In 1999, the Centre received a substantial bequest from Mr. Herbert Sheppard. The Board of Directors made a decision at that time to establish a Foundation to professionally raise, receive, invest and protect funds and assets to support the work and programs of primarily the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto. The Foundation will provide grants for cultural educational, artistic, social, and recreational programs that strengthen and reaffirm a healthy, empowering sense of Aboriginal identity in urban Aboriginal peoples.
The Native Centre of Toronto is starting a capital fundraising drive to create a wonderful new facility to build the dreams and accommodate the needs of the growing urban native population in the City of Toronto and the Foundation will help to reach this goal.
Mishkaowjiwan is the Ojibway name given to the Native Centre Foundation by the Elder Grandmother Mary Assinewe. The name was envisioned in a dream by Mary. She recounts a warm summer day in which she came upon a fast flowing river. In her dream she approached the bank and saw the water was of clear blue. She understood this as a good omen. Then her attention was caught by an object in the current that was moving swiftly towards her. After a moment she recognized that the object was an old-fashioned cast iron cooking vessel. “How can it be that such an object floats?” she mused. She then recognized that the strong flowing current both held and carried the big kettle forward. And she realized that this kettle would be strong enough to hold everything, all of the Native Centre’s dreams and goals.
Mary’s story is a constant reminder to us of the power of our community to carry ourselves and our dreams forward. This is contained in the single Ojibway word, ‘MISHKAOWJIWAN’. It translates as ‘Strong Flowing Current’.