Ontario launches New Indian Residential School Community Engagement Fund

The Ontario government said it is taking action to support Indigenous communities in the province by launching the $7.1 million Indian Residential School Community Engagement Fund (IRSCEF).

The fund will enable additional communities and organizations to support residential school survivors and their families impacted by ongoing burial investigations at former residential schools. Funding can be used for mental health and addiction support, research and public education.

“Ontario has heard from Indigenous partners and leadership that more support is needed for the broader network of communities and organizations involved in or impacted by investigations at Indian Residential School sites,” said Greg Rickford, minister of Indigenous affairs. “Our government is directly responding to Indigenous feedback, and the IRSCEF will allow us to fund Indigenous-led and survivor-centred programs and services that are flexible and respond to the needs of survivors and their families.”

Applications could have been submitted through the Ontario government’s Transfer Payment Ontario website beginning Monday, July 31 until Tuesday, Sept. 5. Eligible activities to receive funding include: community engagement; mental health and addictions support; research activities; public education and awareness; staffing supports; commemoration initiatives.

Eligible applicants may receive up to $150,000 for the 2023 to 2024 fiscal year. Funding is expected to be released beginning in Fall 2023.

The IRSCEF is part of the $25.1 million announced in the 2023 budget to support burial investigations at former residential schools which includes $10.1 million to support Indigenous communities with work related to planned and ongoing burial investigations and $15 million to support Indigenous communities in responding to the mental health and addictions and trauma impacts of this difficult work.

To date, Ontario has committed $62.3 million to support residential school burial investigations.

“As we continue to advance meaningful reconciliation, the province is also working with Indigenous partners to explore opportunities that strengthen Ontarians’ collective awareness and understanding of the legacy of these institutions,” said an July press release.

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