WHAT WE DO
I Love First Peoples empowers Indigenous children and youth to succeed through education and the motivation to stay in school. We bridge communities through practical projects that promote reconciliation and education. Through our celebrity platform, we also raise awareness about reconciliation across Canada and around the globe.
WHO WE ARE
We are a bridge. Our board is majority Indigenous, with a blend of Indigenous and non-Indigenous leaders. We could not claim to bridge communities otherwise. Will you walk this bridge with us?
We are non-political. It seems most citizens, like we once did, feel powerless to help because the issues facing First Peoples are so big and require political solutions. While this is true, we have proven that ordinary people can accomplish the extraordinary. Will you step off the sidelines and join us?
Many Indigenous leaders have seen the impact of our work, which is why they have either become board members, advisors or active supporters.
ILFP raises awareness for reconciliation with the masses -- the average citizen who is neither a politician nor an academic, and who, generally speaking, does not understand the issues but knows something is deeply wrong. In 2016, we organized two events to honour Indigenous peoples, one during a Toronto Maple Leafs game and another with the Buffalo Sabres, to bring the topic of reconciliation into people’s living rooms. The Toronto event was broadcast on Sportsnet, raising awareness with hundreds of thousands. We invited Mike Downie and the DWF to take part in the event, with the Indigenous leaders shown in the video link on our website landing page. Our president had the immense privilege and opportunity to organize every aspect of the messaging of this project, from the press releases to the video scripts, to the announcer’s message. These NHL events sparked interest with several other NHL and pro sporting teams, who soon followed suit. Through our advocacy, other projects of national significance are being realized.
The celebrity involvement and media following we have has enabled us to give youth and communities a national platform on which to be heard.
Today, thousands upon thousands of people, groups, businesses, schools, etc. are being encouraged to shift their thinking toward solving issues at home, because of the Friendship gift box. Furthermore, we are seeing Indigenous groups and non-Indigenous citizens working together actively through our Friendship projects, the likes of which have not been seen before. As a well-respected elder recently said: “This is true reconciliation. It doesn’t come from the gate keepers, but from the children and the people.” As Canadians get involved in the work of ILFP, they will want to become better informed, and will then engage on a deeper level to bring urgently-needed change in this country.
The Programs tab of this website speaks to the impact we have had with schools and students in the communities.
HOW WE STARTED
Our founder, Josée Lusignan, has worked for some of the largest charities in the world. One day, she was shocked to read that an aid organization was feeding First Nations children in northern Quebec. In a country as prosperous as ours, how could this be?
In 2012, Josée stayed in downtown Winnipeg for part of the summer, where she spent most of her time buying lunches, coffees and water bottles for First Nations people living on the street. She left devastated from all the pain she had witnessed, but more determined than ever to make a change.
That’s when we (the rest of us musketeers) got an email… Would we please ask everyone we knew to take empty shoeboxes and fill them with gifts for children. Within a few short weeks, Josée’s living room was piled high with gift-filled shoeboxes.
In 2013, we met with the director of education in Rapid Lake, one of the most disadvantaged First Nations communities in Quebec. He graciously welcomed us and introduced us to the principal and leaders of Kitiganik Elementary School who embraced us also.
A few months later we met the children whose smiles and kindness and joy captured our hearts. We’ve been sold out ever since.
President and founder, Josée Lusignan, doing what she enjoys most — bringing smiles and creating friendships.
Kitiganik Elementary School principal, Shirley Whiteduck, and Bruce Shisheesh, former Chief of Attawapiskat, on the impact of our work (click image to view CTV report)