Supporting truth and reconciliation

The Winnipeg Foundation

Photo: Committee Chair Patricia Mainville addresses the cohort of Reconciliation Grants recipients.

Overwhelming community response to Reconciliation Grants.

By Patricia Mainville, Reconciliation Grants Committee Chair

Reconciliation Grants cohort
The Reconciliation Grants cohort at The Foundation’s 2018 Annual Celebration at Neeginan Centre this past January.

In January 2018, The Winnipeg Foundation announced an investment of $1 million in a one-time call for proposals for projects that support reconciliation.

This new grant stream was in response to some of the findings in the 2017 Vital Signs® report, which identified reconciliation as a key priority for Winnipeggers. Since then, we’ve been inspired by the many conversations with organizations that have identified this as a priority.

Early into 2018 I was able to convene and chair an Advisory Committee of Indigenous community leaders. The members of the Advisory Committee included Vania Gagnon, Rob Gendron, Dr. Trisha Logan, Rob Riel and Roxanne Shuttleworth. In addition, Leah Gazan, Steven Greyeyes and Sharon Parenteau helped guide the development of the program.

The Advisory Committee created the policies and guidelines for the Reconciliation Grants program, identifying both the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – better known as UNDRIP – and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action, as key documents for organizations to understand when applying for a Reconciliation Grant. Groups could apply for up to $100,000, for projects of up to three years.

The grant guidelines were released in June 2018, first to a small group of Indigenous-led organizations, then more broadly to the community. We hosted information sessions for prospective applicant organizations in September. And the grant application process closed in October 2018.

We received an overwhelming response, 82 applications with requests totalling more than $6.4 million! With support from Foundation staff, the Advisory Committee reviewed all the proposals and identified 20 projects recommended for support. In addition to The Foundation’s $1 million commitment, our generous community stepped up to contribute an additional $323,000.

Three key priorities help identify the successful applications: a commitment to reconciliation and how applicants interpreted the Calls to Action and UNDRIP; the breadth of the project – how many people will be impacted by the project as well as the diversity of those impacted; and longevity – the long-term impact of a proposed project.

We will also be exploring different ways for organizations to report on their projects, whether through visual media, storytelling or other means, and to bring the successful applicants together to share ideas and best practices.

Through this process, we were able to see the vast continuum along which each charity that applied for funding currently sits – a journey of truth before reconciliation. We are looking forward to watching the projects unfold and discovering how they contribute to advancing reconciliation across our city.


Recipient: Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art
Program: Educational resources on the history of Indigenous women artists in Canada
Grant: $79,600 Reconciliation Grant

Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art – better known as MAWA – received a Reconciliation Grant to create two art education tools. The first is a textbook for senior high school and university students about the history of Indigenous women in Canada, written by Mohawk writer and curator Anne Martin and illustrated by contemporary female Indigenous artists.

MAWA is also creating a teaching guide along with 50 artistic images by Indigenous women artists, with quotes detailing why each artist created their works. The guide will be in both English and French and will be distributed to every public school in Winnipeg at all levels.

“It’s important that we know history from multiple points of view so we can get an accurate picture of the past,” says Shawna Dempsey, Co-Executive Director of MAWA. “Many of us grew up with strictly a colonial perspective and we now know how inaccurate that was, and how misrepresenting that was, for all peoples.”

“We have such a wealth of creative talent in Canada that reflects the experiences of all Canadians, and we want to put those art images into public schools so kids can engage with them, talk about the issues embodied in those artworks, and feel pride in Canadian artists. Indigenous kids can feel pride in Indigenous art and can see themselves in the artwork and think ‘Wow look at what our culture creates.’”


Recipient: Westworth United Church
Program: Interfaith workshops on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action
Grant: $800 Reconciliation Grant

For the past five years, Westworth United Church has held an interfaith dialogue between Christianity and many other faith communities. This year, they’re continuing these conversations, focused on truth and reconciliation.

“Traditionally the United Church of Canada and its predecessors was one of the churches that ran the residential schools,” says Reverend Lorraine Mackenzie Shepherd, the Minister at Westword United Church. “So, we personally have much work to do in acknowledging some of the harm that we caused, and I have a responsibility to listen and work with the traditional Elders and Indigenous teachers to make reparations where possible and work towards reconciliation.”

The Reconciliation Grant will support four sessions in four different faith communities, and the speaker for each session will be from a different faith community. This initiative will bring together people from all different faiths: Buddhism, Islamic, Christianity, Judaism, and more, to discuss their approaches to reconciliation. Each session will have both a speaker and an Indigenous Elder response.


Recipient: Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources
Program: Multi-media sharing of reconciliation and decision-making among local chiefs, reeves and mayors
Grant: $98,900 Reconciliation Grant

The Centre for Indigenous Environmental Resources (CIER) is embarking on a two-year project to help Indigenous governments and municipal governments work together more efficiently and harmoniously. Twenty-five leaders are being brought together for four meetings to make new connections and repair relationships; CIER is convening and reporting on the meetings.

“Given our history and the fact these leaders have never been in the same room together in 150 years, we’ve never had a meeting like this of Indigenous and non-Indigenous governments,” says Merrel-Anne Fehr, Executive Director of CIER. “To communicate this to Winnipeggers, the chiefs, mayors, and reeves really want to share the fact that reconciliation, and the process of getting to know each other is important. It’s work. It’s fascinating. There’s bumps along the road, but it can be done.”

Through its Reconciliation Grant, CIER will tell these stories and share the meetings and their outcomes with Winnipeg and the surrounding territories using videos, social media platforms, and podcasting.


Recipient: Ka Ni Kanichihk
Program: The Butterfly Club
Grant: $100,000 Reconciliation Grant

The Butterfly Club is a year-long project where girls and two-spirit Indigenous youth, ages 9 to 13, can learn about reconciliation through various activities. Youth are encouraged to discuss how reconciliation could look in Winnipeg, and how it might look for Indigenous girls and two-spirit youth.

A focus of the Butterfly Club is leadership. Through programming, youth are provided the opportunity to be leaders while repairing relationships through reconciliation.

The Butterfly Club believes that youth currently are leaders in our community. By providing teachings and activities in Indigenous cultural reclamation, environmental stewardship, self-development and community involvement, youth will be poised to be even greater leaders for tomorrow.

“Our youth have so much knowledge. They already have so many leadership skills,” says Shannon Tara Kraichy, Butterfly Club Coordinator. “All we’re doing is helping them practice and realize they do have these skills.”


Recipient: Seven Oaks School Division
Program: Blue Thunderbird Land-Based Teachings Learning Centre
Grant: $100,000 Reconciliation Grant

The Blue Thunderbird Land-Based Teachings Learning Centre aims to give high school-aged students, teachers, and the general public the opportunity to rebuild relationships with the land. An initiative of Seven Oaks School Division, the 49 acres in West St. Paul will become a place to reconnect with the environment while learning about reconciliation, land-stewardship, and food production. The project will launch in spring 2019.

“Once we understand our history, we have a better understanding of how we are all unique, but also how we are very much the same,” says Alexis Nazaravich, Program Developer for Seven Oaks School Division. “Youth these days are growing up in a time where we are talking about our history, and our shared history is a very difficult story to tell, but we’re talking about the difficulty. I think that’s a great challenge, and a great opportunity, for youth to understand how relationships are shaped in society.”


This story is featured in the Spring 2019 issue of our Working Together magazine. Download or view the full issue on our Publications page.

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