Future Intended: Celebrating Indigenous communities

To mark Indigenous History Month and Indigenous Peoples Day we’re highlighting HCF-supported projects that leverage Indigenous knowledge, experiences and communities in Hamilton.

  • McMaster Indigenous Research Institute
    From Indigenous research reform to innovative interdisciplinary research and knowledge translation, the McMaster Indigenous Research Institute (MIRI) is one of the only institutes in Canada dedicated to study that centres Indigenous ways of knowing as valid scientific knowledge. Read more here.
  • Reconciliation through music
    Intercultural understanding, empathy and mutual respect are laid out in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. Through this music-based program from Métis Women’s Circle, kids at Hess Street School experience traditional Metis dancing, singing, drumming and teachings over an eight-week period, a wonderful example of reconciliation in action.
  • NYA:WEH Elementary
    NYA:WEH Elementary, co-ordinated by Niwasa Head Start, engages and supports First Nation, Métis and Inuit students in Grades 6, 7 and 8. Students are encouraged to smudge, sing, bead, talk or drum and can re-engage with NYA:WEH at the secondary school level once they’ve graduated.
  • Endaayang Knowledge Keeper
    Endaayang, which translates to “our home” in Ojibwa, is an initiative of the Hamilton Regional Indian Centre that gives housing support to Indigenous youths at risk of homelessness. A key component of the program is connecting youths with their culture through elders who serve as “knowledge keepers”. Read coverage of the program in the Hamilton Spectator here.
  • Strawberry Thunder Festival
    The first annual Strawberry Thunder Festival is a multicultural celebration that took place earlier this month and featured Indigenous singing, drumming and crafts. We’re proud to support this community celebration from Keith Neighbourhood Community Hub.

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, the environment and more.

Future Intended: #HamiltonVitalSigns

Our 2018 Hamilton Vital Signs report is out now! In this special edition of Future Intended, we highlight some new key Hamilton stats from the report alongside some recent projects we support that relate to the issue.

“According to the Canadian Community Health Survey, 14.8% of Hamiltonians reported experiencing some food insecurity in the last year. Additionally, 4.2% reported severe food insecurity, which means reduced food intake, skipping meals, and disrupted eating patterns.” (from Low Income)

Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security
Advancing food security is the mission of the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security. It does so at a local level by partnering with organizations that help address problems like availability of healthy food. In Hamilton, we’re proud to support McQuesten Urban Farm in providing affordable fresh produce in the neighbourhood’s “food desert”.

“While women make up just over half the population they were under-represented in every sector ranging from a low of 14%in corporate boards to 47% in the voluntary sector. Visible minorities make up 19% of Hamiltonians but in leadership positions occupy a range of 11% to almost none across sectors.” (from Citizens and Engagement)

DiverseCity OnBoard
This program connects under-represented groups like women, visible minorities, and Indigenous people with board governance opportunities. DiverseCity OnBoard is a national program and we’re proud to support it locally via Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion.

“Less than half (46%) of Hamilton youth, 12-17, reported being active for the recommended daily 60 minutes, significantly below the 60% provincial and national averages.” (from Health and Well-Being)

Empowerment Squared youth soccer league
Empowerment Squared helps newcomer and marginalized youth get access to sports and recreational activities with its soccer league that address financial barriers to sports participation. Through team building and leaderships skills development youth stay active and have fun.

“In 2016, there were 2,205 artists living in Hamilton – a 31% increase from 1,680 in 2006.” (from Arts and Culture)


The Artistic Leadership and Entrepreneurial Training Program (ALERT) at Hamilton Festival Theatre Company helps emerging artists develop the skills needed for theatrical production including curation, publicity, financial management and technical coordination. Last year’s participants were key in producing the hugely successful Frost Bites Festival this past winter.

“In Hamilton there are just over 200km of designated bike lanes, an increase of 130km since 2007.” (from Getting Around)

Friendly Streets Hamilton
Cycle Hamilton and Environment Hamilton want to make Hamilton streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists. With a pilot that started in the area around General Hospital, the program has expanded to engage community stakeholders in Beasley, Keith, and Gibson-Landsdale neighbourhoods. This toolkit is a great way to learn more.

