Future Intended: History Matters

Learning about history is crucial to how we engage in the present and frame the future. We’re proud to support a series of programs led by, and geared to, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, people of colour) communities that enhance historical literacy to tackle pressing issues like colonialism and racism.

Retracing Colonial Histories in Hamilton

Hamilton, like Canada as a whole, is steeped in a history of colonialism. This is the focus of a new program from Righting Relations, a women-led, pan-Canadian network of adult educators working towards a more just Canada through political and economic literacy. The program consists of a series of workshops with historical topics like the Water Walkers, Hamilton’s Black Community, Six Nations land struggles, 1492 Land Back and the Red Hill Valley Parkway. Workshops will feature storytelling with panel discussions, witness testimonials, community leaders and activists.


This program from Filipinas of HamOnt takes its meaning from the Filipino words saysay (sense) and kasaysayan (history). Drawing on experts from the local Filipina-Canadian community, the focus is on the “hyphenated” histories and contexts of Philippine, Southeast Asian, and Canadian heritage. The program combines workshops, a networking event, and a collaborative video production in time for the Philippine Independence Day on June 12.


History can function to build character, generate pride and provide role models. A program from RAFIKI, an organization that supports Congolese and other Francophone Africans in Canada, seeks to help Black children of the French-speaking community discover their history and learn about the contribution of Black Canadians to Canada’s development.

Educating through video

TRAD started as a club at McMaster University in 2013 and has evolved into an online magazine that explores African cultures, ideas, philosophies and traditions, and serves Black youth in Ontario. An HCF grant will support TRAD in developing informative and interactive videos designed to connect local Black youth to Hamilton’s African diaspora and to one another.

Nuestra Historia

Asocacion Fraternidad Hispana (AFH) is a local organization committed to the inclusion and progress of Hamilton’s Hispanic community. A new program from AFH looks to help Hamilton’s Latin American community learn and engage with its roots. In collaboration with McMaster students, expert-led workshops (including Black and Indigenous Latin community members) will delve into topics such as race, identity and colonialism in Latin American history.

Our Future Intended blog is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in areas such as physical activityIndigenous communitiesliteracyfoodcommunity theatreseniors, our pandemic response and more.

Transforming Hamilton for trans-feminine folk

If you were assigned male at birth but identify as a woman, you may consider yourself trans-feminine. While some safe spaces exist where Two-Spirit and LGBTQ+ Hamiltonians can spend time with peers, a program run by Compass Community Health (CCH) is helping to address a gap in support for trans- feminine people in the city.

An Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund grant is helping CCH, along with key partners Kyle’s Place and speqtrum, to create three trans-feminine peer support groups: one for youth, one for adults, and one to encourage intergenerational sharing.

The idea came from members of the trans-feminine community. The groups will be run by two peer facilitators who will receive training and ongoing support from several organizations, including the AIDS Network and YWCA. Along with CCH staff, these agencies will also support both the development and the health of peer facilitators whose work makes them susceptible to vicarious trauma and burnout. In turn, the agencies will benefit from hearing trans-feminine perspectives. Ongoing feedback will shape program delivery and ultimately help address gaps in trans-feminine research.

Excerpt from 2021 Spring Legacy newsletter

Supporting students

Hamilton’s high-school graduation rates have improved over the past decade, but there are still pockets of the city where students struggle. With HCF support, Munar Learning Center will expand its already successful after- school programming for Somali-Canadian students using the award-winning Pathways to Education model.

Some 80 students aged 10 to 17 at Hess Street Public School, Dr. Davey Elementary School and Bernie Custis Secondary School will receive one-on-one and group literacy and numeracy support, including six hours of tutoring a week. Building on already successful relationships with families, program volunteers — which include parents — will attend parent-teacher interviews, connect with teachers regarding student progress, track student attendance, encourage parent participation and help students set academic and social goals. Students with learning disabilities will receive individualized action plans.

The program is promoted by downtown mosques and local youth-serving organization Empowerment Squared, which helps recruit volunteers.

Excerpt from 2021 Spring Legacy newsletter

Mental health for all

Maintaining mental health is a challenge for many people and COVID-19 has made it worse. Fifty percent of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. In Hamilton, Shalem Mental Health Network has seen demand for its services increase 25 percent. Still, many can’t afford to get help.

With support from HCF, Shalem’s Counselling Assistance Program will allow 150 children, youth, couples, families and seniors on the margins and struggling with poverty and housing, to access psychotherapy sessions at a reduced cost.

