Social Return Program Recipients Fall 2017

Giving back to the communities the Firelight Group works with is one of our founding principles.  Every year we devote a portion of our budget to supporting programs and projects which are culturally, politically, or ecologically important to communities. Through two intakes (Spring and Fall), our Social Return Program awards community-based projects or programs with partial or full funding up to $15,000. We are particularly focused on funding projects which might struggle to find funding from other sources, but which we feel have high cultural significance by design. Projects must meet the following criteria: community-based; of cultural or ecological importance; ideal projects will have a significant longterm legacy, and help achieve community goals (e.g. does it make a contribution towards community-identified priorities?).

The Firelight Group is pleased to announce that we will be committing funding towards the following four projects through our Social Return Program in Fall 2017:

Westbank First Nation, Syilx Forestry Standards Toolkit – The Syilx Forestry Standards Toolkit will produce a community-driven stewardship tool with multi-generational effects. By meeting and listening to community members across Syilx territory, this project aims to create a set of standard forestry practices to be implemented in the territory that reflect Syilx culture, values, language and stewardship concerns. The Toolkit will incorporate nsyilxcən, the Syilx language, and will use traditional place names to help inform decision-making. This project will create a set of “rules” for forest operators in Syilx territory, protocols for implementing Syilx law, as well as tools for data collection and monitoring efforts. This research will culminate in the publishing of a final report and toolkit which will be made publicly available to both the communities and forestry companies.

Stellat’en First Nation, “Stellat’en Head Start Dakelh Language Guide” – Stellat’en Head Start Curriculum Guide — developed by Stellat’en’s Language and Culture Centre — is a teaching tool that provides educators with materials to teach youth about Dakelh language, cultural knowledge, and skills. The materials include guides for language teachers, and a workbook for students at the grade 9 level. The goals of this project are to build confidence and self-esteem in Stellat’en youth, and to revitalize the dakelh language as youth use it among themselves and with family. The objectives are to give teachers and families materials with which children and adults can learn Dakelh language, in forms that also help them learn about their culture, identity, and home environment. With a draft curriculum guide already completed, funding will go towards the final stage of implementation, publishing and distribution into schools. With roughly 30 fluent speakers, this project will work towards bridging a generational language gap on the way to revitalizing the Dakelh language.

Kwikwetlem First Nation, Reclaiming Our Medicines: Community Capacity Building Around Traditional Plants – This project will build the capacity of Kwikwetlem community members relating to traditional knowledge transmission of culturally important plants and medicines. The two main objectives of this project are to plant a traditional medicine garden within the community, as well as to incorporate mentorship from local knowledge holders in the area so that Kwikwetlem members will be confident, comprehensive, and self-sufficient in their knowledge about local plants – returning this traditional knowledge to the community where it was fractured by exclusion from their traditional territory in the Coquitlam Watershed. This project aligns with the community’s goals surrounding health and wellness and cultural revitalization.

Tsawout First Nation, Traditional Foods Knowledge Transfer and Indigenous Foods Gathering – This gathering aims to encourage youth to learn about Indigenous food practices while celebrating these foods with the wider community. Tsawout will be hosting a multi-day event in March of 2018 that begins with youth learning traditional food skills from knowledge holders in the community and culminates with them using those skills to prepare a feast where all South Island Nations will be invited to participate. The project will provide a fun and interactive space for youth to participate in food, land and cultural activities. Access to traditional foods is more than just eating the foods of our ancestors. It reconnects us to the land, it addresses our food security and food related health challenges, it helps build community and shares cultural stories and information. By celebrating and practicing these skills, this feast will also support First Nations communities in building their capacity around healthy food initiatives with a focus on Indigenous foods.

The next deadline for Social Return Program applications is April 13th, 2018 at 5pm PST.  If you have a project that meets our criteria, please email Carolyn Whittaker for an application.