Aboriginal Service Committee - Our Mandate

The committee is responsible for the consideration of and for making recommendations to the Club Board concerning ways in which the Club can effectively respond to the needs of Canada’s First Nations people.

Indigenous Service Committee - Annual Report 2016 - 2017- Bill Empey
In its 94 Calls to Action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on Canadians, individually and corporately, to engage in reconciliation with indigenous people. This challenge lies at the heart of the Indigenous Service Committee’s work.
This year, we requested support from The Rotary Club of Toronto Charitable Foundation for the Save the Evidence project of the Woodland Cultural Centre in Brantford, Ont. The project supports the restoration of the former Mohawk Institute Indian Residential School building, the first of Canada’s residential schools and one of the few left standing.
The restoration project contains a large educational component. The committee requested financial support for a videos project that will record the testimony of those who attended the school and endured conditions that ranged from malnutrition and medical experimentation to physical abuse and cultural deprivation. The video will be seen by visitors to the restored Mohawk Institute, as well as students in the Brantford region and across the GTA. The Foundation awarded $40,250 to the project.
One of the Indigenous Service Committee’s longtime partnerships is with Native Child and Family Services of Toronto. This year the committee donated $5,000 toward NCFST’s Here on Turtle’s Back art program, which provides new and emerging indigenous youth artists with access to a free monthly workshop series rooted in indigenous knowledge and artistic practices.
The committee also supported another arts program. For some years, the Kivalliq Inuit Association has been holding two-week summer arts camps for Inuit students, first in Rankin Inlet and, last year, in Whale Cove. About 20 students attend the camp, and some previous attendees have enrolled in post-secondary arts courses. Our donation of $1,000 will go toward purchasing arts supplies for the camps.
Another longtime partnership has been with First Nations elementary school. Over the years we have helped support the lunch program, provided equipment for special needs students and organized Career Days. This year the school moved into new premises and took its first steps toward becoming an elementary and high school with the introduction of Grade 9 in September.
The walls of the school’s old premises were hung with highly colorful indigenous artwork, much of it done by the students. Now, faced with pristine walls in their new building, the students wanted to paint a large mural. The Indigenous Service Committee was happy to help out, donating money for the paint and other supplies.
The Indigenous Service Committee believes strongly that our reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous people must start with children and youth, providing them with the means to lead fruitful and happy lives.