Posted on Feb 28, 2018

Our guest speaker today was Josée Lusignan, founder of I Love First Peoples, a charity that helps Indigenous children and youth through education and projects that foster reconciliation.


Josée is also the director of the Ideal Way Association, a charity that helps single-parent families to come out of poverty. Josée brings over 20 years of experience in communications and event management to her work in assisting charities to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged. 
Josée made a point of starting her presentation by stating that their group has grown a lot since she last spoke to us.  The shoe box program has gone national.  Thirty chapters have opened.  Twelve schools are now involved in Ottawa.  This year they will be visiting 20 communities from Nunavut to B.C.
We were pleased to view a short indigenous movie called “Indian Horse”. 
Through I Love First Peoples, we are presently involved with the Rapid Lake Reserve elementary school.  Rapid Lake, Quebec is located about three hours north of Ottawa.  There are between 400 and 600 persons there at any one time.  There is 98% unemployment on this reserve.  Drugs, alcohol and band management are problems on this reserve which results in the children suffering.   Funding/financial assistance has been taken away from the band leaders and handled by a third party management company. 
The local school (kindergarten to grade 6) has approximately 80 students and only recently has any structure been in place.   Local students who can continue from grade 7 to completion are sent to Maniwaki.   Most of these students are boarded in not the best of conditions.   Many of the students do not continue with the higher grades.
For those who do not continue with the traditional upper classes, there is a teen class which apart from having some academic schooling also has two programs in place.
Program 1 – Fred Saskamoose Awards & Scholarship – please review the attached handout. 
Program 2 – Introduction to micro business.
This group initiated their production of medallions for sale that can be attached to key rings or be pendants.  There is a moose antler on one side of the medallions.