Regiment ensures its legacy

Hamilton’s “Rileys” pre-date Confederation. Their HCF endowment will support community impact forever

The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry’s long and rich history in this community now has another tie: a permanent endowment fund at Hamilton Community Foundation.

Known as the “Rileys,” RHLI is a professional, combat-capable army reserve regiment. It is the oldest combat infantry regiment in the Hamilton-Burlington area.

“The regiment’s history is Hamilton’s history,” says Honorary Colonel Peter Young, noting that the RHLI began in Hamilton in 1862 — before Confederation. Through every conflict since then, and many humanitarian crises, Hamilton families have sent soldiers overseas and across Canada with the RHLI.

The RHLI Endowment Fund will, in perpetuity, “look after the regimental family,” says Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Don Cranston.  “And that family includes not only soldiers and their families, but also our two cadet corps, ceremonial guard, our band, our museum, our veterans association and our historical artifacts.”

As an agency fund, the RHLI endowment will support its wide-ranging programs such as bursaries for returning soldiers to pursue post-secondary education, loans and help with job transitions, a variety of family support services, maintaining the regiment’s archives, and other crucial services. Over time, the RHLI hopes to build the fund with legacy gifts and other contributions from families who share a history with the regiment.

The RHLI chose Hamilton Community Foundation to house its fund because of the “depth and breadth of the Foundation,” says Don. “Its great governance, its professionalism and track record, its brand recognition in Hamilton — all this is a huge assistance to the RHLI.

Local action for peace

Ray Cunnington wants to protect the principles of peace through his fund at HCF

Ray Cunnington’s passion is peace. And he believes that individuals, not just nations, create the conditions for peace both locally and around the world. He’s a perfect example of putting that idea into practice.

Ray has a long history of peace initiatives. At age 96 he recently published a book on peace called Towards Less Adversarial Cultures. The previous year he was awarded the Hamilton-Burlington-Brantford YMCA Peace Medal. Three years ago, he established a fund at Hamilton Community Foundation to provide support for Culture of Peace Hamilton, a United Nations-backed group which works with others in the community to promote non-violence locally. The group holds monthly meetings, sponsors a public peace lunch and discussion twice a year, and has made significant donations to the city’s Peace Garden. It continues to uphold the UN doctrine that peace involves individual commitment.

In 2000 the UN proposed six practical suggestions for people who wanted to promote peace — clear, straight-forward acts like rejecting violence and preserving the planet. More than 75 million people around the world pledged to follow them in their daily lives.

Six principles of peace in everyday life:

  • Respect all life
  • Reject violence
  • Share with others
  • Listen to understand
  • Preserve the planet
  • Rediscover solidarity
    The United Nations’ Culture of Peace Manifesto 2000

But times change.  The world has gradually shifted away from personal responsibility back to governments and nations. Concerned that these very good suggestions might get lost or forgotten, Ray looked for a way they could be preserved and protected.

He found a home for Culture of Peace at HCF. He saw Terry Cooke on television, and “Terry made it seem so simple to set up a fund for a good purpose” Ray says. “The Foundation is a respected organization of thinking people who want to do something good for the world.” Ray is certainly one of them.


Excerpt from 2017 Annual Report

A place to call home

New complex coming to Melvin Avenue

A striking new project near the intersection of Parkdale and Barton promises to transform both a local landmark and the lives of the people who will live there.

The site is currently occupied by George & Mary’s Tavern,  a long-standing fixture on Melvin Avenue in east Hamilton, but one that has fallen into disrepair. Supported by a mortgage loan from Hamilton Community Foundation’s impact investing fund, the property will be completely revitalized over the next year by Indwell, a creator of affordable housing communities that “support people seeking health, wellness and belonging.”

“Hearing the stories of vulnerable people who’ve experienced trauma due to their housing situations is overwhelming,” says Indwell executive director Jeff Neven. “We’re transforming a site that has always been an anchor for this community from a place of dereliction into one that people will want to call ‘home.’”

The rejuvenated property will provide a minimum of 56 affordable, accessible, energy-efficient apartments, 3,000 square feet of retail space and a large-scale teaching kitchen. Most of all, it will offer immense potential to improve the lives of its future residents. Results from Indwell’s other projects show a number of improvements in tenants’ situations, including an increase in housing stability by an average of 3.5 years, fewer required emergency services, improved mental and physical health, rebuilt family connections and an increase in community participation.

“This project is about so much more than bricks and mortar,” says Terry Cooke, HCF President and CEO. “We’re thrilled to be able to use our assets in new ways to support this kind of positive change.”


Excerpt from Spring 2017 Legacy Newsletter

Rain management 101

Into every life a little rain must fall—and managing it where it goes helps both homeowners and the environment.

With support from HCF’s Dougher Fund, a home visit program from Green Venture offered Dundas residents a personalized 90-minute assessment of their property and basement by a certified RAIN Home Guide.

Homeowners learned three simple principles—slow it down, soak it up and keep it clean—and specific techniques to manage stormwater and reduce water consumption, including rain harvesting and rain gardens. A customized report highlighted each homeowner’s five most pressing areas to address. A follow-up survey with participants showed 100 per cent of participants had taken or were preparing to take action on the recommendations.

