Coming together to shine light on our shared history.

A new exhibit in our atrium tells the stories of Canada’s Inuit Residential School Survivors.

As part of United Way Winnipeg’s ongoing efforts to bring unique communities together for the benefit of all, we’re pleased to announce a special partnership with the Manitoba Inuit Association.

In addition to the few hundred Inuit who call Winnipeg home, our city is also one of the few regular southern hosts to many Inuit guests who come here  to obtain medical services, training, and other opportunities.

Together with the Manitoba Inuit Association and the Legacy of Hope Foundation, we have created a space for Winnipeggers to gain a deeper understanding of our neighbours to the north through a public exhibition called “We Were So Far Away:  the Inuit Experience of Residential Schools”. The exhibit, produced by the Legacy of Hope Foundation, tells the stories of eight Inuit Residential School survivors.


On Monday, guests from the community gathered to mark the exhibit’s opening.  The Manitoba Inuit Association invited their members and we also welcomed our friends attending the national “All My Relations Gathering” on Indigenous philanthropy being held by The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada (The Circle).

Abraham Ruben was a student at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik, NWT, for 11 years.

Abraham Ruben was a student at Sir Alexander Mackenzie School in Inuvik, NWT, for 11 years.

Udloriak Hanson with The Circle greeted about 70 guests by recognizing their presence on Treaty 1 territory and the homeland of the Metis Nation.

The Honourable Eric Robinson, Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs and himself a residential school survivor, encouraged people to come and see the exhibit for themselves. He said the experience of Inuit in the Residential School System is not as well-known as other Indigenous groups.

Minister Eric Robinson

Minister Eric Robinson

“The photos of this important exhibit and their stories need to be seen by many more people, and I would encourage our fellow citizens and fellow Manitobans to come and look.”

Fred Ford, President of the Manitoba Inuit Association, shared a moving letter sent to him by Theresie Tungilik, sister of Marius Tungilik – one of the survivors in the exhibit.

Fred Ford points at the panel of Marius Tungilik

Fred Ford points at the panel of Marius Tungilik

Theresie’s letter speaks of how her experience attending a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet, Nunavut impacted the families in her community.

One of the historical photos in the exhibit: Ikaluit school children, Nunavut, 1958

One of the historical photos in the exhibit: Ikaluit school children, Nunavut, 1958

Theresie tells of the times when it was difficult to talk about the experience with her brother, although in time Marius and other survivors were instrumental in getting people to share their stories. Through this process many have found some healing. In sharing Theresie’s letter, Fred noted that she is thriving, having found the strength for her own healing journey. Marius Tungilik died in 2012 at the age of 55.

Marius Tungilik

Marius Tungilik

Angie Hutchinson, Chair of United Way Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Relations Council, talked about United Way’s Aboriginal Relations Strategy and its goal of building knowledge, relationships, capacity and engagement within the Indigenous community and beyond.

Angie Hutchinson, Chair of United Way's Aboriginal Relations Council.

Angie Hutchinson, Chair of United Way’s Aboriginal Relations Council.

The exhibit, and the brave people sharing their stories, is advancing that goal, she said. “These courageous survivors, who have shared their experiences with the Legacy of Hope Foundation, will educate generations of Canadians and contribute to reconciliation across our nation.”

Closing the evening, Nikki Komaksiutiksak described some of the intergenerational effects of the residential school system in her own family. Drawing from the examples of resilience in her own history, and the inspiration of her daughters, Nikki found strength in the power of throat singing.

Nikki Komaksiutiksak

Nikki Komaksiutiksak

She finished with a mesmerizing performance of the ancient form of singing, developed when Inuit women learned to make noises that would attract animals, in order to feed their children.

United Way is honoured to invite all to our atrium to experience the exhibit for themselves. We know it’s a transformative time and that Winnipeggers are interested in learning more about our full history.

The exhibit open to the public at 580 Main Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday until November 30.

Visitors note: the exhibition contains subject matter that may be difficult for some visitors and to Survivors of the Residential School System.

United Way of Winnipeg’s Aboriginal Relations Council celebrates 10 years of walking together.

