IFIP is grateful for all the support in making our World Summit on Indigenous Philanthropy such a success. We could not have done this without our Planning Committee, sponsors, participants and volunteers. We hope that the Summit inspired you and that the person-to-person sharing of information and strategies results in direct giving to Indigenous communities all over the globe.
Now that we have had time to reflect on the Summit, former IFIP Board Chair and current Executive Director of The Christensen Fund, Ken Wilson, succinctly ties the entire Summit together in his closing remarks stating, “IFIP has become a valuable part of the global indigenous movement that has grown in recent decades from despised obscurity to extraordinary successes…securing achievements that our otherwise wobbling, lovely planet desperately needs for ALL its peoples.” You can continue reading Ken’s remarks below or click here.
We thank you again and challenge everyone to keep the momentum going!
International Funders for Indigenous Peoples – World Summit on Indigenous Philanthropy
New York, September 2014
Ken Wilson (Christensen Fund)
Reflecting on our New York IFIP World Congress this week in Brooklyn as a former Board Chair closely associated with the organization for a dozen of its fifteen years of existence I was struck most by our growth and maturity. What began as a small spring, with a handful of funders, and then became a stream, has now become a river: wider, deeper, more beautiful and ever more swirling; and now replete with fish and all manner of other delicious things. And we should celebrate that.
Indeed, IFIP has become a valuable part of the global indigenous movement that has grown in recent decades from despised obscurity to extraordinary successes, and again this week with the WCIP, securing achievements that our otherwise wobbling, lovely planet desperately needs for ALL its peoples.
Here’s my take on the themes emerging from our time together in Brooklyn:
1. Jaune Evans captured what I think is our first theme when she referred to all the references to advancing“zero tolerance for inequality and exclusion” of and within Indigenous peoples.
a. In fact Brooklyn will go down as the meeting that was creatively disrupted by the indigenous disabilities movement. With Diana Samarasan we have in the past considered the parallels between the disabilities movement and the Indigenous movements, including “nothing about us, without us”, but this time the indigenous disabilities movement attended and challenged us directly. And I want to thank them for their courage, including Olga Mantufa, who pressed a question in every session I went to. We have to learn how to hear you and how to fully engage people with disabilities at all levels in our grantmaking strategies.
b. In Brooklyn we also felt the surging strength of the Indigenous women’s movement, so well represented here and today, and achieving deserved attention in five paragraphs of the WCIP Declaration. We as donors, including Christensen Fund (who I understand emerges as one of the top funders on this issue), are still learning how to step up and properly back this crucial movement.
c. But I want to raise a third area in which it is time for zero tolerance; that of indigenous Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans-Sexual rights. As a consequence, largely, of the Indigenous Youth movement, the World Conference Preparatory meetings in Alta included specific reference to LGBT rights in its preamble. Although these rights are not directly referenced in the WCIP Declaration this week, the skilled negotiation of the Indigenous caucus ensured that the Alta Declaration was annexed to this WCIP Declaration. So those rights are still referenced. I think it is well time. Indeed, while no longer with any formal role myself, I call on IFIP to include, at its next conference, a series of diverse panels and other for a where the indigenous LGBT movement have an opportunity to tell us their challenges, vision and strategies.
2. The second theme here in Brooklyn is that we have never been more clearly called to “decolonize philanthropy”, as our opening Mohawk speaker, Roberta Jamieson, named it. Neither have we been so deeply pressed to properly consider the principle of Reciprocity, one of IFIP’s long standing “four Rs”, in the relationship between foundation and grantee. Reciprocity meant that this relationship should not be one of “us and them”, as someone put it. Indeed as Myrna Cunningham said just now philanthropy should be part of a “healing process”, not just a giving one. For these insights I say “Galato”, the Oromiya term we were introduced to by Hussein Isack in their session; the term used in inter-generational commitment by someone receiving support to indicate that as they have received they will return.
3. The third theme this meeting has been that of “advancing alternative development paths”. The Indigenous movement has now won numerous legal rights to self-determination. The next opportunity now being pursued is working out how these will be realized practically in the lives of Indigenous Peoples and for their territories. We have been clear at this meeting that this should mean much more than just less bad external projects. The key idea expressed so often in the sessions here is that Indigenous Peoples are now advancing solidly to define their own development paths towards “buen vivir” a good life of wellbeing, a development with identity, a culture-based development, a widely shared concept labeled in different ways by different groups. Many of you have shared exciting ideas about this, ideas which we can all – I believe including states –rally around as practical solutions to our global crises of need, sustainability and the human spirit.
We have heard that these indigenous development paths are being formulated as inter-generational plans. They are not an effort to return to the past, but they are strongly rooted in the values, governance systems, environmental relationships, and long-term territorial thinking that for the most part characterizes that indigenous past; only that all this is now made contemporary. At the same time these paths deliver new aspirations for education, health, and connection to the wider world: but on Indigenous Peoples’ own terms. These plans, we have seen, are also replete with indigenous innovation and formulated through powerful participatory processes. And they are starting to achieve deep results.
In short self-determination is starting to deliver for Indigenous Peoples in ways that states and wider social movements can and should look upon not in fear but in friendship and wonder. This is because indigenous aspirations are typically – at core – human aspirations; and what you seek to achieve is something much more deeply satisfying than – say – more “less bad” World Bank projects. I’m referring to the themes of many of our discussions: live indigenous food sovereignty; decentralized renewable energy. I’m referring to the discussions of building investible circular economies in which Program-Related and Mission-Related Investments (PRIs/MRIs) build indigenous economies that renewably and efficiently deliver human wellbeing.
4. This brings us to the fourth theme for me of our meeting here in New York: “Indigenous Philanthropy”. At this meeting we have explored the dimensions of indigenous philanthropy more deeply than ever, and I think with greater excitement. We have witnessed:
a. New partnerships such as the one just announced between the Sacred Fire Foundation and the “good waters” (Mino-Niibi Fund) of the Cultural Conservancy where funders and indigenous organizations share resources, vision and process;
b. The growing efforts to share with indigenous peoples the stewardship of existing foundations and funding streams, for example the extraordinary achievements of the McKenzie Foundation of New Zealand/Aotearoa, our annual awardee; and the Indigenous Peoples’ Fund at IFAD.
c. And the building of indigenous-controlled funds, such as the Kivulini Trust here from Kenya, and FIMI the Indigenous Women’s Fund. What these innovative entities are doing was powerfully summarized by one of FIMI’s beneficiaries from Oaxaca who said in the session that FIMI was “rupturing the vertical paternalistic relationships” of the donors – and that through its multi-threaded support FIMI was undertaking a “new manner of weaving – not just money but network”. Now that is the kind of decolonization of philanthropy that we can surely all get behind.