Before you give, do some homework and look into the charity you are supporting. Here are a few things to look for;
Are they a registered charity?
How are they using the donations to benefit the communities they are serving?
Are they accountable?
True North Aid is the first charity listed by the Globe and Mail when talking about how to help the people of Attawapiskat.
This organization was started in 2009 to answer the challenging needs of our Indigenous communities in Canada much before
crisis situations in the north drew national attention and before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission completed its work.
True North Aid continues to spearhead a number of successful projects to support the critical needs of our First Peoples and
help reduce the poverty gap that exists between them and the rest of Canada. We have lots of work to do. We need — and
appreciate — your support. Find out how you can help!
Here are several organizations:
Downie-Wenjack Fund was started by Gord Downie. It propagates the Chanie Wenjack story and encourages schools, businesses and
the corporate sector to answer Gord Downie’s call to action for reconciliation.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Indigenous Housing Partnership partners with Indigenous families and communities to help create safe and decent places to live through affordable homeownership. To make this program sustainable in the Indigenous communities we partner with, we also provide skills and training opportunities to Indigenous youth and women to equip them with the trade skills they need to maintain and/or build new homes in their communities. To learn more about our Indigenous Housing Partnership, please visit www.habitat.ca/ihp.
Honouring Indigenous Peoples
Honouring Indigenous Peoples is a Rotarian organization created in partnership and consultation with indigenous people.
It honours indigenous people by supporting educational efforts and encouraging all Canadians to be aware of indigenous issues,
history and culture, guided by the initial treaties.
Helping Our Northern Neighbours
Helping Our Northern Neighbours was born in July of 2014 after it was discovered that prices for food and other goods in Northern Canada were
unbelievably high when compared to their counterparts in the south. They are an organization that forms partnerships with those in the north
to try to give them a hand up and support and encourage the development of local initiatives to assist the people while we and others work
toward bringing awareness to the conditions that exist and until a permanent solution can be found and implemented.
I Love First Peoples
I Love First Peoples empowers Indigenous children and youth to succeed through education and the motivation to stay in school. We bridge
communities through practical projects that promote reconciliation and education. Through our celebrity platform, we also raise awareness
about reconciliation across Canada and around the globe.
Indigenous Neighbours Program
Indigenous Neighbours Program strives to build respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people by: 1. Teaching Mennonite
constituents on Indigenous history, rights and issues using workshops, speaking engagements, publications and online resources. 2. Facilitating
opportunities for MCC constituents and Indigenous partners to build respectful relationships. 3. Collaborating with Indigenous partners on advocacy
to promote positive political, social and economic change for Indigenous Peoples. 4. Providing opportunities for international exchanges between
Indigenous people. In all programs we partner with Indigenous people, relying on their knowledge to guide our work.
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami is a national representational organization protecting and advancing the rights and interests of Inuit living in Canada as well as working to improve their health and wellbeing.
NotJustTourists is a not-for-profit Canadian organization that encourages tourists to take a suitcase of donated medical supplies with them to the places they travel.
There are chapters throughout Canada and they have delivered over 10,000 suitcases to 82 countries around the world, including communities in northern Canada.
Indigenous Awareness Canada
Indigenous Awareness Canada offers Online Indigenous Awareness Training and facilitates in-person workshops. Their mission is to assist you, and all Canadians, to learn about Canada’s Indigenous People and to help non-indigenous Canadians and Indigenous peoples move toward reconciliation. They offer Indigenous Awareness Certification and Training approved by employers across Canada. Beyond Indigenous awareness training, Indigenous Awareness Canada can help you succeed with your organization’s needs for meaningful Indigenous Consultation and successful Outreaching, Recruitment, and Retention of Indigenous employees.
Circles for Reconciliation
Circles For Reconciliation is to establish trusting, meaningful relationships between Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples as part of the 94 Calls to Action from the
Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The means to achieve this will be the establishment of small grassroots gatherings of Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples in discussion circles.
Sew on Fire
Sew On Fire has worked on a great number of aid projects to help first nations communities across the country. We have worked with them to bring 400 diaper bags to the birthing centre
in Iqaluit, NU and there will be more projects in the future.
People focused on the value of education may be interested in donating to Indspire. This organization helps Indigenous students in Canada complete their post-secondary education for a successful future.
Canadian Roots Exchange
CRE is a superb organization with which we feel a great affinity. Roots Exchange is the work of people impassioned to create relationships, through a kind of
exchange program between indigenous youth and non-indigenous youth. Non-Indigenous Canadian youth have the chance to live life on the reserves to see beyond media
images (mostly negative) and learn about the richness of life among our aboriginal peoples. As quoted in “What It’s Like To Live On A Reserve,” Max Fineday says this
organization is “about building that first meaningful friendship with one another, which is what this nation was founded on — friendship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
people — that somewhere along the way Canada forgot.” He adds, “People in my parents’ generation are beginning to understand they were robbed of the opportunity to learn about
indigenous peoples and see them as more than just poor people with needs.”
NOTE: This list is only partial. If you are approached by a charity not on this list (for a donation, specifically) be sure to check that they are registered, and look into their background as much as you can.
Joining the Potlatch
Donating money to first nations people is laudable. Everyone involved is thankful for your concern. It’s just as important to remember first and foremost the dignity of the people whom we think we are helping. It is better for people to think of the Potlatch, a First Nations’ tradition of sharing wealth with each other and exchanging what we have to share.
A word on government support
You can donate directly to some aboriginal communities who have established charities of their own. Private funding does not interfere with government funding in any way. In many cases, private charities like those listed above are the only ones helping our First Peoples. Many Canadians feel that it is the government’s responsibility to “take care of” our Indigenous peoples but the past 150 years has proven this to be very ineffective.
It should be obvious to anyone who reads the news that government help is not the solution. Government help is often only a stopgap or a bandaid. There are still too many youth and teen suicides. Self-determination and self-governance are key to reducing the poverty gap of 60% of on-reserve First Nation children living in poverty. Many families in our northern communities live in overcrowded conditions, with unsafe water and too little food. There remains fundamental disparities in educational outcomes for Indigenous youth. None of those issues have been alleviated through decades of government help which often have many strings attached. We must do what we can to empower one another to live healthy, prosperous and hopeful lives. The work must be undertaken by all of Canadians from all walks of life, we all have a responsibility!