Posted by Bill Empey - Honouring Indigenous People, Rotary District 7070 Coordinator

Here is the latest Honouring Indigenous People Rotary News and Events, projects, blogs, photos, films, and resources. There are many major initiatives and resources available to you and your Rotary club. Your Club can help.  Our District 7070 Action Committee's Areas of Focus Coordinator is Bill Empey from the Rotary Club of Toronto   If you have a good news story, please send it to Bill. Here are some highlights .........

Click here to view their website. For more news, check the Areas of Focus Action Committees Menu Bar in the District Newsletter under HIP.  This rapidly growing nation-wide movement, HIP,  is a partnership between Indigenous Peoples & Rotarians. The new website contains stories about supporters, just like you and your Club, who are making an impact across Canada by taking action to create lasting change! Here is a link to their latest Newsletters. 

News :

HIP continues to be engaged with Rotary Clubs and First Nation communities and organizations in Rotary District 7070.  Highlights of activities during 2022-2023 include;

HIP (Honouring Indigenous People) hosts the First National Youth 2 Youth Engagement Event at Turtle Lodge, Winnipeg.

The first, national Y2Y Engagement event was held at Turtle Lodge in Winnipeg in late March.  The program succeeded with delivering several “firsts” including;

  • Bringing together indigenous and non-indigenous students from across Canada,

  • The collaboration of more than ten Rotary Districts in the funding, recruiting and organizing a shared event, and

  • Bringing together youth from First Nations, Metis and Inuit groups to share experiences and cultures.

Rotary Clubs in District 7070 supported and encouraged program.  Our growing network of Rotary Clubs, teachers, school boards and FN communities identified two outstanding high school students, from District 7070 to participate;

•              Ethan Basil is a non-indigenous Grade 11 student at Crescent School in Toronto.  Ethan is active in sports, community work and leadership training. 

•              Ella Montiel Ortega is a non-indigenous grade 12 student at the Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Newmarket.  Ella is involved in the music program, volunteers teaching swimming and has participated in an art program supporting Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.

Students appreciated;

  • Indigenous ceremonies

  • Land based teachings (skinning fish, cleaning rabbits)

  • Meeting other youth

  • Cultural awareness, connecting to the land

Clubs are encouraged to invite Ethan Basil and Ella Montiel Ortega to their meetings to hear more about their experience.

There is a strong sense of momentum and enthusiasm that has started plans for a national Y2Y event to be hosted in British Columbia in March 2024.  More information will be coming to the District Clubs in the next weeks.

Plans are underway for a Y2Y event in District 7070 and for including Indigenous youth in other programs.


The national program is now successfully completed and I am attaching CBC and CTV news coverage from Winnipeg. 

Misko Aki Confluence of Cultures, Digital Exhibition
HIP continues its support of the Misko-Aki; Convergence of Cultures project in Gravenhurst,  Muskoka.   The exhibit is an innovative plan for both a virtual and in-place exhibition of native history and culture.  The Huron-Wendat, Anishinaabek, Haudenosaunee, and Métis people have inhabited and traversed the Muskoka region (and most of District 7070) for millennia. Leaders from these communities have joined international, award winning artistic director Tim Johnson to form the Creative Indigenous Group that leads project.    Work is underway on an extension to the Muskoka Discovery Center in Gravenhurst.  The Centre has positioned itself at the leading edge of Indigenous museology to provide the Muskoka Region with a profound expression of reconciliation in action.  Rotary Clubs in District 7070 and 7010 have requested presentations and are considering their participation.

General Networking

HIP continues working with 7070 Clubs including arranging for District 7070 students, who attended the National Y2Y program in Winnipeg, to present at clubs including Toronto (Downtown), East York, Newmarket and Toronto West.  We are also assisting clubs with developing land acknowledgements and ideas for Club speakers, and support for youth and indigenous communities including activities in Toronto West and Bowmanville. 

HIP will be organizing a new Indigenous Action Group across District 7070.  I am inviting Clubs to have members already engaged with Indigenous groups to share their experience and keep current on all the indigenous related actions that are underway. 

Bill Empey

Honouring Indigenous People, District Coordinator, Rotary District 7070

Indigenous Partnership Working Group, Rotary Club of Toronto

(416) 482-4880


What is your club doing to Honour Indigenous People?

Please email Julie Dunaiskis ( with a brief summary so we can post on the HIP website and provide an update in upcoming newsletters. This will help other clubs and provide a sense of how we are involved. We do not know the precise number of clubs across Canada who are involved in educational and awareness activities, however, our guess is we are close to 175 and growing. Some clubs were involved well before HIP, many on their own and some because of our encouragement and leadership.