Sessions are offered by video call unless there are safety, privacy or technology concerns that warrant in-person, socially-distanced meetings. Treatment plans identify sources of ongoing support once sessions are completed. Clients are asked to contribute a small sum to increase their own engagement in the process.

The short-term interventions used by Shalem staff have been shown to result in strong outcomes, balancing quality of care and cost.

Future Intended: Pandemic Response

In March 2020, Ontario declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Like many cities across Canada, Hamilton went into lockdown. Intended to keep people safe, the lockdown also meant that many vulnerable Hamiltonians could no longer access needed services in traditional ways. HCF established the Pandemic Response Fund to support charities working on the frontlines to keep people safe, healthy and connected. These are just a few local programs and organizations we’ve supported over the past several months.
Elizabeth Fry Society


    • In a crisis, the basics of life become a primary concern. When the pandemic hit Hamilton, Elizabeth Fry Society helped ease the worries of vulnerable women with comfort kits that included toiletries, clothing, food, hygiene products and baby essentials. The society serves criminalized women released from prison, homeless women and sex workers.

Islamic Relief Canada

    • Food security was a significant challenge when the pandemic hit, especially for populations that are already historically underserved. A grant from our Pandemic Response Fund supported the Barakah Box program, a joint venture with Mishka Social Services to provide culturally appropriate food boxes at the Hamilton Mountain Mosque. Clients include low-income families, newcomer and refugee families, seniors, and people who are differently-abled.

L’Arche Hamilton

    • Restrictions on in-person gatherings made it difficult to keep connected. A grant from HCF helped L’Arche to maintain appropriate levels of care for their clients, adults with intellectual disabilities. The purchase of new laptops allowed staff to work remotely and funds were also used to purchase “workpods” – private space dividers including beds – to set up in empty office spaces while staff worked from home. The spaces could be used to quarantine staff and clients in the event of infection.

Refuge Centre for Newcomer Health

    • The pandemic has a disproportionate effect on different communities, one of which is newcomers. Language barriers intensify this inequity. With support from HCF, Refuge Centre for Newcomer Health provided 600 hours of translation services to help newcomers navigate key pandemic information related including how to access government supports.

Wellwood Resource Centre

    • For people already dealing with serious illnesses, the pandemic was yet another challenge, from isolation to vulnerability and anxiety about entering hospitals and doctor’s offices. A grant from HCF helped Wellwood Resource Centre to make a transition to virtual programming and increased online resources. This builds on the organization’s plan for a “virtual community of support” for clients unable to come to its physical offices.

Our Future Intended blog is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in areas such as physical activity, Indigenous communities, literacy, food, community theatre, seniors and more.

Hamilton Lawyers step up to provide critical grants during COVID Crisis

Some of Hamilton’s youngest citizens will have access to much-needed support during the COVID crisis thanks to the latest grants from the Lawyers’ Legacy for Children – Ray Harris Fund.

The Fund recently made grants totaling $19,000 to Essential Aid and Neighbour-2-Neighbour, two local organizations that focus on food security.

Essential Aid focuses on nutrition for children under four and fills a critical gap in the food bank system by stocking a wide range of infant formulas. Infant nutrition needs are unique and many formula-fed babies can’t tolerate a change, but   traditional food banks are unable to provide a selection of formula as it is expensive and product donations are difficult to acquire. Essential Aid also provides other high demand items such as diapers, baby food, and children’s hygiene items.

The grant to Neighbour-2-Neighbour will support its critical work for local families, with a focus on food security, access to tutoring programs for children, family supports and a wide range of other services.

Lawyers’ Legacy for Children – the Ray Harris Fund is a permanent endowment fund of Hamilton Community Foundation, which  was established in 2006 with a mission to: “collectively inspire and enable children and young people to nourish and develop their knowledge, talents and values in the spirit of community, generosity and responsibility which has characterized the contributions of Hamilton’s lawyers”. To date it has made grants of over $100,000 to local charities to assist children and young people in our community.

“We’re privileged to be able to provide these grants to help address the crucial and ongoing needs that have been intensified by the pandemic,” says Dermot Nolan, who spearheaded the creation of the Fund as a way for Hamilton’s lawyers to collectively help children and young people in need. “Our goal is to help our community provide them with the essentials they deserve to help them realize their dreams and live healthy and fulfilling lives.”

