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DART Update - January 2015
In September 2013, the keynote speaker at the District Conference, the Right Honourable Paul Martin, spoke to us about the lower education levels and lower standards of living, relative to non-indigenous Canadians, prevalent in many Aboriginal communities across Canada.  During his conversation with Conference participants, Mr. Martin suggested that Rotary could assist with improving Aboriginal educational outcomes and quality of life, by helping to promote a better understanding of the culture, experience, rights and history of Canada’s Aboriginal people, through its network of service clubs.  In 2014, in response to Mr. Martin’s suggestion, a District Aboriginal Resource Team (DART) was constituted in District 7080.  DART’s vision is to foster dialogue and relationships between indigenous communities and clubs in District 7080, and its mission is to act as a resource group to clubs in the District who:
  1. wish to enlarge their knowledge about indigenous traditions, culture and protocol; and
  2. seek the opportunity to collaborate with indigenous groups.
To achieve these objectives, DART plans to establish and expand its Aboriginal network by building relationships with Aboriginal groups and organizations; will gather and disseminate information to the District about other resource groups dedicated to promoting understanding, partnerships or relation-building between indigenous and non-indigenous communities; and will catalogue and publicize Aboriginal events taking place in the District.  All of these activities are intended to build awareness and to enable individual clubs, seeking to promote Aboriginal well-being.
During 2014, DART met with the Waterloo Aboriginal Education Centre at St. Paul’s University College, University of Waterloo and partnered with the Education Centre on an Indigenous Peoples Information Session held at St. Paul’s in June.  In November DART met with Honouring Indigenous People or HIP, an organization of Rotarians and Rotary clubs working in partnership with indigenous people in Canada and other interested parties, whose focus is also on education.  An article about HIP was in DG Patsy’s January newsletter.  This year we’ll continue to enlarge our network of Aboriginal groups and organizations.  A couple of the first meetings, planned for 2015,  are with Neegan  Burnside, an Aboriginal-owned engineering and environmental consulting firm with over 1500 completed projects in more than 300 Aboriginal communities, and the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle, an Aboriginal non-profit working with local colleges and arts groups to establish a friendship and cultural centre in Orangeville.
DART will also begin cataloging and publicizing Aboriginal events taking place in the District.  With that end in mind, a short DART survey will be sent to all 7080 clubs in February.  Through the survey we hope to identify those clubs that are participating, or are planning to participate, in Aboriginal focused initiatives, as well as clubs that are interested in learning more about how Rotary can facilitate engagement with Aboriginal communities and/or assisting Aboriginal communities in the future.  The DART team thanks you in advance for taking the time to complete the survey.  Once the survey responses have been compiled, we’ll follow up with all clubs who indicate interest or initiatives already in process.  Then we’ll begin developing our catalogue or database, as well as determine the most effective ways to publicize Aboriginal events and to disseminate information across the District.  Stay tuned for further details!  We’ll be sending out updates throughout the year.