Julie Dunaiskis

Administrator, HIP (Honouring Indigenous Peoples)


Rotary District 7070 HIP Co-ordinator:

We are pleased to let everyone know that Bill Empey, Rotary Club of Toronto, continues his great work as our Rotary District 7070 HIP Co-ordinator. If you are looking for a speaker or for a project, Bill is definitely the person to contact. He can be reached at .


Request a Speaker - Would your club like to have a Speaker at an upcoming meeting?


BE INSPIRED BY HIP STORIES!  Read all HIP stories by visiting


Recommended Education: 

Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that explores Indigenous histories and contemporary issues in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores key issues facing Indigenous peoples today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations. Topics for the 12 lessons include the fur trade and other exchange relationships, land claims and environmental impacts, legal systems and rights, political conflicts and alliances, Indigenous political activism, and contemporary Indigenous life, art and its expressions. 

Click here to learn about Indigenous Canada


Events and Activities: 

Click here to see the full list of events and activities.


About HIP: Our Story, Our Logo, Our Mission and Vision: click here

LEARN & SHARE:  Click here

VIDEOS: Watch an assorted list of education, cultural & event videos

BOOKS: HIP has compiled a list of recommended reading

PODCASTS: Listen to leaders sharing thought-provoking conversations

TERMINOLOGY: Learn appropriate terms that show respect.

HIP BLOG: Sharing information and news from people just like you.



HIP continues to research, listen and learn. By visiting many Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, we seek to understand shared purpose and values. We thank the Knowledge Keepers, Rotarians, Elders, Teachers, Leaders, Allies, Stakeholders, Partners, Sponsors and other subject matter experts who have supported our journey and provided wisdom and guidance.  HIP is happy to share our knowledge and resources to inspire, engage, educate and enable Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship building.  If you do not find what you are looking for, please contact us

BECOME A HIP SPEAKER: Are you an Elder, Rotarian, Youth Leader, Knowledge Keeper or other subject matter expert? Join our roster of speakers!

CONNECT : Click here

Follow Chris’s journey on Facebook @70YearVolunteer & Twitter @70YearVolunteer
Hello, All,  She Kon

Working Together on the Environment..HIP, Y2Y and Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Youth

Climate change and the environment is front and centre in virtually every news outlet not only in Canada but around the world. COP29 in Cairo on climate change and COP15 on conservation in Montreal were attended by representatives from approximately 200 countries.COP15 included many Indigenous People. Getting every country to work together is a major challenge, however, coming out of the Montreal conference, after much wrangling, all countries lead by Canada have agreed to protect 30% of the world's land mass and marine areas by 2030. (Canada made this commitment several years ago). This was GREAT news.

Apart from these conferences, there have been an increasing number of calls to action for Non-Indigenous and Indigenous Peoples to work together on the environment lead by Indigenous Peoples who have a longer history of respect and caring for their lands and water. This is because of their history of living in harmony with other species, views that everything is interconnected and dependent on one another and all work together in caring for Mother Earth. In fact, this is the focus of a new environmental program at McGill initiated in part by Ken Dryden..yes, the hockey player, author, politician, concerned human being Ken Dryden.

Corporations are also taking note to include Indigenous perspectives in their corporate purpose and opportunities are waiting. Mark Podlasly, Sustainability Officer of First Nations Major Projects Coalition, Board Director of Hydro One and member of CN Railway's Indigenous Advisory Council on Indigenous involvement in energy, natural resources and infrastructure is part of a coalition playing a leading role in advancing discussions about inclusive, Indigenous-led growth in Canada. Read more about the FNMPC

Rotary has recently chosen the environment as one of their themes. So have Indigenous Peoples who among other things have their Guardians Program which champions and funds mainly young people to protect the lands on which they live. Protecting our planet is indeed a common cause in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples can work together.

On the action front, HIP has initiated a program, Youth-to-Youth (Y2Y) in which both young Indigenous and non-Indigenous Peoples come together to focus on Indigenous designed land-based education. There have already been several successful Y2Y programs delivered.You may know there is a major program being hosted by Rotary District 5550 March 25-31, 2023. In this program, 25 Indigenous and 25 non-Indigenous youth (high school) from every province and territory in Canada will come together at Turtle Lodge just outside Winnipeg. This gathering meets all of HIP's mandatesEducation, Awareness and Building of Relationships. It is being funded in part by the federal government, however, we do need you to participate!

Here are two ways you can:

  • Please encourage both Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth in your area to apply to come (there is no cost). See website
  • Help fund this exciting initiative. We are hoping 50 clubs from across Canada will contribute $1,500 or more
Working together on the environment is a fabulous way to work towards reconciliation and an idea whose time has come

Chris Snyder
Co-Chair, HIP (Honouring Indigenous Peoples)