Anishinabek Nation leadership disappointed by cultural funding cuts by provincial government

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Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod. photo by Laura Barrios

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (December 17, 2018)— Anishinabek Nation Lake Huron Region Chair and Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod is disappointed following the news that the Government of Ontario will be making funding cuts to the Ontario Arts Council and to the Indigenous Culture Fund.

“The fund existed to extend beyond simply ‘the arts’— it was intended to support youth and Elders and provide programs to revitalize culture and language,” expresses Chief McLeod. “The Indigenous Culture Fund could have been essential for allowing Indigenous communities to take an active role in repairing the losses incurred due to the legacy of Residential Schools.”

The previous Liberal government in 2017 set up the Indigenous Culture Fund to support cultural activities and programming in Indigenous communities and is administered by the Ontario Arts Council. The initiative was created as part of the Government of Ontario’s response to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The province was to make annual contributions of $5 million; however, following a recent funding review, a $2.25 million cut is set to come into effect this year.

“It is disappointing that this crucial program has been cut off at the knees before it was given a chance to flourish and nurture our communities as we find our way back to what was lost,” Chief McLeod adds.  “These continued cuts to Indigenous funding will not only impact the lives of individual Indigenous children, youth and Elders, but they are regressive and will hinder progress both in the arts and on reconciliation efforts as a whole.”

The priorities of the Indigenous Culture Fund support: opportunities for Indigenous people and communities to build traditional culture and knowledge capacity; projects that improve ability to learn, access, practice and engage in traditional Indigenous land-based activities, languages, teachings, protocols and ceremonies; Indigenous cultural knowledge exchange between generations and communities; youth-led and/or youth-engaged cultural projects; and Elder-led and/or Elder-engaged cultural projects.

In a statement from a spokesperson from the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport issued on December 15, it was stated that the “government is reviewing the Indigenous Culture Fund to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used efficiently to maximize the impact of Indigenous culture support”.

“There is nothing more impactful than providing funding to go towards reparation efforts to help remedy the consequences of an issue that they created long ago that still has serious ramifications that our people continue to live through today,” notes Chief McLeod.

The Anishinabek Nation is the political advocate for 40 member communities across Ontario, representing approximately 60,000 people. The Anishinabek Nation is the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

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