Grand Chief attends Mexico summit with Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

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“The Grand Council has long participated in international forums, where we can tell our story and work with others towards the improvement of Indigenous peoples around the world,” said Grand Chief Abel Bosum at the North American Community Foundations Summit in Mexico City.

Bosum was invited to the summit as Grand Chief and as a board member of the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation. He took part in a discussion panel on Reducing Inequality in North America.

Bosum said he highlighted the role of the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation, which contributes to Cree social and cultural development goals. That story included life on the land, the success of defending inherent rights, and the control over economic, social and cultural development in Eeyou Istchee.

One example he gave included international work by former Grand Chief Ted Moses as the Cree ambassador to the United Nations, where he played a significant role in promoting the adoption of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples. Moses is now a board member for the Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation.

The summit attracted community foundations from Canada, the United States and Mexico that shared their best practices on how philanthropy can help reduce social problems and help work towards reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

Back in 2015, the summit set 17 sustainable development goals aimed at improving the quality of life for communities, ending poverty, protecting the planet, and bringing forward an agenda that promotes inclusivity by 2030.

“We are continuing this international engagement on a range of issues and in several forums, including the Canadian and international foundation movement,” explained Bosum.

While philanthropic support will never replace government compensation and core funding, it can supplement them and often in a way that allows for a quick response to community needs, Bosum pointed out.

“We see the potential for philanthropic support for charitable programs and activities in Eeyou Istchee that are not covered or not fully-covered by JBNQA and other government funds,” he said.

The summit inspired Bosum with ideas on how Eeyou Istchee can use philanthropy to benefit its people.

Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation

The Eenou-Eeyou Community Foundation evolved from the Aanischaaukamikw Foundation that raised about $26 million to build Aanischaaukamikw Cree Cultural Institute in Oujé-Bougoumou, said Bosum.

The Foundation found itself in a philanthropy role to work in supplementing government funding for Cree projects.

“The Foundation is about to launch a major fundraising campaign to build its capacity to support Cree social and cultural development projects throughout Eeyou Istchee,” said Bosum.

The fundraiser campaign includes for Aanischaaukamikw, education, health and social services, housing and youth.

“We are particularly excited about projects taking place across North America that use philanthropic support to improve early childhood and family outcomes,” Bosum said.

The Foundation is set to investigate and incorporate solutions into its program and fundraising plans.

“We Crees are masters at adoption and adaptation of beneficial technologies and systems,” Bosum said. “When we see something positive we make it work for us.”

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