Canada 150 funding helps Hamiltonians be the face of change

Sandi Bell is one of the allies declaring their commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation commission’s calls to action

Canada’s history when it comes to Indigenous people is nothing to be celebrated, but an HCF grant is working to help Hamiltonians heal and move forward together.

In partnership with the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, HCF is supporting 43 wide-ranging projects across Hamilton that inspire understanding, build healthy communities and engage a broad and diverse group of people.

“I Am Committed” is a campaign co-led by YÉN:TENE—the Indigenous justice initiative of the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic—and the Professional Aboriginal Advocacy and Networking Group. It will help celebrate Canada’s 150 PLUS, the Indigenous-led reimagining of Canada’s sesquicentennial.

I Am Committed asks friends and allies of Indigenous people—some well-known and others not—to have their snapshot published as a symbol of their commitment to the calls to action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report.

“We don’t want people to just read the report,” says Indigenous justice coordinator, Lyndon George. “We want them to put it into play in their everyday personal and professional lives.”

Photos will appear on posters, banners and the web. Content will be shared in English, French and Mohawk. Organizers hope newcomers, as well as people whose families have been in Canada for generations, will step forward to make a commitment. “Broken promises and abuse are part of our shared history,” Lyndon says. “A move to reconciliation must happen together, nation to nation.” YÉN:TENE, in fact, is Mohawk for “You and I will go there together.”

You might see Sandi Bell’s face on a poster. Her Indigenous heritage was lost when she was adopted. “I didn’t grow up with my traditions,” she says. “The Black part of me, the Canadian part of me is definitely an ally.” As chair of the legal clinic, she expects the diverse faces of the campaign to inspire people to listen, learn and join in, across Hamilton and beyond.

I Am Committed follows the model used in YÉN:TENE’s successful I Am Affected campaign, which used photos of Indigenous people to start conversations about the intergenerational trauma caused by Canada’s residential schools.

“This project is all about belonging,” Sandi says. “It’s about Indigenous people belonging in Hamilton and being free to follow their dreams. And it’s about the residents of Hamilton coming together to make sure people belong.”


Excerpt from 2017 Annual Report