Native after-school program receives grant from Olympic sponsor

Parents and students gathered at Eastview Junior Public School on Feb. 4 to celebrate a $25,000 donation from Royal Bank.

The money will help the Native Child and Family Services of Toronto continue their work with youth in the Scarborough-Guildwood community.

Former National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, now an advisor with RBC, said programs like these play an important role in fostering aboriginal culture.

“Scarborough has probably the largest concentration of Aboriginal people,” he said.  “We saw evidence [at the ceremony] of some of the good work. Clearly, aboriginal culture is very important to this school.”

RBC is a sponsor of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which some aboriginal groups and activists argue is being held on stolen First Nations land. Protesters interrupted the torch run several times as it made its way across Canada.

But Fontaine, who was also an Olympic torchbearer, said the Winter Olympics is an opportunity for First Nations communities to show the important role they’ve played in Canada’s history.

“It’s much more than a sporting event—it’s a world sporting event,” he said.  “It’s a celebration of indigenous cultures, and I see this as an opportunity to speak to the world about who we are here in our homeland.”