Newest link in Cootes to Escarpment chain makes Hamilton “naturally connected”


I have found in my work with landscape painting a very interesting phenomena. I find that a location, while the image seems like it could be anywhere, is so recognizable to the people of the area. Our landscape is precious to us. Cootes Paradise is a refuge and a resource that I am honoured to have translated into my language of colour, shape and light. I ‘own’ it now. Just like Hamiltonians do too. Julia Veenstra, Artist

Buying property, they say, is all about location—especially when it comes to the purchase of two critical pieces of land in the Dundas Valley, made possible by Hamilton Community Foundation.

The properties sit in the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System, an ongoing initiative to protect, connect and restore more than 9,600 acres of some of Canada’s most biologically diverse land. The two properties, both located in the Pleasant View area, now create a protected wildlife corridor stretching from marsh to Mountain.

“These two properties were the key to everything,” says Jen Baker, land securement coordinator for the EcoPark System. “We wanted them for years. Now there’s a permanent dark green link between Cootes and the escarpment.”

Both properties are nesting sites for endangered birds and home to wild plants. “They are significant both in terms of the role they play in the landscape and the habitat they provide,” Jen says.

The EcoPark System’s partner organizations had enough funds to buy one property and had been told the second would have a year-long closing, giving them time to raise the extra money. Suddenly the game changed: they would have to purchase both properties at once. That’s where HCF came in.

The Foundation stepped up with support on a number of fronts. A grant from the Frank Charles Miller Fund helped buy the first property, and the Heather and Ross Hamlin Fund not only provided a grant to help with the land purchase but is also offering another $150,000 to match funds raised from individuals in the community. The Foundation also provided a loan through its Hamilton Community Investment Fund.

“The whole deal would have fallen through without HCF,” Jen says. “We might have been able to go back to the table at some point, but it would have put the whole project in jeopardy for an indefinite period of time.”

“This project is not only exciting because of the land it protects,” says Annette Aquin, HCF’s Executive Vice-President of Finance and Operations. “It also uses HCF’s full complement of resources to drive positive change. When the loan is repaid the money will be directed to other important projects and the interest will be used for future granting. It’s really a win-win for Hamilton.”


Excerpt from 2016 Annual Report

Terry and Brenda Yates: Paving a path for young Hamiltonians


The beads represent objects that relate to a student’s potential through education. Each abacus bead was sculpted on a computer and then 3D printed. Steve Mazza, Artist

Terry and Brenda Yates see the community foundation’s current emphasis on education as a “natural evolutionary step” from its focus on eliminating poverty and they’ve made a significant commitment to help launch ABACUS, HCF’s community-wide initiative.

“As a former teacher,” says Brenda, “I believe that education is one of the best ways to bring people out of poverty. If you can help keep children on an educational path, they will find their way – despite difficult challenges in their backgrounds.”

Terry points to the mentoring component of the ABACUS program as one of the critical factors. “If children see someone older succeeding because of education – an older brother or an uncle or someone else they know – it makes a huge difference. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

The Yates have been actively involved with Hamilton Community Foundation since the 1990s and they appreciate its role in the community. “It’s an incubator,” says Brenda, describing the Foundation’s process of researching issues, bringing stakeholders together, and crafting shared solutions that maximize every partner’s unique contribution. They were early champions of the ABACUS idea and look forward to seeing it adopted in different ways across the community. Their new fund at HCF – the Terry and Brenda Yates Fund – is targeted at ensuring that “all children and youth have access to educational opportunities.”

“HCF is playing a unique leadership role,” says Terry, about why HCF is the home of their new fund. “The quality and commitment of the personnel at the community foundation is respected in the city. It’s recognized as an organization that believes in the future.”

Both Brenda and Terry love Hamilton and marvel at how readily Hamiltonians participate in philanthropy – with time or resources, each according to what he or she can do. While they are two outstanding examples, whose impact is incalculable, Terry just says “if you have a chance to make a difference, you should take it.”


Excerpt from 2016 Annual Report


Pro bono legal program bridges the justice gap for families with sick kids


This work depicts words overlaid with distinct shapes — the right represents the hospital staff, lawyers and funding, while the left is the family. Of interest is the independence of both shapes — never quite taking over or overlapping, but instead respecting the space and the support needed. Stephanie Seagram, Artist

When your child is in the hospital, the last thing you want to hear is you’ve lost your job because you’ve spent too much time away from work.

