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Homegrown Charities...

As we saw last week, there are many ways to support people in the developing world through Christmas donations in honour of your friends and family. And the need is certainly great. But, as most of us know, there are communities in Canada that would benefit from charitable aid too…

There are 86,000 charities in Canada, and it can be a challenge to wade your way through the bumpf that arrives in the mail at this time of year. How do you decide who gets your hard-earned bucks? Charity Intelligence has come up with a four-star system to rate charities in areas such as financial transparency, so it’s a good place to start if you want to know more about the work of your chosen group.

Canadian Feed the Children is part of an international development agency working to ensure food security in vulnerable communities. Along with projects in the developing world, CFC also operates in First Nations in this country, running breakfast programs and working to ensure that no child goes hungry or underfed in one of the richest countries in the world.

Only ten percent of indigenous people complete university degrees, less than half the number for the general population. Contrary to popular belief, First Nations people do not receive full funding for education. They are entitled to it under treaties with the government, but the government set up the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) to meet its obligation. Funding for PSSSP, however, has been capped below inflation and doesn’t take into account the increasing numbers of qualified applicants. When adjusted for inflation, funding fell by $14 million between 1998 and 2002, so grants have got much smaller. Since 1985, Indspire has awarded more than $79 million in scholarships to indigenous youth in Canada. Apart from the federal government, it is the largest provider of educational funding to First Nations in the country. Its Soaring Youth Career Conferences connect indigenous kids with business and public sector leaders, giving them the networking opportunities they need for future success. The annual Indspire Awards recognize First Nations and Metis achievement in 14 areas.

In the wider community, from mentoring programs such as Big Brothers and Big Sisters to food banks like Daily Bread and The Stop to the multitude of programs for homeless and street-involved youth, there are charities across the country dedicated to making life better for all vulnerable Canadians.

Water Aid Canada provides the world’s poorest people with access to clean water, basic sanitation, and hygiene education. Unfortunately, they also find areas of Canada that need their services. The Prime Minister’s mother, Ms. Margaret Trudeau, is the organisation’s honorary president and is very involved in its work.

Habitat for Humanity Aboriginal Housing Program is building much-needed housing on First Nations. Forty-nine percent of housing on First Nations needs repair and an additional 85,000 units are needed. In partnership with MCHC (Metis community housing), Habitat has begun to construct affordable housing on First Nations land for the first time. Sponsored by TCHC and Royal Bank, Habitat built an elders lodge on Flying Dust First Nation in Saskatchewan and is organizing build programs elsewhere in the province.

Legacy of Hope Foundation [] funds educational activities and materials dedicated to honouring the suffering of the victims of Residential Schools. They operate a crisis line for survivors and provide curriculum packs and touring exhibitions to raise awareness of this shameful part of Canadian history.

Finally, most Canadian cities have an Out of the Cold program, providing warmth and shelter to the homeless when the temperatures go down. Check out your local schedule for locations that could use your help.

They say that charity begins at home, and our home could use a lot of improvement….

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