Read the Hamilton Vital Signs 2018 report and share your thoughts on social media using #HamiltonVitalSigns. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and start a conversation! When you’ve read the report please fill out our short survey.

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, the environment and more.

Future Intended: Supporting a greener Hamilton

It’s Earth Week! To celebrate, we want to tell you about some great local programs and organizations we support that help protect the environment in different ways including land conservation, natural stewardship, urban farming, and ecological consideration.

  • Save the Bees!
    Hamilton students are saving the bees! Through a combination of reading material, interactive presentation, a field trip and more, HWDSB’s Save the Bees program teaches kids the importance of honeybees for the health and biodiversity of our local ecology.
  • Pollinators Paradise
    The importance of local plant life to our well-being is at the core of the Pollinator’s Paradise project, a collaborate initiative of Environment Hamilton and Hamilton Naturalists’ Club. The goal of this project is to work with community members to create an uninterrupted pollinator corridor across the city.
  • Bruce Trail Conservancy
    With its main trail stretching 890km and more than 400km of side trails, the Bruce Trail is Canada’s oldest and longest marked footpath – and the Bruce Trail Conservancy stewards it for our collective enjoyment (the Iroquoia Section runs through Hamilton). We’re proud to give continued support to BTC as it works to preserve this beautiful “ribbon of wilderness” in Southern Ontario. 
  • Edible Garden Club
    This great program, an initiative of Green Venture, gets youth excited about learning how to grow their own healthy food. Activities include growing from seed, vermicomposting and aquaponics farming.
  • Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark
    This natural corridor in the Hamilton-Burlington area now protects over 1,500 species of birds, trees, plants and wildlife. We’re proud to be one of ten project partners working to ensure this 4,700 acre area stays protected forever. Check out our story on the purchase of two key properties in the Dundas Valley in 2016.


Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, STEM and more.

Future Intended: Hamilton has art in its heart

The arts have become a major facet of Hamilton’s rejuvenation. Art – in one form or another — is also important for a thriving community. From the perspective of a community foundation this means support for programs with a variety of objectives including access to the arts, art appreciation, and more. Here are a few recent and forthcoming arts programs we’re proud to support in our city.

  • Pathways Photostory Project
    Finding your way into an arts career is no easy task – and this difficulty can be compounded by income inequality. That’s where community partners North Hamilton Community Health Centre and CreatOf Studios are stepping in with a project that helps youth acquire the knowledge and skills they need to explore careers in photography and the arts.
  • Art Spin Hamilton
    Last summer’s Art Spin Hamilton, an event based on a Toronto initiative, brought together two scenes that are bustling in Hamilton – cycling and the arts. The installation of site-specific works in alternative, bike-accessible venues throughout the city allowed Hamiltonians to appreciate works of art while engaging in fun physical activity.
  • AGH film education program
    The AGH has helped make Hamilton a great city for film lovers with the monthly ilovefilm series and the World Film Festival every fall. Now a younger audience can delight in the wonder of cinema thanks to a film education program that guides students through film appreciation. In February, students celebrated Black History Month with a screening of the powerful documentary Unarmed Verses and interactive discussion and performances with Hamilton Youth Poets.
  • My city, my home
    This summer Indigenous youth in Hamilton will have an opportunity to engage with artists in a series of workshops held at Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts in partnership with Hamilton Indian Centre. Activities will include screen-printing t-shirts and posters. Up to 50 youth will get a chance to participate in the workshops.
  • Nurture the Ability through the Arts
    This program at Dundas Valley School of Art offers a series of workshops to people with Down Syndrome in which participants get to experience different forms of art-making culminating in an art showcase. We’re proud to give continuing support to this great program.


Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, STEM and more.

Future Intended: Read all about it!

Reading and writing can be two of life’s greatest joys. Here in Hamilton, recent research suggests that early childhood literacy rates are steadily rising but there’s still room for improvement. At HCF we understand the importance of education (see our ABACUS initiative) and so we’re proud to support local programs, organizations and festivals that not only help build basic literacy skills but also encourage the appreciation of literary arts. Here are just a few.

