Rotary HIP Supports Indigenous Youth Through Education

Canada's First Nations peoples are a special resource who have faced many challenges.  When Rotarians asked how we could help, the clear and compelling response was "through education."  John Currie told his story of a personal awakening to the needs of the indigenous people his community, and how this led to the formation of Rotary HIP.
Pickering Rotarian John Currie began to encounter the depth of racism against indegenous peoples years ago, when his friend Frank, who was a member of a First Nation, committed suicide and no one would discuss it.  John knew he had an uncle who was also indigenous but, again, no one in the family was willing to talk about him.  John recalled his dad telling stories of Cameron Lake and nearby McIntosh Residential School.  His dad envied the kids playing by the lake, never realizing the devastating treatment they received within the school.  These tragic mysteries created a drive to know more that brought him to do a bachelour's degree in history in indigenous studies.
Rotary has about 720 clubs in Canada with approximately 23,000 members.  John realized there was an opportunity for Rotarians to become more involved with First Nations peoples, sparking the concept of Rotary HIP.  Two years of consultations with indigenous peoples made it clear that their priority for assistance would focus on educational needs, which fit well with Rotary's mandate too.
Rotary HIP's tripartite mission is to promote awareness of the needs of indigenous communities, to cultivate relationships with First Nations peoples and to support these communities through education in all its forms.  Rotary HIP provides sensitivity training for all of its volunteers to foster insight and understanding.  Rotary HIP's board is diverse: 50% indigenous, spread across the country, and gender balanced.  It seeks to support more than 75 indigenous communities through the participation of 200 Rotary clubs and more than 75 partners including corporate partners, such as Siemens, and other service organizations, such as Kiwanis.  A project to provide educational materials with an indigenous perspective has met with much success thanks to the involvement of partnering organization  Siemens has helped by donating refurbished laptops and Elephant Thoughts has made sure the educators and kids in the schools receiving them understand their use as part of their mandate to promote education in STEM fields.  This kind of support is appreciated by organizations such as the First Nations Technical Institute, a post-secondary organization which provides college and university level courses customized to meet the needs of aboriginal learners.
Rotary clubs are looking at more they can do individually, such as posting acknowledgement plaques in Rotary Parks and participating in Orange Shirt Day, held annually on September 30th.