Managing storm water means more flood-resistant communities, fewer wet basements and mould problems, more green spaces and cleaner local waterways. The Dundas program will help reduce the amount of water entering Spring, Sulphur and Spencer Creeks from the storm water system and overland drains during the extreme weather events that are becoming more common with climate change.

Excerpt from Spring 2017 Legacy newsletter

Caring dads

Caring Dads is a program offered in Canada, the U.S. and Europe that has shown significant success in working with fathers at-risk of using abusive behaviour with their families. Now, the program will be offered in Hamilton for the first time, filling an urgent local need identified by agencies addressing family violence.

Thanks to an HCF grant, Hamilton fathers will no longer have to be referred to Caring Dads programs in other cities. Offered by Catholic Family Services, Caring Dads emphasizes helping fathers to build strong, supportive relationships with their children. It works to increase a father’s ability to respond appropriately to kids’ misbehaviour, co-parent with their children’s mothers and put their kids’ needs first.

Excerpt from Spring 2017 Legacy Newsletter

A family affair

The Hamilton Philharmonic continued its tradition of bringing classical music to new ears with a complementary invitation for families living in City Housing Hamilton to attend its Family Concert Experience.

Supported by an HCF Creative Arts Fund grant, the program aims to introduce families to their local professional symphony, create a sense of belonging in their community’s arts organizations and build a special family experience. It included pre-concert activities such as create-your-own-instrument crafts and an instrument “petting zoo”.

As an early “welcome to your symphony,” HPO representatives attended tenant meetings to promote the concerts. Of City Housing Hamilton’s 13,000 residents, almost half are children.

Excerpt from Spring Legacy 2017 newsletter

Infant food bank fills a gap

Essential Aid, a Hamilton organization focused on nutrition for children under four, is filling a critical gap in the food bank system by stocking a wide range of infant formulas.

The nutrition needs of infants are unique and many formula-fed infants can’t tolerate a change.  Traditional food banks are unable to provide a selection of formula as it is expensive and product donations are difficult to acquire.   By offering multiple formulas, Essential Aid assists families in immediate need – no proof of income is required as the organization believes that an emergency can happen to anyone. The infant food bank is seeing an ever-increasing demand; HCF’s grant will help to meet the needs of an average 200 children monthly.

Essential Aid also offers a breastfeeding support program which provides education, one-on-one support from a volunteer nurse and supplies.  Last year, the organization provided emergency formula, diapers and breastfeeding equipment to 1,765 children, many of whose families were referred by other local food banks.


Exceprt from 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter

Enriching activities

ABACUS is HCF’s initiative to improve graduation and post-secondary access rates by focusing on students in the middle-school years.  To support the critical role of teachers in this goal, Hamilton Community Foundation launched a new small grants program – up to $500 – for Grade 6, 7 and 8 teachers to provide enrichment activities that support overall ABACUS objectives.

Including exciting ventures like a hands-on opportunity to design, test and build pneumatic and hydraulic systems, to experiencing pre-1850 Canadian history at Battlefield Park, to publishing a student-produced community newspaper, the first round drew almost 70 applications from teachers across the city, reflecting a wide range of projects that share an academic focus and a goal to improve student achievement.

Teachers take note:  the next application deadline for ABACUS Teacher Grants is March 1, 2017.  Check it out at


Exceprt from 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter

Help to start a new life

A new program at the Ellen Osler Home in Dundas is helping women ease back into the community, before, during and after their release from serving a federal sentence.

Supported by an HCF grant, the program provides “in-reach” staff who accompany and assist the women during stressful times such as parole board hearings, and the transition to Ellen Osler which can happen on short notice.  Once they arrive at the home, it supports a smoother transition in practical ways, such as helping to pay for transportation to work commitments or reconnecting with family.  It also enables the women to participate in community activities – recreational classes for example – that help them build stronger relationships and support beyond their involvement with the correctional system.


Excerpt from the 2016 Fall Legacy newsletter

Double Play

chhip2A recent Hamilton Community Foundation grant to a new partnership project called the City of Hamilton Home Improvement Project (CHHIP) is like making two grants in one.

The program brings together the City’s Neighbourhood Action Strategy, CityHousing Hamilton, Threshold School of Building and the Foundation, and works toward a dual purpose:  providing job skills to unemployed young people aged 18 to 29, while improving social housing space.

The participants are drawn primarily from the City of Hamilton’s priority neighbourhoods.  They receive two weeks of training in basic construction skills, and then put knowledge into practice helping to renovate some of CityHousing’s units over the course of six months.  The improvements allow the units, vacant due to disrepair, to eventually be used again as social housing.

One of CHHIP’s goals is to break down barriers to quality employment training opportunities. Along with providing the practical short-term supports that are often needed to work in construction– things like boots, a hard hat and a bus pass to get to the site – CHHIP also helps participants look to the longer term.  It offers the opportunity to obtain high school credits and connects participants with resume preparation, job search and employment counselling services once the program is completed.

There’s also an intrinsic value to the work, as participants have reported increased self-worth and self-confidence to enter the job market. As participant Robin Pringle recently told the CBC, “you get to see your hard work at the end of the day and you can say ‘look at what I did’.  And that’s a good feeling.”


Excerpt from Legacy Fall newsletter