Essay submitted by Sky Bridges
CEO, The Winnipeg Foundation
The Greek word “philanthropy” is defined as “love for humankind.”
Philanthropy is also a call to action and involvement, for the purpose of lifting a community and benefiting people you don’t personally know. When we give, it changes who we are inside, and we recognize we are part of a greater community. We become connected to who we are and what matters most to us.
Being part of a community also involves caring for future generations. Today we benefit from those generations, both past and present, who helped create The Winnipeg Foundation. By giving through The Winnipeg Foundation, we are choosing to come together to build a better future for the generations of tomorrow.
For many Indigenous cultures the actions of today impact seven generations into the future. The symbol often used to represent this concept is the circle, because it has no beginning and no end; it is infinite, and it is forever.
As a young Indigenous man, an elder once shared a teaching with me. She said, “Imagine that you’re sitting in the centre of a tipi. While looking at the poles around you, name a faith and a culture for each pole and continue until you can’t name anymore.”
When I was done, she said, “Now look up and notice how the poles are connected at the top of the tipi.”
This teaching showed me that when we come together, we are strong.
When I think about The Winnipeg Foundation’s tagline For Good. Forever. I think about the circle in the tipi and the elder’s teaching that we are all united as a community. We as individuals can take action to expand the circle and recognize it represents the inclusion of all.
We are living through a time when calls for racial justice have risen to levels not heard in decades. To achieve reconciliation – with Indigenous communities, and with all Peoples of Colour – we must first spend time discovering truth and understanding. Healing requires courage that each individual must be willing to discover, in order to deal with the uncomfortable truths of the past. It is in those truths where we will we find the path to reconciliation, compassion, and moving forward.
Community foundations are established to be inclusive and reflective of the community they serve. A community is made up of many smaller groups, which can be based on culture and interests; ancestry, ethnic background or origin; religion or beliefs; gender identity, sex or sexual orientation; age; marital or family structure; physical or mental ability; socio-economic or technological status; and countless others. We must be reflective of our community and ensure we listen to those groups we serve.
To some, For Good. Forever., may be hard to imagine. When we come together as a community, what matters is the journey and not the destination. When we take action and come together to make Winnipeg a better place for all, it is forever.
In 100 years, thanks to philanthropy, I hope our idea of community is that of a circle that unifies all of humanity and collectively we celebrate our differences.
Sky Bridges assumed the position of CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation April 27, 2021 – the first day of the community foundation’s second century.
Prior to joining The Foundation, Sky held the position of Chief Operating Officer at the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). He was the creator of Indigenous Day Live, APTN’s premier celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day. Sky has held diverse positions in the broadcast industry, covering both the private sector with PrideVision TV and the public sector with the CBC. He has also served as Vice-President of Business Development at the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
Sky has a passion for volunteering for organizations that build stronger communities. He has served on the following Boards: Winnipeg Folk Festival, United Way Winnipeg, It Gets Better Canada, Travel Manitoba, Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Association, Casera Credit Union, Manitoba 150, and CARAS/MusiCounts.
Sky identifies as Two-Spirit. He is Métis with a Cree and Blackfoot bloodline. He was born in Winnipeg and raised in Marquette, Man. He is a graduate of Red River College where he completed a Diploma in Business Administration and an Advanced Diploma in International Business.