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Kw’umut Lelum starts Indigenous-led, -owned charitable foundation

VIU director of Indigenous education and engagement named Kw’umut Lelum Foundation exec director
New Kw’umut Lelum Foundation executive director Sharon Hobenshield. (Submitted photo)

Kw’umut Lelum Child and Family Services has launched a First Nation-owned and -led charitable organization, which will seek to enrich the lives of area Aboriginal people.

In a press release, the group announced the formation of Kw’umut Lelum Foundation, whose goal is to “collaborate with private and public philanthropists to invest in Indigenous youth and communities, ensuring equity of access to support programs, positive outcomes in education, and increased community well-being.”

Sharon Hobenshield was named executive director of the foundation, said the press release. Hobenshield has worked with Coast Salish communities on Vancouver Island for over 25 years, the press release said, including time at Vancouver Island University as director of Indigenous education and engagement. The foundation said it was pleased to have someone with her experience.

“The Kw’umut Lelum Foundation is a response to the call for Indigenous self-determination and independence from government funding,” said John Elliot, Kw’umut Lelum Foundation chairperson. “It will open new opportunities for education and well-being for our people. Sharon’s history of collaboration and partnership with our Coast Salish nations, and her dedication to Indigenous education and success made her a clear choice to guide the foundation.”

Hobenshield said she looked forward to working at the foundation which “is breaking new ground in self-determination.”

“I really believe in Indigenous community-led organization and change,” Hobenshield said in the press release. “It’s the direction First Nations are going and an opportunity for the country to show their support to create a better future for our children and our nations. I look forward to leading with the values handed down to me by my Gitxsan grandfather who always told me ‘To be good is to do good.’”

The foundation’s work will build on Kw’umut Lelum’s 25 years child and family service provision, said William Yoachim, Kw’umut Lelum executive director.

“This new foundation is another important step towards ensuring our children are provided the best possible opportunities in life, in a way that honours their Coast Salish culture,” Yoachim said in the press release.

Kw’umut Lelum welcomes inquiries from individuals and organizations who are interested in investing in the community-based work of the new foundation, the press release said.

Its member nations include Halalt, Lyackson, Malahat, Penelakut, Qualicum, Snaw-Naw-As, Snuneymuxw, Stz’uminus and Ts’uubaa-asatx, said the press release.

For more information on Kw’umut Lelum, go here.

READ ALSO: Thousands donated to Kw’umut Lelum after Nanaimo vigil

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