Posted by John Currie, Executive Director, Honouring Indigenous People

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, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Your Club can help.  Our District 7070 Action Committee's Areas of Focus Coordinator is John Currie from the Pickering Rotary Club. John is also the  Executive Director of H I P and President of the Rotary Club of Pickering. He can be reached at .   If you have a good news story, please send it to John. Click here to view their new website and 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 are some highlights .........

A Recent Message from the Chair - Chris Snyder

Lest We Forget Indigenous War Heroes 

Every year on Nov 11th, we pause and reflect on war and give thanks to the men and women who fought and, in many cases, gave their lives on our behalf in various wars. 
This year, you may wish to consider giving special thanks to the estimated 14,800+ Indigenous* people who fought for Canada in the two world wars. This was in spite of their treatment by Canadian authorities, before, during and after the war. Most of their names sadly are unknown to us. 
Here are 3 who fit this category and one special group: 

Francis Pegahmagabow **Francis was a status member of the Shawanaga First Nation near Parry Sound. After being discouraged to join the military because he was Indigenous, he succeeded in joining the army as a volunteer in 1914. Peggy, as he was known, had great success capturing German soldiers and was also an outstanding sniper. (He was the model for the sniper in Joseph Boyden's book 3 Day Road). He fought at Ypres, Passchendale, Amiens and Arras. He was wounded and also gassed. He was, however, widely decorated. A beautiful memorial was built for him in Parry Sound several years ago. There is also a monument to him at Camp Borden. After the war, he became a vocal advocate for Indigenous rights and self determination and was a chief and band councillor often opposing the control of the Indian agent who among other things controlled his pension. He died in 1952 brought on in part by his war wounds. Peggy has been shortlisted to have his picture on one of Canada's $5 bills. Stop in sometime at the memorial if you drive by Parry Sound.

Tommy Prince **was one of Canada's most decorated Indigenous soldiers. Born in a tent on a reservation in Manitoba, he fought in the Second World War (Italy and France) and the Korean War. He was a member of the Brokenhead Band of Ojibwe. He was a survivor of a residential school and was an outstanding marksman and trekker, skills he learned from his youth as a hunter. He received 11 medals for his war efforts. After the war, he was not allowed to vote because he was Indigenous and did not receive the same benefits as non-Indigenous veterans. Sadly, he became an alcoholic, partly because of the life he was forced to live as an Indigenous person. His medals were auctioned off but later retrieved. He spent the past few years of his life in a Salvation Army shelter. More than 500 people attended his funeral.   
CODE Talkers Charles Checker Tompkins 
For years both Canadian and American governments have been trying to eliminate Indigenous languages. Yet, it was the Indigenous languages and Indigenous Peoples who saved the lives of thousands of American and Canadians during WW2. During WW2, many Indigenous soldiers became code talkers using their Indigenous languages and newly created Indigenous words to send messages. The Germans and Japanese could never break the codes. Many of the Canadians were assigned to work with their Navajo colleagues. 
One Code Talker was Charles Checker Tompkins, a Cree-Métis from Alberta. For a more complete story, go to Coincidently, Checker is a relative of our Cree-Métis board member, Karen Mackenzie from Edmonton. Karen's mother also joined the Canadian Army.
As you reflect on the war and its participants on Nov 11th, please think and give thanks to the many Indigenous peoples who went to war on behalf of all Canadians in spite of their status and treatment by the Canadian Government
* The actual number is unknown. This is the estimate of Yann Castlenot, a Quebec-based historian. 
** Source Wikipedia


Till next time, Migwetch (Thank You)

Chris Snyder

HIP Chairperson

Rotary Club of Toronto

ABOUT CHRIS: Chris is the author of Creating Opportunities: A Volunteer’s Memoir and an active member of the Rotary Club of Toronto. Chris is currently Chair of HIP (Honouring Indigenous Peoples) and Past Chair of the Canadian Landmine Foundation . He has sat on a number of not-for-profit boards, including currently serving on the board of CUSO and the Trudeau Centre of Peace, Conflict and Justice at the Munk Centre (University of Toronto).  He is the recipient of many volunteer and community service awards.


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 Nicole Patterson, Rotary Club of East York, is our Rotary District 7070 HIP Co-ordinator. If you are looking for a speaker or for a project, Nicole is definitely the person to contact. She can be reached at and by cell at 647-786-6465. 


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


Giving Tuesdays and HIP:

Giving Tuesday is a national Giving Day founded by Canada Helps and GIV3 that marks the opening day of the giving season. The movement encourages individuals and organizations to join together and find innovative ways to give back to charities, causes they support and their communities through the holiday season. This year is especially important to make a big difference.

Creating transformational change!
HIP is committed to bringing Indigenous and Non-Indigenous peoples together to make the greatest possible social impact and achieve our vision of lasting change and a stronger Canada. HIP is a grassroots approach to truth and reconciliation that connects and creates environments for relationship building and strengthening community well-being.

  • HIP delivers cultural awareness and safety education: HIP hosts events, develops content, initiates dialogue and generates awareness about the true history of Indigenous people in Canada and dispel myths, assumptions and misconceptions. This is an essential first step to building relationships and working with Indigenous people.
  • HIP facilitates peer-to-peer engagement circles: HIP inspires social participation to reduce barriers by bringing Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples together to collaborate on common interests or work on shared challenges. From students building robots and experiencing historic canoe adventures, to communities hosting shared events and working together to battle COVID19, common interests and shared challenges become an important vehicle for relationship building. 
  • HIP provides essential support for Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship building:  HIP connects and supports Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationship building by providing guidance and resources. 

THANK YOU for your continued support of HIP and our programs!

Most Recent Stories:

Reconciliation | Land Acknowledgements
A land acknowledgement is a single act of reconciliation. Recent version of land acknowledgements have been inspired by the 94 Calls-to-Action published in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada report.


Anishinaabeg Artist & HIP Team Up To Remove Barriers

A young Indigenous high school artist, Amberlee King, struggled with the loss of her father. When Amberlee was asked to paint a mural for the Project Journey Classroom, she immediately accepted.


HIP Welcomes Leona Antoine To The Team
HIP is excited to welcome and announce the appointment of Leona Antoine, of the Nlka'pamux/Sylix Nation and a Lower Nicola Indian Band Member.


DFC Partners With Welcome Box Team to Remove Education Barriers
With the closure of Dennis Franklin Cromarty (DFC) High School in Thunder Bay in March, the beginning of a new school year in September meant some real challenges for the hundreds of students, many from remote fly-in communities, who will shortly return to the community.


Click here to read the Stories

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