By Sadia Zaman of Inspirit Foundation

As an original signatory to The Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action, Inspirit Foundation’s work to foster reconciliation and implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action is grounded in principles of reciprocity and equity. We understand that reconciliation is an ongoing process that requires listening, learning and adapting our practices to address legacies and systems of colonization.

As part of our work to foster reconciliation, Inspirit is focused on narrative sovereignty, sharing power, and self-determination through our investments.

Narrative Sovereignty

To achieve our vision of a pluralist Canada, we believe in the importance of storytelling. Narratives have the ability to foster understanding, elicit empathy and catalyze change.

In the context of reconciliation and our work, this means amplifying Indigenous voices and stories, and supporting Indigenous leadership by funding initiatives within the media and art sectors. In particular, Inspirit’s work is informed by TRC’s Call to Actions #84 to #86, calls around media and reconciliation.

The ultimate goal is to foster narrative sovereignty. We hope to increase the production, exposure, and amplification of Indigenous narratives, as well as to develop skills and resources within Indigenous communities to tell their own stories.

We fund Indigenous projects that aim to shift system structures, practices, policies or processes to foster equity and remove barriers built by colonialism. This includes the development of onscreen pathways and protocols for Indigenous productions and arts and media-based knowledge mobilization tools around land dispossession.

Inspirit grantees also involve content creators who are changing national conversations. From a campaign to preserve the histories of residential school survivors, to a video archive of Indigenous curators, to Canada’s first university broadcasting program delivered in Indigenous languages, our funding initiatives support Indigenous communities to tell their own stories.

Power and Control

Resources, and who controls them, signify power. Trust-based philanthropy asks us to give up some of that power. Inspirit remains the first and only foundation in Canada to provide a capital transfer to the Indigenous Peoples Resilience Fund (IPRF), the first Indigenous-led grantmaking foundation in Canada. IPRF is an Indigenous-led and governed effort to respond to urgent community needs, with a vision for community adaptability and resilience. On the anniversary of the Fund’s creation, Inspirit invested $1.9 million, including $1 million for a capital transfer and an annual $300,000 grant per year for three years. The grants are unrestricted.

This focus on unrestricted granting is also about shifting power. Removing restrictions allows grantees to use funding in ways that is best for them and the people they serve. Whether it is for capacity development, or new programming, or strengthening governance, unrestricted funding means trusting Indigenous grantees to understand their communities’ needs and, subsequently, provide the appropriate support. We also ask grantees what payment schedules and structures work for them.

At Inspirit, we also track how much of our funding goes to Indigenous-led projects. Our goal for the end of 2021 is for a minimum of 75% of projects that foster reconciliation to be led by Indigenous peoples or organizations. As of October, we are well beyond our target, at 85%.

Self-Determination Through Investments

Click here for pdf of “Fully Committed: Our Roadmap Towards a 100% Impact Portfolio”

In addition to grants, we leverage our investment capital for social good. For many organizations, impact investing is a financial tool with social considerations. For Inspirit, our commitment to a 100% impact portfolio is crucial for systemic change.

Several investments in our portfolio directly impact Indigenous communities; for example, an Indigenous-led fund invests in Indigenous social enterprises and a social impact bond supports the cultural well-being and health of up to 200 expectant Indigenous mothers and their children. Also, by increasing the capacity of Indigenous trusts to steward their financial resources and investments and by engaging Canadian institutional investors about contributing to positive economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples, our support of the Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative is having an impact on the financial system.

Walking Beside and With Indigenous Communities

All of our work around reconciliation has happened because of relationships that were developed and deepened over the course of the Foundation’s short history.  As we enter into new relationships, Inspirit continues to learn what a meaningful relationship looks like.

Sadia Zaman brings a wealth of arts, media and not-for-profit leadership experience to her role as CEO of Inspirit Foundation. She’s received dozens of awards for her journalism and has been honoured for her leadership. She sits on many advisory committees and several boards and is often ask to speak on issues related to media, equity and leadership. Connect with her and Inspirit Foundation through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Photos above are courtesy of Woodland Cultural Centre.

Monday, November 22, 2021 in ,
Share: Twitter, Facebook