Indigenous Culture Fund – Phone Script and Talking Points for contacting MPPs
I am contacting you today as a constituent in your riding who is concerned about the future of the Indigenous Culture Fund and what its dissolution will mean for Indigenous communities and peoples in Ontario. As you are well aware, Indigenous communities have undergone systematic destruction of their culture and languages enacted and enforced through government policies.
The Indigenous Culture Fund (ICF) was created in 2017 as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action and demonstrates the Ontario government’s commitment to Indigenous communities and peoples. The Indigenous Culture Fund was created with the purpose of “support[ing] cultural activities and programming in Indigenous communities, increasing opportunities for Indigenous people to engage in and share cultural practices, knowledge and learning.” In December 2018, the Ontario Government announced it would be cutting the ICF from $5 million to $2.75 million and would be putting the program under review. In addition, while under review the ICF will no longer accept new grant applications, entailing the layoff of Indigenous staff hired to oversee the program.
The wide scope of the ICF allowed for a multiplicity of Indigenous-led initiatives with a shared objective of reclaiming, preserving and revitalizing culture while repairing damages inflicted upon these communities. Though administered by the Ontario Arts Council, the Indigenous Culture Fund was separate and not focussed on art or art projects; the ICF funded cultural projects designed to revitalize Indigenous communities, connect youth and elders, and reclaim Indigenous knowledge systems and languages.
The scope of potential projects promoting cultural continuity for Indigenous communities is limitless, yet the fund is being cut pre-emptively before Indigenous communities or the Ontario Government has had a chance to fully realize the merits of the program or what could be achieved. We MUST provide Indigenous peoples the opportunity to determine their own paths to (re)connect with their culture and languages and in doing so they expand the potential for their future generations. I ask that you ___________ as our elected Member of Provincial Parliament, support the Indigenous Culture Fund by reinstating its funding in full and ensuring it continues unhindered by the current provincial government.
Talking Points and links to more information
- In 2008, the Harper government apologized to Residential School survivors because we now recognize, regardless of our political affiliations, that the attempted eradication of Indigenous cultures was morally reprehensible and wrong.
- Former PM Paul Martin “call[ed] a spade a spade” and acknowledged that residential schools used education for cultural genocide. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/paul-martin-accuses-residential-schools-of-cultural-genocide-1.1335199
- In a 2017 Ontario Government one-year progress report titled “The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples” stated:
“Culture and language are critical to forming personal identity and a distinct sense of self. Residential school survivors and their families have faced many challenges in this area. The forcible removal of Indigenous children from their families robbed the children of their identity and reduced parents’ ability to share their language and culture with their children. This has led to intergenerational trauma in many families. That’s why supporting Indigenous efforts to restore and celebrate language and culture are so important to long-term reconciliation efforts.” https://files.ontario.ca/progress_report1_en_web.pdf
- The ICF has only gone through two rounds of application-to-approved project funding (Aug/Nov 2017 & April/May 2018). http://www.arts.on.ca/grants/activity/indigenous-culture-fund
- The Ontario Government’s cuts come at a time as the rest of the world enters the “International Year of Indigenous Languages” as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2016. https://en.iyil2019.org/
- The Indigenous Culture Fund can be seen as Ontario’s commitment to upholding many articles outlined within the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) including articles: 8, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 & 31. https://www.un.org/esa/socdev/unpfii/documents/DRIPS_en.pdf
- UNDRIP Article 13 (1) Indigenous peoples have the right to revitalize, use, develop and transmit to future generations their histories, languages, oral traditions, philosophies, writing systems and literatures, and to designate and retain their own names for communities, places and persons. (2) States shall take effective measures to ensure that this right is protected and also to ensure that indigenous peoples can understand and be understood in political, legal and administrative proceedings, where necessary through the provision of interpretation or by other appropriate means.
- UNDRIP Article 11 (1) Indigenous peoples have the right to practise and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artefacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature. (2) States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action: http://nctr.ca/assets/reports/Calls_to_Action_English2.pdf