  • GritLIT Festival 2018

Now in its 14th year, the gritLIT Readers and Writers Festival is a celebration of Canadian literature. The theme this year is “A Place to Belong” and includes events that “celebrate, question and challenge the idea of belonging”. GritLIT takes place from April 12 – 15 this year — check out the full schedule here.

  • Sit! Stay! Read!

This program, a partnership between the Hamilton Public Library and Hamilton-Burlington SPCA, gets reluctant kids to start reading – through the power of puppy love! Trained pet therapy dogs and volunteers help children to read books aloud and further develop their literary skills. The program runs until the end of May 2018.

  • Shakespearience

Actors Colm Feore and Kenneth Branagh are big fans. So is hip-hop artist Drake. And it’s easy to see why. The Shakespearience literacy program demystifies the Elizabethan prose that can perplex young students and gives them the chance to learn Shakespeare from the perspective of actors who perform the Bard’s works. We’re proud to help give hundreds of local students the Shakespearience of a lifetime!

  • Jack Parent reading program

One-on-one tutoring is a great way to help children improve their literacy skills while also building self-confidence. At this Neighbour to Neighbour Centre program  volunteer tutors assist Grades 1-3 students from 14 Hamilton Mountain schools with reading.

  • Running & Reading Club

This club at Start2Finish helps kids keep their minds and bodies fit. Activities — including “word of the day” character-building, circuit training, journaling, and nutritious snacks — encourage youths to develop healthy lifestyles and literacy aptitude. The program culminates with the Start2Finish 5K Running & Reading Challenge and an awards ceremony that recognizes the kids’ achievements.

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, STEM and more.

The Karen and Peter Turkstra Family Foundation Fund

Turkstra Lumber has been operating in Hamilton and South Western Ontario for over 65 years. As active members of their community, Karen and Peter Turkstra sought to give back.

The Karen & Peter Turkstra Family Foundation Fund was established in 2012 to support the charitable giving of their family.  Their prime focus has been on providing donations in the areas of youth, nutrition and education.

Since inception, the Karen & Peter Turkstra Family Foundation Fund has provided over 50 grants to community organizations including: Interval House of Hamilton, Hamilton Food Share, Mission Services of Hamilton, Healthy Community – Healthy Youth Flamborough and Robert Land Community Association amongst many other charities working to make Hamilton a vibrant and inclusive place.

Working with HCF, the Turkstra family are able to use their fund to address unmet needs in the community, now and forever.

Future Intended: Empowering women and girls in Hamilton

At HCF we believe that supporting and empowering women and girls is a crucial element in building a vibrant and inclusive Hamilton. Research undertaken by Women 4 Change demonstrates the impact of gender inequality and suggests that women and girls in our city need additional supports to thrive. Here are some of the latest local projects we support that are directed toward this effort.

  • Syrian Girls Leadership and Integration March Break Camp

The teenage years are a crucial time of physical, emotional, spiritual and social development for young girls. Transitioning to a new culture can be especially challenging in this context. A free program from YWCA provides young girls who have fled Syria as refugees the opportunity to develop leadership, recreational and personal skills during a week-long March Break camp session.

  • Willow Storytelling Program

From January to March, this program – a partnership between Good Shepherd Women’s Services and Steel City Stories – included women from a variety of backgrounds sharing their stories and experiences and culminated in performances that celebrate International Women’s Day.

  • Coding Boot Camp for Women

We love this program that allows women to flex their coding muscles. Last fall, a group of women had the opportunity to participate in a 12-week coding boot camp at the Eva Rothwell Centre which included building websites and digital applications. The program was a partnership between Industry Education Council of Hamilton and Mohawk College. Read more here.

  • Phoenix Place

After fleeing from physical and emotional violence, women and their dependent children face challenges in rebuilding their lives. We’re glad to support the Phoenix Place program at YWCA which empowers women and children in these situations with access to affordable housing, part of a wider strategy to end violence against women.

  • Legal Holistic Pilot Project for Women

Empowering women takes many forms. This project, sponsored by Social Planning and Research Council, empowers women to participate in legal processes by providing legal advice and accompaniment to legal appointments, facilitating conversational women’s groups, and providing links to free community resources and wellness.

Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like music, visual art, literacy, STEM and more.

Future Intended: Spreadin’ rhythm around

Hamilton is definitely a music town. Through a variety of funds, we’re glad to be able to support local projects and organizations that spread the joy of music. From dance and jazz to music-related health research, here are just a few great music projects that we’re supporting this year.

Hamilton All-Star Jazz Band
Did you know that grads from the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band have garnered 33 Juno nominations, 11 Juno wins, and three Grammys? The band has performed at world-famous jazz festivals like Montreux in Switzerland and has featured more than a thousand young musicians since its inception in 1984. We’re glad to give continued support to this Hamilton treasure.

Dance for Parkinson’s
We love this research project which is a partnership between McMaster University’s Digital Music Lab, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, and St Peter’s Hospital. Participants – who dance, dance and dance some more – use a screen-based app and Microsoft’s Kinect camera whose motion-sensor technology allows researchers to study the effects of dance therapy on the symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Arrell Youth Centre Productions
A new music program at the Arrell Youth Centre (operated by Banyan Community Services Foundation) will help troubled youths get back on track – by laying down some tracks of their own! The program will involve building a sound studio, music education, and writing and producing music under the guidance of professional musician mentors.

Chinese Cultural Association of Hamilton
Hamiltonians with Chinese heritage have a lot to celebrate this month. This project helps residents appreciate the arts through an array of cultural activities including a dance program for kids that culminated in a Chinese New Year performance.

Resonance Choir
Kids at the Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre will have an especially great reason to sing this year – for their health! This project which also includes partners Hamilton Health Sciences and Culture for Kids in the Arts, will look at how group vocalization and choir singing may benefit youths with physical disabilities, like respiratory and pulmonary diseases.


Future Intended is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in categories like visual art, literacy, the environment and more.

Passion, Planning, Power: HCF workshops help make the connection

Hamilton Community Foundation has an important role to play in stimulating and supporting Hamiltonians to be engaged and effective philanthropists.

One way we’re playing that role is through a new educational workshop titled Sharpen Your Impact. It takes participants through fun and interactive exercises that help them uncover what is important to them and why, and then to use that self-knowledge to build their personal philanthropic plan.

Sarah Wardrope attended a session hosted by Hamilton HIVE, a network for the city’s young professionals.  “It helped me to bring into focus the areas I am passionate about,” she says, “and to identify resources I already have, like my social media networks, that I can use to start making a difference.”

Sharpen Your Impact helps participants recognize that philanthropy goes beyond money, and to consider how they can focus assets such as time, connections, volunteerism and employment to foster the social change they envision.

Sheree Meredith, HCF’s Vice-President of Philanthropic Services says the workshop shows people how to reflect on what they are doing now – and could easily do in future. “It helps them bring together their efforts in a way that can increase the both the difference they make in the community and their own intrinsic satisfaction.”

To learn more about hosting or attending a Sharpen Your Impact workshop, please contact Sheree: s.meredith@hamiltoncommunityfoundation.ca.

Excerpt from the 2017 Legacy Fall newsletter

A clearer future for kids

Five years after its launch, a local vision screening pilot program for school children is paying high-level dividends. The Ontario government recently indicated a new mandate for public health province-wide: to address vision.

HCF provided start-up funding in 2012 to the pilot at five high-need elementary schools. It discovered vision problems in 16 percent of the children screened. Of children who needed glasses, 18 percent didn’t have them. The project engaged multiple partners to provide screening space, transportation, expertise and equipment and more than 114 Hamilton schools are now involved. HCF has supported the program throughout, including subsidizing the cost for glasses.

HCF’s initial grant also helped document the project as a policy and public education tool. Now, incorporating that evidence into its broader findings, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has mandated all public health units to address the need for vision screening.

“HCF’s funding was critical to getting this project going,” says Laura Laverty, from the City of Hamilton’s Healthy Families Division, ”and because of that, Hamilton has a head start on the province’s new vision mandate.”


Excerpt from the 2017 Legacy Fall newsletter