Ontario is creating a new fund to support Indigenous cultural expression and ways of life. The new fund is part of Ontario’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.  We thank the Commission and all the survivors who shared their stories for pointing the way forward.

The Indigenous Culture Fund (ICF) is designed to support community-centred Indigenous cultural activities. The Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) are hosting engagement meetings for Indigenous individuals, organizations and community members across Ontario to learn about ICF and provide input on the proposed program design. The fund will be administered by OAC and the program will launch in the fall of 2017.

Before the fund is launched, we want Indigenous community feedback on:
  1. The name and the goals of the fund.
  2. The criteria for who can apply and what they can apply for.
  3. The process applicants will use to apply for funding.
  4. The assessment process that OAC will use to make decisions, including the selection process for assessment panels.
  5. The reporting and evaluation process applicants will be asked to follow.
  6. How to best support applicants and any other comments to help ensure the success of the fund.
  7. Other considerations.
  • All responses to this form are anonymous and confidential.

* 1. Do you identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit?

* 2. The proposed name for this fund is the Indigenous Culture Fund.  What are your thoughts about this name?

* 3. The proposed goals of the fund are to:
  • Support the vitality and diversity of Indigenous expression and ways of life.
  • Empower Indigenous peoples in strengthening their communities in ways that reflect their values and priorities.
  • Engage children, youth, elders and families in activities that create well-being and build resilience.
  • Increase capacity and opportunities for Indigenous peoples to engage in and share cultural practices, knowledge and learning.

Are these the right goals for the fund? What would you change or add?

* 4. The criteria for who can apply

Eligible applicants
must self-identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis or Inuit) and may include the following:
  • Indigenous organizations, collectives or ad hoc groups including:
    • band councils, tribal councils, Métis community councils, and province-wide umbrella organizations.
    • Indigenous-run community centres, cultural centres, Friendship Centres, libraries, schools and health and social services organizations.
  • Indigenous individuals working in collaboration with a community.
  • Projects in partnership and collaboration with non-Indigenous organizations, communities or individuals are eligible, but the applicant must be Indigenous. Funding will only be granted to Indigenous applicants. 
  • One application on behalf of multiple organizations, communities or groups will be accepted, but there must be a lead organization that will be accountable for the project.

What are your thoughts on the eligibility criteria?

* 5. The criteria for what applicants can apply for

What activities can Indigenous community members apply for? Examples of project-based eligible activities include, but are not limited to:
  • Way of Life: land-based, language-based, spiritual and ceremonial activities.
  • Learning and Exchange: sharing knowledge and cultural practices between generations, organizations, communities or groups.
  • Cultural Safe-Keeping:  preserving, sharing and working with historical and cultural artifacts; training archeological monitors; providing youth with education in archeology and historical artifacts.
  • Community Well-Being: supporting well-being and resilience, particularly among youth.
  • Youth Leadership: fostering leadership among youth through youth-led or youth-driven projects or projects with a mentorship focus.
  1. What are your thoughts about the activity criteria?
  2. Are there other types of activities not listed above that could benefit from this fund?

* 6. Proposed funding categories and amounts

How much can applicants apply for? There will be three funding categories:
  • Small grants: Grants under $5,000 (small projects, materials and supplies, development).
  • Mid-sized grants: Grants from $5,000 to $30,000 (one year or less).
  • Large project grants: Grants from $30,000 to $75,000 (may apply for up to two years with a maximum of $75,000 per year).
  • A larger fixed maximum may be established for province-wide umbrella organizations applying on behalf of multiple local organizations.
  • Umbrella organizations are not be eligible for small grants.
  1. What are your thoughts about the funding categories and amounts?
  2. Are there other funding categories that should be considered?

* 7. The assessment process that OAC will use to make decisions

How will applications be assessed?
  • The OAC will use its well-established peer assessment process to review project applications and make decisions.
  • ICF grants will be decided by all-Indigenous assessment panels.
  • Assessment will be made up of diverse Indigenous individuals, who will review each application and meet to discuss them based on previously-announced assessment criteria. They will make the funding decisions.
    • Indigenous individuals representing different regions and practice areas will be invited to serve as assessors.
    • Each program deadline will have its own assessment panel, made up of different individuals, to ensure fairness, equity and transparency.
  • OAC has existing contacts with Indigenous people and communities across Ontario and will continue to expand its pool of potential assessors for ICF to ensure that people with the appropriate expertise are making decisions on project funding.

What are the assessment criteria?
  • The assessment is informed by answers to the questions in each section of the application, support material and budget. Assessors will be guided by the ICF Program Officer to discuss each application with respect, open-mindedness and generosity.
  • Assessment criteria include:
    • impact and community benefit
    • project readiness and viability
    • alignment with program goals
  • Other considerations may include:
    • regional distribution
    • distribution among different nations and groups

Intellectual property and confidentiality

  • Applicants retain full control and ownership over all intellectual property; the OAC does not have any rights or ownership over funded projects.
  • Applicants will not be required to share sensitive cultural information that they wish to remain confidential.

  1. What are your thoughts about the assessment process and criteria?
  2. What suggestions do you have to ensure the application process is clear, fair, and accessible?

* 8. The reporting and evaluation process applicants will be asked to follow

How will applicants report on the success of their projects?
  • The OAC will create final report forms that are simple and accessible.
  • The reporting process will focus on telling the stories of what the funding supported.
  • Small grants will have short, simplified reporting.
What suggestions do you have to ensure the reporting and evaluation process are as simple as possible, but also effective?

* 9. How to best support applicants

What support is available for applicants?
  • The OAC’s ICF staff (including staff based in Northern Ontario) will work with applicants to help them prepare their applications. 
  • Feedback will be provided to unsuccessful applicants to support them in writing future applications.
What kinds of supports or help do you think should be provided to applicants?

* 10. What other suggestions or concerns do you have about the proposed program framework?