MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR
Dear IFIP members and friends,
Warm Summer Greetings! I am pleased and honored to write to you as the new Executive Director of International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP). Last September, I had the fortune to step in as Interim Executive Director to build on the accomplishments and tenure of outgoing founding Executive Director, Evelyn Arce. Since then, IFIP welcomed our new strategic framework that brings a period of reaffirmation to our mission and renewal. I want to take a moment to acknowledge and thank IFIP’s board members, who helped make the transition a smooth one, and to so many of you who support IFIP and lead the work to support and advance Indigenous Peoples’ rights.
Over the last months, I have had the privilege of organizing two regional IFIP conferences, the Regional Pacific Hui this spring and our Latin American Indigenous Funders Conference last October. At both events, concepts around intersectionality and inclusion became centerpieces in several conversations. Our IFIP Pacific Regional Hui, for example, illuminated the importance of intersectional approaches that elevated Indigenous voices in larger movements such as climate change and health. The Hui’s first keynote speaker, Dr. Rhys Jones illustrated how climate change is an extension of colonization. Therefore, long-term sustainable solutions must be underpinned by “Indigenous self-determination and prioritize Indigenous knowledge”. Likewise, a second keynote speaker, Dr. Lance O’Sullivan shared the story behind his efforts to democratize healthcare for communities with limited access to care. This disproportionally affected the Māori people, therefore his solution, iMoko, centered on illnesses impacting Maori children.
During our Latin America Indigenous Funders conference last October, themes of inclusion and intersectionality also emerged, in this case many of the discussions focused on incorporating inclusion in Indigenous communities and philanthropy. IFIP board member, Angela Martinez, highlighted the importance of funders recognizing the diversity among Indigenous communities, including the multiple forms of oppression faced by those with multiple identities. She advocated for a cross-movement approach, explaining, “an intersectional approach, as a grantmaking tool, has the potential to build bridges among different struggles and movements. Collaborations need to be more intersectional as a whole.”
These conversations at IFIP’s recent events and our 2015 Boston Regional meeting inspired the aim of our newsletter: to share the rich knowledge of funders, Indigenous activists and allies who are committed to making Indigenous philanthropy and the Indigenous movement more inclusive. The four stories in this newsletter include the wisdom and experiences of four champions tackling the complexity of an intersectional and inclusive approach. This includes lessons learned from IFIP’s members, a funder focused on disability rights in philanthropy and an Indigenous rights organization determined to incorporate LGBTQI rights in the communities they partner with in the Philippines. We also include Indigenous leaders’ voices making waves by incorporating women and disability rights in the larger Indigenous rights movement; and pioneering solutions underpinned by gender equity in biodiversity efforts.
IFIP’s mission is to promote solutions that are led and understood by Indigenous Peoples. Yet IFIP recognizes that “Indigenous Peoples” are not a homogenous group, but made of individuals with complex identities with their Indigenous heritage and experiences as the binding thread that brings them together. As one contributor to this newsletter shared, Bestang Dekdeken, “Indigenous rights are human rights”. Intersectional and inclusive approaches are essential if Indigenous philanthropy aims to leave no one behind. I invite you to engage on this approach, join the dialogue with other funders and with your partners.
I look forward to working with you, our members and supporters, to continue to advance Indigenous rights and expand access to funding for Indigenous Peoples.
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