock from The First Peoples Child & Family Review: Volume 2, Issue 1 (2005)
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