Victoria Foundation grants $506,000 to support local Nations and Indigenous organizations in the capital region

For Immediate Release
April 23, 2024

Victoria, B.C. – The Victoria Foundation announced today that it will distribute $506,000 to 17 different applicants to support social, cultural, and legal infrastructure for Indigenous communities in the capital region. Four local Nations and 13 other applicants received funding through a new pilot program — the Indigenous Priorities Fund — developed by the Foundation’s Indigenous Granting Advisory.

The Indigenous Priorities Fund prioritizes Nations, followed by Indigenous organizations, to support the priorities they have identified within their communities. The Indigenous Granting Advisory is made up of Indigenous people living in the capital region and was formed to develop a granting approach that better reflects Indigenous values and priorities.

“This new initiative builds on the Victoria Foundation’s ongoing relationship with Indigenous communities and on the recommendations of the Foundation’s Reconciliation Task Group,”” said Sandra Richardson, Victoria Foundation CEO. “We wholeheartedly support the important work of the grant recipients, and we recognize and respect that it is essential for this process to be Indigenous led.”

Tamara Napoleon, the Victoria Foundation’s new board chair and member of the Indigenous Granting Advisory, said that “with the entire granting process guided by an all-Indigenous advisory group, we were able to create a program that really resonated with grant applicants. The demand for funding exceeded the available amount by four times. Developing new avenues for supporting Indigenous communities is fundamentally important to Reconciliation, and to creating a vibrant, caring community for all.”

The funding for the grants was made possible through several of the Foundation’s Community Action Funds and discretionary funds, and additional gifts from donors with a special interest in supporting Indigenous communities.

Among the grant recipients is Tsawout First Nation. They received a grant to purchase a van to support Nation members needing transportation for appointments, cultural events and programs, and accessing community services as part of their SȾÁUTW Head Start program.

Amber Cunningham, SȾÁUTW Head Start Coordinator, said SȾÁUTW Head Start extends the heartfelt gratitude for the opportunity receive this grant funding from the Victoria Foundation.

“This funding will be utilized to incorporate our land-based learning programming by purchasing a passenger van. Being provided with an opportunity to be on the land is a significant way to engage with local ecosystems through culture and language while providing opportunities to learn about food sovereignty, traditional plants, and provide natural sensory experiences. In addition to providing an important opportunity for children and families to be on the land, the passenger van will also support food delivery to children and families in the community,” said Amber.

The Literacy Circle Society (TLC), in collaboration with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, also received a grant for their literacy learning pilot project.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action are being brought to life by a generous contribution from the Victoria Foundation to The Literacy Circle Society. The Literacy Circle Society provides a safe space for literacy training to Indigenous Elders and adults, residential and day school survivors, and intergenerational survivors,” said Elder Yvonne Rigsby-Jones (Snuneymuwx), Literacy Circle Vice President and Founding Executive Director of Tsow-Tun-Le-Lum Society.

“We are grateful for this critical funding and the amazing opportunity to bring TLC to Victoria and provide an education to those who were denied it,” Yvonne said.

A full list of grant recipients is available below and on the Indigenous Priorities Fund webpage.

Grantee Organization Name Description of Project Grant Amount
Esquimalt Nation Hire an employment/education navigator to support Nation members in attaining their personal, educational and employment goals. $38,598.00
Songhees Nation Purchase traditional cedar canoes to for Nation transportation and cultural activities. $38,598.00
Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay) First Nation Renovate and repair the Nation’s Big House for community events and gatherings. $38,598.00
Tsawout First Nation Purchase a van to support Nation members needing transportation support for appointments, cultural events and programs, and accessing community services, including food delivery to members in need. $38,598.00
Mayne Island Conservancy Society + WSÁNEĆ Leadership Council (with?
Tsartlip Nation engagement and support)
Control the destructive fallow (non-Indigenous) deer population with Tsartlip hunters following Indigenous hunting practices and ceremony on SḴŦAḴ/Mayne Island, and restoring ecological balance and providing food for the Nation’s food security programs. $38,598.00
Victoria Sexual Assault Centre + Surrounded by Cedar, Aunty Collective and nation participation including WSÁNEĆ, Songhees, Tsartlip, Sc’ianew (Beecher Bay), Tsawout through Elders and representatives Maintain and continue the collaborative work of the Indigenous Response Network who work together to develop culturally appropriate care and support initiatives for Indigenous people in the region facing gender-based violence. $50,000.00
University of Victoria + Songhees Nation Expand UVic Centre for Outreach Education (CORE) tutoring services to 4 to 5 days a week with 4 to 5 tutors each day, at the request of Songhees Nation After School Care program to meet significant increase in demand. $50,000.00
BC Amateur Sport Fund (applying for WSÁNEĆ School Board and BC Ultimate) Expand successful Ultimate Spirit programming with local Indigenous youth attending WSÁNEĆ Secondary School to build leadership, physical health, and mentorship opporttu $48,510.00
Peers Victoria Resources Society / QomQem Coastal Connections Maintain cultural programming and expand cultural services for folks living unhoused, precariously housed or using substances in Lekwungen territories. Includes training for peer workers. $25,000.00
Michif Language Revitalization Circle Society Métis participants are connected with a community of Michif Language Learners to speak Michif regularly through both in-person and digital programs. $25,000.00
Stqeeye’ Learning Society Hire communications/site coordinator to support the organization with multi-pronged work (traditional land-based education, curriculum development, restoration and food sovereignty, and infrastructure). $25,000.00
Oasis Society for the Spiritual Health of Victoria Support for paying a staff member and the purchase of capital equipment to enhance the delivery of culturally resonate Integrated Recovery and Holistic Healing program for those living unhoused and/or in poverty in downtown region. $25,000.00
Surrounded by Cedar Child and Family Services Society Renovate already existing space to provide a gathering place for urban Indigenous youth to practice culture, learn to cook with traditional foods, and have a place to gather as a community with support staff and mentorship. $25,000.00
Island Métis Family & Community Services Society Community kitchen program empowers Métis youth, fosters resilience, and provides peer community gathering space to share meals, by educating them on health, nutrition and traditional diet including cooking and knife skills training for which they receive a certificate to aid in securing work in hospitality sector. $20,000.00
The Literacy Circle Society + Victoria Native Friendship Centre Provides a safe and respectful space for literacy learning for Indigenous elders and adults, residential and day school survivors and intergenerational survivors. New pilot in Victoria based on successful program in Nanaimo. $10,000.00
Take a Hike Youth Mental Health Foundation Project addresses the need for well-being, belonging and connectedness among both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. Provides opportunities for Indigenous youth participants to connect with the culture and community of local nations, while offering non-Indigenous youth opportunities to learn from Indigenous leaders and build connection to place. $6,500.00
Bike Victoria Society Partner with the Songhees Wellness Centre to develop and deliver custom bike education courses for Songhees youth to address the barriers they face to cycling. $3,000.00

About the Victoria Foundation

Established in 1936, the Victoria Foundation is Canada’s second oldest community foundation and the sixth largest of over 200 nation-wide. The Victoria Foundation manages charitable gifts from donors whose generosity allows them to create permanent, income-earning funds. The proceeds from these funds are then distributed as grants for charitable or educational purposes. To date, the Victoria Foundation has invested over $313 million in people, projects and non-profit organizations that strengthen communities in BC and throughout Canada.

Media Contacts

Adam van der Zwan, Communications and Media Relations Specialist
The Victoria Foundation
Phone: 250-381-5532

Mary Desprez
The Literacy Circle
Phone: (250) 381-7187

Amber Cunningham
SȾÁUTW Head Start Coordinator
Phone: (778) 533-7986