On the first full day of Summer, United Way and our Aboriginal Relations Council took a moment to celebrate our journey together.

Starting with an opening blessing from Elder Myra Laramee, more than 50 volunteers, staff and partners—like Winnipeg Boldness, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata and Eyaa-Keen—gathered at Thunderbird House to take a look back at the great work accomplished over the last ten years.

United Way’s Aboriginal Relations Council Members (l-r) Terry Grey, Reid Hartry (from Board of Trustees), Cathy Woods, Stephanie Zamora, Angie Hutchinson, Christine Cyr, Michael Champagne.

United Way’s Aboriginal Relations Council Members (l-r) Terry Grey, Reid Hartry (from Board of Trustees), Cathy Woods, Stephanie Zamora, Angie Hutchinson, Christine Cyr, Michael Champagne.

Myra reminded all those gathered how important it is to have allies and to share kinship with our neighbours.

The evening was also an opportunity to honour outgoing Council Chair Christine Cyr, who is stepping down after 6 incredible years. Angie Hutchinson will take her place as Council Chair.

Incoming Council Chair Angie Hutchinson, Elder Myra Laramee.

Incoming Council Chair Angie Hutchinson, Elder Myra Laramee.

Christine and Angie shared a number of milestones from the last few years including the blessing ceremony for United Way’s building at 580 Main Street and the gift of a talking stick from the Council to United Way.

The Aboriginal Relations Council is excited to celebrate during United Way of Winnipeg’s 50th Anniversary. The notion of acting with intergenerational responsibility, to honour and respect the people that came before us and the people who will come after, is one that resonates with the Indigenous community.

The 50th celebration’s spotlight on family resource centres is also in keeping with the Indigenous concept of all my relations—that we are all interconnected.

Indigenous Relations

Winnipeg’s Indigenous community has experienced a great deal of change over the last several years. It is young, vibrant and expected to grow faster than any other segment of our population.

“Aboriginal people, like all human beings, aren’t static in time,” said Dr. Judy Bartlett, a former member of United Way’s Council for Indigenous Relations. “Things change and flow and move forward. The environment in Winnipeg is different now than it was just five years ago. We have a whole new group of young people coming in.”

United Way’s Indigenous Relations Strategy builds on the strengths of the Indigenous community—and the strengths of United Way—in a collective effort to make Winnipeg a better city today and for the future.

Over the past several years, the Council for Indigenous Relations has increased the involvement of Winnipeg’s Indigenous community in all aspects of United Way’s work.

Today we invest nearly $2 million annually in 10 Indigenous-led Winnipeg organizations (PDF). This past fall, thanks to Winnipegger’s generous support, we were able to increase funding by $10,000 to each and to put out a funding call to new Indigenous-led nonprofits.

We first began investing in our city’s Indigenous-led nonprofits 50 years ago.

2014 Call for Proposals

For the 3rd year in a row, United Way of Winnipeg issued a ‘Call for Proposals’ for the Aboriginal Organizational Capacity Fund. The Fund provides support to individual not-for-profit Indigenous service organizations not currently funded by United Way.

Aboriginal Philanthropy in Canada: A Foundation for Understanding

“Aboriginal” and “philanthropy” are not words that come together often in Canada –
and we want to change that.

The time is ripe to develop Aboriginal philanthropy in Canada – to foster the involvement of philanthropic organizations in Indigenous communities and to develop Indigenous support for and involvement in philanthropic organizations. Both these goals require learning and change for both parties – Indigenous Peoples and philanthropic organizations.

Aboriginal Philanthropy in Canada Download the Full Report | The Circle Website

Eagle’s Eye View: An Environmental Scan of the Aboriginal Community in Winnipeg

First published in 2004, the Eagle’s Eye View environmental scan provided a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive, integrated, and holistic snapshot of the Indigenous community in Winnipeg.

A new edition of Eagle’s Eye View was published in June 2010. Download it below and email our Indigenous Relations Director with any questions or ideas.

Enviro scan of Wpg Aboriginal community 2010 – 2nd Edition | Enviro scan of Wpg Aboriginal community 2004 – 1st Edition