Thanks to the medical-legal partnership started by Pro Bono Ontario (PBO) at McMaster Children’s Hospital, low-income families can get much-needed legal support when faced with such difficult circumstances. “These are families who are already doing so much,” says lawyer, Hilary Mack. “This service can take a little stress off their plate.”

Hilary’s title is “triage lawyer”—a nod to the hospital setting and a direct reference to her role as a resource for quick assessment and referral. “Like a doctor would look at a patient, I look at their legal issue and recommend how best to address it.”

Consultations often happen at the child’s bedside but an important part of the program is training clinicians to recognize the signs of legal concerns so they can refer families. The most common concerns Hilary sees relate to family law, immigration, government benefits, employment, education and housing. She refers more complex cases to the program’s partners Ross & McBride and Gowlings, who take the cases pro bono, and the Hamilton Community Legal Clinic.

PBO has established medical-legal partnerships in five children’s hospitals since 2009. The Hamilton program is a pilot supported by the Ruth Hindmarsh Atkinson Award. A grant from HCF’s Edith H. Turner Foundation Fund is expanding Hilary’s time onsite, which is critical to keeping the program top of mind for the clinicians who refer families to the services.

PBO executive director Lynn Burns says the program not only helps overwhelmed families focus on caring for their children, but the experience at Toronto SickKids shows other long-lasting benefits.

“Families may have multiple legal problems that have been unresolved for years,” she says. “In our SickKids evaluation, none of the families had sought legal assistance prior to the social worker suggesting they contact our program—and 89 percent said we improved their financial situation. It’s a good poverty reduction strategy.”


Excerpt from 2016 Annual Report

Women influence the philanthropic cityscape


The main points of inspiration derived from this painting are the nurturing quality of women in philanthropy, the cultural diversity of Hamilton and the red symbol of the Cinquefoil flower which binds them all together. Lester Coloma, Artist

“When women give today, one thing they want to know about is the impact they are having,” says Renate Davidson.

Renate is a long-term, respected volunteer with HCF and many other organizations across Hamilton. As a founding donor to HCF’s Women 4 Change (W4C) initiative, she is struck by how women’s philanthropy “has evolved to something very different from just writing a cheque,” she says.

“A collaborative giving circle like W4C, for example, is an exciting new way to care for our community. It provides a unique opportunity to learn, to give, to work with other women and to see measurable results.”

New research confirms women’s growing influence through individual and family philanthropy, and provides detail on how they prefer to give. Women now want to contribute money as well as time, to connect with others as they give, and to have an ongoing relationship with the causes they support. They value learning about community needs and responses, and they want to see measurable results.

Meeting these expectations drives both Women4Change and HCF’s engagement with individual donors. Since its 2012 launch, W4C has grown to more than 60 women collaborating to improve the lives of Hamilton’s women and girls. At the same time, they are enhancing their own capacity as philanthropists through expert presentations, site visits, and conversations with grant recipients.

W4C builds on HCF’s long history of generous and visionary female donors, notes Sheree Meredith, VP Philanthropic Services.  “Both our first gift and our first bequest came from women,” she says. “The Chaney-Ensign sisters who made post-secondary education possible for hundreds of Hamiltonians are another of dozens of powerful examples of women whose philanthropy continues to have a transformative impact on our city.“

“I would encourage anyone to have a conversation with the foundation about how they can participate in giving to our community in ways that are most meaningful to them,” says Renate.  “This has been a lifelong learning for me, and has sensitized me to our city’s challenges and opportunities. Working through HCF has been incredibly satisfying.”

Click here to make a donation to Women 4 Change.

With every Hamilton Youth Poets performance, comes opportunity


‘We conquered yesterday’ — from a Hamilton Youth Poets piece — is such an optimistic sentiment, strengthened by the suggestion of struggle. Looking forward and back at once. I aimed to complement this approach with a dynamic painted lettering style. Jamie Lawson, Artist Read the poem that inspired the artwork

The art of spoken word is an ancient tradition that continues today through Hamilton Youth Poets. Created in 2012, “HYP” provides a platform for new young voices to muse on their city through poetry, journalism and hip-hop.

