A Journey Of Firsts
While the Friendship Box program has been our flagship initiative since 2013, we have instituted several programs that were new to the communities we served, and oftentimes new to the work of reconciliation in Canada.
Actress Michelle Thrush performs for elementary school students in Attawapiskat during an ILFP school celebration event
Three-time world hoop dance champion Dallas Arcand performs for elementary school students in Alberta during an ILFP national school celebration tour
As the conversation over reconciliation evolves and as the communities become better equipped to face their challenges, we make it a priority to adapt our programs and our areas of focus. In the community of Rapid Lake, for example, we introduced several programs over the 7 year period during which we served the students and the school. Following a review of the school's needs in 2019, we came to the proud realization that the school had come a very long way and that our support was no longer needed. We will remain in contact and always ready to help should there be a need, but ultimately our goals there were met.
Here is a look at some past initiatives that have had meaningful impact:
In December 2016, Symmes-D'Arcy McGee High School in Gatineau, Quebec, launched a shoebox drive in support of a distribution we were planning in Ahtahkakoop, Saskatchewan. During their month-long drive, the school took the opportunity to raise awareness about Indigenous culture and issues with their students.
When we collected the gift-filled shoeboxes from the school, we met with the students in the auditorium, and realized that they had learned much about Ahtahkakoop during that month. Their sense of connectedness to the community through the process of packing shoeboxes was evident. That morning, we shared something they did not know about Ahtahkakoop: that the students there were struggling with bullying.
Immediately, the principal asked if we could pair his school with Ahtahkakoop to empower the students in both schools and share best practices. This is how, in April of 2017, we came together to launch Peaceleaders, an initiative that continues between the two schools to this day.
In Northern communities where resources are often scarce and basic necessities unaffordable for many, ILFP provided children and youth in BC with hygiene kits and education on self care. Kits and workshops were delivered through school principals, health service agencies, and the RCMP Aboriginal Policing Division.
(Because Achievement Should Never Go Unnoticed)
In communities across Canada, our signature back-to-school celebration events and achievement awards for children and youth attracted a great number of parents and community members, providing much encouragement to the students and school staff. In Rapid Lake alone, within two years of holding celebration events, the school had noted a 30% increase in child enrolment.
Penpals For Young Learners
First Friends encouraged friendship through self-expression between children in kindergarten to grade 3 by bringing together classrooms for the purpose of discovering and celebrating commonalities, in a non-curriculum based approach.
For Mom & Baby
This mothers-mentors program was developed by ILFP, in collaboration with professionals, students and an advisory board from Queen’s University, as well as primary caregivers and community leaders from Moose Cree First Nation in Ontario.
In an effort to help alleviate the some of the impacts of systemic issues that Indigenous people face, Mama-We helped empower local young mothers into impactful community advocates by developing their mentorship capacity and providing resources for self-care and baby care.
In collaboration with John McMahon, founder of Performance MindWorks and a two-time world kickboxing champion, we introduced youth ages 13-16 to basic concepts of entrepreneurship through self-discovery. Students developed a social entrepreneurship project aimed to raise awareness on the negative impacts of drug abuse and to raise money in support of drug treatment for parents suffering wth addictions.