Philanthropy and Reconciliation

The Lawson Foundation is committed to supporting and advancing the work of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. We see this work as a continuous journey and not a destination or goal to be achieved. As we walk the path of reconciliation, we are learners and listeners first.


Land Acknowledgement

The Lawson Foundation would like to acknowledge that the land on which our office is located is the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, the Métis, and most recently, the territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation. The territory was the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant, an agreement between the Iroquois Confederacy and the Ojibwe and allied nations to peaceably share and care for the resources around the Great Lakes.

This territory is also covered by the Upper Canada Treaties.

Today, the meeting place of Toronto (from the Haudenosaunee word Tkaronto) is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to base our work in this territory.


Our commitment to reconciliation and the TRC Calls to Action

Our journey is grounded in the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (the TRC). Along with several other philanthropic foundations and grant-makers, we have signed the Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action, signalling our commitment to ensuring that positive action on reconciliation is a priority for our philanthropy and related work. 

Created in 2008 through a legal settlement between Residential School Survivors, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit representatives, the Government of Canada and several church bodies, the TRC had a mandate to document the truth of Survivors, their families, communities, and anyone personally affected by the residential school experience and to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools. 

The TRC prepared a comprehensive report on the policies and operations of the schools and their lasting impacts and included Ten Principles for Reconciliation and 94 Calls to Action that speak to all sectors of Canadian society.

A number of the Calls to Action pertain directly to the work of the Lawson Foundation. and while our commitment to reconciliation will inform how we approach our philanthropy and our work across the Foundation, there is a particular focus on our work in the area of diabetes, with type 2 diabetes among Indigenous youth being the fastest growing pediatric chronic disease in the world. 

Given the magnitude of the challenge and our commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in Canada, the Foundation has directed its Child & Youth Diabetes Strategy to focus on the prevention of type 2 diabetes and its complications in Indigenous Peoples and communities in northern and remote areas. 

Our recent work in partnership with Indigenous communities has given us a much stronger understanding of these communities and has enabled important relationship and trust building with Indigenous partners. Our experience so far reinforces the importance of working with recognition of the impact of colonialism and intergenerational trauma, undertaken with Indigenous advisors and partners.

As such, the Strategy focuses on supporting and enabling community-driven initiatives, promoting the mobilization and sharing of knowledge, and informing and influencing shifts in public policy. 

“Permanently reducing the burden of type 2 diabetes (T2D) in Indigenous communities requires uprooting the structures that accelerate its onset using a community-developed, culturally sound, and trauma-informed approach.” 

The Foundation recognizes and supports Indigenous self-determination in health. By working directly with Indigenous communities, the Lawson Foundation’s Child and Youth Diabetes Strategy seeks to support the work these communities are doing to provide improved health outcomes for their Peoples. 

To this end, we espouse the recommendations of the TRC Calls to Action in relation to health and wellness for Indigenous Peoples, particularly with respect to diabetes, and the specific actions outlined in Call to Action #18:

TRC Call to Action #18
We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties. 

While Call to Action #18 is central to the work the Lawson Foundation and our partnered projects are doing in child and youth diabetes, the following Calls to Action related to health and wellness are also key and relevant to the communities we work with and the Foundation’s commitment to reconciliation:

TRC Call to Action #19
We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess long-term trends. Such efforts would focus on indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services. 

TRC Call to Action #20
In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize, respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples. 

TRC Call to Action #21
We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority. 

TRC Call to Action #22
We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients. 

TRC Call to Action #23
We call upon all levels of government to:
– Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field.
– Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities.
– Provide cultural competency training for all health-care professionals. 

TRC Call to Action #24
We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

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