Future Intended: It’s only natural

The reality of climate change intensifies the need to support our natural environment. These programs address environmental concerns but also build inclusive communities to ensure equitable outcomes.

  • A Rocha: Operation Wild
    The impulse to care for our natural environment can come from many sources. For Christian conservation organization A Rocha, it is a religious commitment and Operation Wild is an expression of that. The program leverages local organizations that support adults with disabilities to help them become leaders in their communities in the areas of conservation, stewardship and environmental education.
  • Beautiful Alleys: Birge Street Parkette
    This project is another chapter in the Beautiful Alleys story of improving alleys and green spaces in Hamilton to make them safe and welcoming. The Birge Street Parkette will be an enhanced green space across from the General Hospital available to hospital staff, patients, local residents and visitors. It will also provide safe, accessible pathways for pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Boys and Girls Club of Hamilton: Woodland
    Cultivating meaningful relationships with the natural world can start at a young age. The Woodland project provides families and pre-school kids with access to environmental education on the Red Hill Valley trail and Green Venture and McQuesten Urban Farm green spaces. A certified “forest school” teacher and an early childhood educator take families into the woods for an opportunity to develop a love of nature.
  • Green Cities Foundation: Green My City, Hamilton Barton Village
    Barton Village is getting a green makeover: more trees, shrubs, plants and perennials. It’s all courtesy of the Green My City program whose purpose is to improve green spaces for the betterment of people who live in the area, especially the most vulnerable like children and the elderly. Outcomes include cleaner air, reduced traffic noise and more shaded areas to cool down hot summer streets.
  • Green Venture: Canopy for Community
    Canopy for Community brings together partners Green Venture and Trees for Hamilton to engage youth and local residents in enhancing Hamilton’s urban forest. Through learning about nature-based climate solutions and the importance of urban forest for community health, participants will take direct action with the goal of planting more than 500 new trees.

Our Future Intended blog is an ongoing series that spotlights some of our most recent granting in areas such as physical activity, Indigenous communities, literacy, food, community theatre, seniors and more.

From runoff to resource

In Dundas, flooding is more than a headline. It’s prompting action. And Green Venture wants people to see the results.

The environmental non-profit is teaming up with local cycling groups to host a bike tour showcasing half a dozen green infrastructure projects in the valley town, including the Depave Paradise garden at Yorkview Elementary School which replaces pavement with gardens.

Tour participants will learn how the projects use nature-mimicking strategies, such as rain gardens, permeable pavers, rain barrels, trees and naturalized plantings, to increase resilience to flooding and decrease the impact of storm water runoff. A followup workshop will invite community members to identify future green infrastructure projects for Dundas.

The tour and workshop are funded by HCF’s Dougher Community Fund, which supports and enhances programs and services in Dundas.



Excerpt from 2019 Fall Legacy newsletter

Ride on

Eight young people will be riding high this fall at The Equestrian Association for the Disabled (TEAD), thanks to scholarships supported by HCF.

Located in Mount Hope, TEAD is the only organization in Hamilton to offer therapeutic riding to children and youth with cognitive, physical, behavioural and communication disabilities. Specially trained therapy horses are the main event, while credentialed instructors oversee the programs. The Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre provides referrals and helps develop individualized riding plans.

Studies have shown that children with disabilities who participate in therapeutic riding experience many physical, social and emotional benefits. The scholarships will ensure that cost isn’t a barrier to participation.



Excerpt from 2019 Fall Legacy newsletter

Investing in a cleaner future

A new Hamilton Community Foundation impact investment in a renewable natural gas project will help reduce carbon emissions by approximately 110,000 tonnes over the next 15 years.

The project, led by Oakville-based BerQ RNG, will use refining equipment to create renewable gas from organic waste. Like-minded investors The Atmospheric Fund, Verge, and London Community Foundation are also partners in the project.

HCF’s investment reflects an interest in projects that have the potential to be catalytic. BerQ RNG has six additional projects in the works that will result in an estimated 944,000-tonne reduction in carbon emissions. The project could also help to advance effective climate policy by demonstrating the commercial benefits of renewable natural gas over fossil gas.

“This investment exemplifies how we continue to use our assets not only to provide strong financial returns to support our grants to charities, but also to support positive environmental change,” says Annette Aquin, Executive VP Finance & Operations at HCF.

Excert from 2019 Fall Legacy newsletter