“HYP gives Hamilton’s youth have an opportunity to develop their creative skills and have their voices heard,” says artistic director Nea Reid. “It’s a ‘brave’ and positive space to express ideas, stories, experiences or simply a new concept.”

HYP supports youth who want to engage in the literary arts, develop their voice, and bring it all together at poetry slams ­– competitions at which poets read or recite original work, and which feature a broad range of voices, styles, cultural traditions, and approaches to writing and performance. “Teams come together and talk about their lives, where they’re from, their social situations and the world around them.” says Nea. “They connect with people that they never would have met. And that creates bridges, community and social activism.”

Nea lauds the support HYP has received from the community, especially from Hamilton Community Foundation. “Their support has allowed us to pursue high-calibre year-round programming, to grow and to embrace more young Hamilton poets.” It has also helped HYP’s small but passionate team of volunteers conduct school workshops across Hamilton. They reach out to students to share what happens when you become part of a collective of writers, including developing your literary skills, public speaking abilities, and the leadership qualities needed to take you further in life.

Kenneth Salazar-Cordova says coming out to slams was his best decision ever. “I made it through my first performance nervously,” says Ken, who made it to the HYP team and competed nationally. “I’ve developed certain skills that probably would have taken me a lot longer without HYP. And it has built my self-esteem and self-confidence.”

“It’s such an amazing cultural scene in Hamilton,” says HYP member Lex Leosis, “It’s so family- and community-oriented, and so proud of its collective roots. It’s very inclusive. At HYP, we mentor each other, learn from each other, and age just doesn’t matter.  Whether poets, songwriters or MCs, mastering their craft is what we’re all trying to do, and HYP provides us with the opportunity to do it.”

United Nations Culture of Peace Hamilton Fund


Culture of Peace Hamilton is a working group of the United Nations in Canada (Hamilton Branch). It is one of a worldwide cluster of groups and individuals that consider peace-building and non-violence to be important local and international steps to social transformation. Dedicating the Peace Pole at City Hall

For the past sixteen years Culture of Peace Hamilton has focused its efforts on six pathways of action, originally drafted by Nobel Peace Laureates, researched by UNESCO, and proclaimed by the United Nations under Manifesto 2000. They are an invitation to citizens – actions everyone can take to instill a culture of peace in their daily lives.

  • Respect all life
  • Reject violence
  • Share with others
  • Listen to understand
  • Preserve the planet
  • Rediscover solidarity

Globally, seventy-five million people have pledged to follow these pathways to help diverse communities function better through greater cooperation and conflict resolution.



Culture of Peace Hamilton continues to follow the pathways by reinforcing environmental issues, spiritual values and by working with like-minded organizations. The group meets regularly and hosts peace luncheons twice a year.  Peace poles and a thousand narcissi bulbs have been donated to the Peace Garden at Hamilton City Hall.   These installations and the garden help reinforce ideas of peace in tangible ways.

Peace Garden in Bloom

Your support of the United Nations Culture of Peace Hamilton Fund will provide ongoing support for these important peace initiatives.

To donate online, click here:


Rotary Forever Fund

Rotary Forever

The Rotary Club of Hamilton carries out a literacy program at north-end schools, where club members provide reading assistance to students throughout the school year.

The Rotary Club of Hamilton carries out a literacy program at north-end schools, where club members provide reading assistance to students throughout the school year.

Hamilton’s first and largest Rotary Club, with almost a century of putting the Rotary motto of “Service above Self” in practice, has created a way for the club’s good work to be supported in perpetuity.

Of the 12 local clubs, the Downtown Rotary Club has become the first to launch an endowment fund with Hamilton Community Foundation. There are two options for making a gift to the Rotary Forever Fund: as an immediate donation from a living donor, or as a bequest identified in a person’s will. All gifts are pooled and invested. The capital is left untouched and only the investment income is disbursed to support Rotary projects and initiatives, as decided by the club’s Board of Directors.

