By Sherlyn Assam (May 21, 2021)

A milestone in our sector

In a historic moment for Canadian philanthropy, two foundations made a capital transfer of $3.85 million to Canada’s first Black-community-oriented foundation (the Foundation for Black Communities) — followed by the Canadian government pledging $200 million. How and why did all this happen?

The FFBC had called for a $200 million endowment from the government and philanthropic sector to support a mission of ensuring Black-led and Black-serving organizations have more resources to serve their communities. Inspirit Foundation and Laidlaw Foundation were Canada’s first and only foundations to answer FFBC’s call for support, pledging 3.5% of their capital base.

Responses to “Unfunded”

The report “Unfunded” found that Canada’s top 10 foundations gave only 0.03% of their grants to Black-led organizations and 0.13% to Black-serving organizations. Despite the wealth disparity between non-Black and Black Canadians, the school-to-prison pipeline, the disproportionate policing of Black communities, and other ways anti-black racism manifests in Canadian society, research in “Unfunded” shows how the philanthropic sector is failing to serve those who need assistance the most.

These contributions follow studies of Black Canadians being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, and the release of Unfunded: Black Communities Overlooked by Canadian Philanthropy, a report showing that the Canadian philanthropic sector has failed to invest in and meet the needs of Black communities.

However, with the arrival of FFBC, the sector is witnessing what can happen when philanthropy prioritizes the reallocation of wealth.

PANL Perspectives spoke with Sadia Zaman, CEO of Inspirit, and Jehad Aliweiwi, Executive Director of Laidlaw, to learn about the process behind their historic contributions. The following questions and answers have been edited for length and clarity.

Sherlyn Assam is an MPNL student at Carleton University. She’s also a freelance journalist on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Her work can be found at (Photo of waves is courtesy of Chris Chan and Unsplash.)

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