Toronto has been a gathering place for Indigenous people since time immemorial. Today: 

  • Toronto is home to upwards of 70,000 Indigenous people from across Turtle Island.  
  • Close to 90%, or 63,000 people, live at or below the poverty line.  
  • Indigenous people in Toronto are among the most marginalized and vulnerable people in the city, facing disproportionately high levels of unemployment, food insecurity, and chronic physical and mental health conditions.  

This is the legacy of colonial trauma, systemic anti-Indigenous racism, and ongoing injustices. 


And yet even in the face of these stark realities, Indigenous communities in Toronto remain strong, vibrant, and resilient. But they need support to address and overcome systemic inequalities. The fact is that only 1% of charitable donations in Canada go to charities serving Indigenous peoples – and that must change. 


To do our part, we’ve:

  • developed relationships with local and nationally focused Indigenous organizations
  • formalized our commitment by signing the Philanthropic Community’s Declaration of Action
  • supported 30 Indigenous organizations and programs for a total of $1.5M (fiscal year 2020) together with our fundholders
  • tried to listen and learn from Indigenous leaders

Indigenous leaders and communities have the ideas on how to help their communities thrive. Increasingly we’re inviting Indigenous leaders to share their perspectives during our donor education events, when preparing research reports and on our communications platforms. Below you can read and listen to what they have shared with us.

What We’ve Learned From Indigenous Leaders

On June 25, 2020, Lindsay Kretschmer, executive director of Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council (TASSC), hosted a candid conversation with leaders of four member agencies to learn about the unique needs of the local Indigenous community during the pandemic, ideas on what support the community needs and how their resilience is shining through. Watch the webinar. 

Indigenous leaders talking at a Better Toronto Coalition webinar.

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve interviewed several leaders on how they are serving the specific needs of the Indigenous community. Here are some of those stories. 

Patti Pettigrew, the executive director of Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society.

Hear what executive director Patti Pettigrew had to say about the work at Thunder Woman Healing Lodge Society (TWHLS) to break the cycle of Indigenous women’s over-representation in Canada’s prisons. Read more

The Anishnawbe Health Toronto team in their mobile health unit.

Anishnawbe Health Toronto started operating a mobile health unit out of a RV to support all the people living in encampments. But they don’t turn anyone away. Read our interview with Harvey Manning, Director of Programs & Services.

A staff member at Seventh Generation.

Community and culture are an important part of pregnancy and birth for many people, but especially for the Indigenous community. Hear how Seventh Generations Midwives Toronto, a group of midwives who offer primary reproductive and pregnancy care to families in Toronto with a focus on Indigenous families, is continuing to provide perinatal support. Read more

Someone from the Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts performing.

The Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts (ANDPVA) identifies, promotes, and creates opportunities for Indigenous artists to preserve traditional knowledge and advance cultural identities in order to help the community heal from the trauma of colonization. Executive director Millie Knapp and her team have had to pivot during COVID. Read more


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