Posted by Shelly Duben on Dec 13, 2018
This week’s “Spotlight on Service” is a little different than previous weeks. Instead of shining the light on a particular club, I would like to shine the light on one of our District projects - the Indigenous Focus initiative - specifically on what various clubs in the district are doing in this area. Thanks to our Indigenous Focus Chair, Don Watkins for his work on this important initiative and for providing the information below.
The current D7010 Indigenous Focus initiative strives to create a more neighbourly relationship with First Nations communities close to Rotary Clubs. Like the creation of any endearing relationship, it is important to take a long range view of many points of contact and the development of trust and understanding.
Details of the Rotary Club of Peterborough Kawartha’s successful 100Km canoe trip in conjunction with the Camp Kawartha, the Canadian Canoe Museum, and Curve Lake First Nation are available at For Clubs like Gravenhurst, Lindsay, and others, sponsorship of students for Kawartha Rotary’s program is a way to engage local students with other First Nation and non-native youth from across Canada.
The Rotary Club of Elliot Lake has been able to build a very satisfying relationship with Serpent River First Nations through a collaboration on two art murals which hung in the TTC during the recent Rotary International Convention. Past President Kim Arnold continues to be in touch with the SRFN leadership about beginning a youth canoe project but there is no definite planning as yet.
Richard Denton and members of the Rotary Club of Sudbury Community Service Committee are investigating potential projects with contacts at the local N’Swakamok Friendship Centre. Because of recent vandalism at their powwow site, the Club has agreed to purchase a steel 20 foot long cargo container to keep generators, tepees, etc. in safe storage.
Angela Knight vanSchaayk (Rotary Club of North Bay) has been working on a joint proposal in conjunction with Canadore College, Nipissing University and the Canadian Ecology Center to develop a project very similar to ' Adventure in Understanding' for 12 students for August 27-30,2019 along the Mattawa River through Lake Pimsi. There will be tent camping, portaging and elder stories along the way, all finishing at Canadore College's new Village. This facility is unique in Canada, focusing on collaborative, inter-professional education and the integration of Indigenous, Eastern and Western healing and wellness practices. The Village will integrate seniors’ and community care with teaching, experiential skills training and applied research in one facility.         
The Town of Kapuskasing has long been a refuge for members of James Bay First Nations during the spring flooding season. Liz McInnis and members of the Rotary Club of Kapuskasing have invited Dr. Michael DeGagne, president of Nipissing University, to visit early in 2019 to discuss his own ancestry - his dad was French-Canadian, his mother an Indigenous woman – and the development of useful Club activities that could lead to more meaningful long term interactions.
The Rotary Club of Hearst is near the Albany River that runs north into James Bay. Some Club members are interested in examining the Kawartha Club model to determine if they could develop a local version of “Adventure in Understanding” canoe trip for area youth.
For more information about Indigenous Focus projects in the District, please contact Don Watkins at
Visit our "Spotlight on Service" Page for more messages about other club and District projects and activities.