“With the creation of this fund at HCF, we’re giving people a unique opportunity to leave a legacy that supports the work of Rotary,” says Robert Beres, Club President for 2006­-2007.  “In our club alone we have members with decades of service to Rotary; we can now offer them a way to benefit the club’s projects forever.” In addition, the fund is “open”, meaning that Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike can contribute.

The Downtown Rotary Club still undertakes annual fundraising campaigns and events such as its Hallowe’en Haunted House, or Spring Uncorked, a food and wine tasting event. Monies raised from those and other initiatives help to fund literacy programs and other supports aimed at underprivileged youth.

“Our club has given out an average of $72,000 annually in charitable donations over the past five years, and our members provide hands-on service too, such as helping children at north-end schools learn to read and do math,” explains past president Keith McIntyre. “The endowment fund at HCF is a different vehicle for giving – it allows us to take the long view and build something permanent.”

Excerpt from 2006-2007 Annual Report


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The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children

Lawyer's Legacy

Hamilton’s lawyers have come together as a community to launch a permanent endowment fund to benefit local children. Long known for their support of a myriad of causes with their resources and time, Hamilton’s lawyers have chosen to work collectively to build a fund that will have an impact in perpetuity.

“We want this fund to be here to help Hamilton’s children forever,” says Justice Ray Harris, who was the driving force behind efforts to create the fund. “An endowed fund at Hamilton Community Foundation is the perfect way to ensure that.”

The Lawyers’ Legacy for Children the Ray Harris Fund is intended 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 that has characterized the contributions of Hamilton’s lawyers.

The Hamilton Lawyers’ Club agreed to collaborate with HCF to establish the fund and developed the process by which regular grants will be recommended in the future.

The fund’s founding contribution came from the proceeds of the 2006 stage production, ‘Inherit the Wind’, which Justice Harris co-directed with former Theatre Aquarius artistic director Max Reimer. Local lawyers and judges played all the roles to the delight of Hamilton audiences.

This unique theatre genre – the Lawyers’ Show – originated in Hamilton in 1983 when the Lawyers’ Club produced ‘12 Angry Men’ (also directed by Justice Harris). It has since been widely emulated in support of many worthy causes in communities across Canada and the U.S.

Hamilton’s lawyers and judges have made substantial contributions to augment the fund and are planning another Lawyers’ Show and other fundraising initiatives to build the endowment.

“Thanks to the generosity of Hamilton’s lawyers, this fund will endure for centuries,” says Justice Harris. “It will have a lasting impact that reflects our legal community’s commitment to the community at large and will always be there to help the children.”

Excerpt from 2008-2009 Annual Report

A legacy that continues

Since 2008, 20 grants totaling $136,901 have been awarded from the Lawyers Legacy for Children the Ray Harris Fund supporting important initiatives throughout the community, including:

  • Shalem Mental Health Network
  • Munar Learning Centre
  • Neighbour to Neighbour Centre (Hamilton)
  • Essential Aid and Family Services of Ontario Inc.
  • Wesley Urban Ministries
  • Eva Rothwell Centre
  • Living Rock Ministries
  • The John Howard Society
  • Hamilton Academy of Performance Arts
  • Autism Society of Ontario, Hamilton Chapter
  • Nelson Youth Centres
  • YMCA of Hamilton/ Burlington/ Brantford
  • Hugs N Snugs Support Services

The fund continues to grow, with the fund capital reaching over $500,000 – truly a legacy that will have an impact forever.


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Riverdale Salad Bowl

The Riverdale Salad Bowl is a community solution to provide access to fresh produce and improve food security. We were proud to support the community garden in this great east Hamilton neighbourhood.

Sport hijab – a win for girls

A grant from HCF is helping to put more girls on the playing field by providing sport hijabs to 20 local schools.  For Muslim girls, taking part in athletics can be challenging when wearing a traditional hijab due to the fear that it could fall off, or that the fastening pin could injure a player.  It’s a particular risk in sports like basketball and soccer.  Sport hijabs eliminate these risks with a design that accommodates physical activity. The program, also supported by the Hamilton Muslim Association, will make the hijabs available on loan, just like other sports equipment, helping the girls to enjoy and reap the benefits of more athletic participation both in gym class and on school teams.


Excerpt from Legacy newsletter, Fall 2015