Fern x Flow Donation to Indigenous-Led Environmental Organizations

In continuing with our quarterly donations, it's time again to announce the most recent one. This time around, we wanted to try something different and poll our followers to get their feedback about how we should make the next donation. We want our customers, especially, to have input in how or where the donation is made. They are, after all, the ones who enable us to make these generous donations. Moving forward, we're going to create more opportunities for our customers to have input in these decisions.

This was again our biggest amount to date, totaling $878 from October through December 2021. We thought even if we split this amount and made two donations (instead of our standard one) it will still surpass the last donation we made. So, we took to Instagram and polled our followers and customers on whether we should stick to one donation or split and make two to different organizations. The poll favored making two donations, so that's what we did this time around. Next time, we'll revert back to our standard one donation.

Fern x Flow soy candle company October market display in Salem, MA.(Fern x Flow table display from an event during the donation period)

With that all in mind, we began looking into various environmental groups and organizations and came across a tweet about a not-so-surprising statistic on charitable giving in Canada, and how much of that money was directed to native or Indigenous-led communities (hint: it's a very small percentage). This piqued our interest, and we read more about the issue, which then led us to wonder about the United States.

To get the most accurate information, we reached out to Janine (kwe/she/her), the person who tweeted the stats, and asked if she could direct us to any info regarding the US. Janine, whose traditional name is Oshkii Ahnung Kwe, is, in fact, part of the Indigenous community. She is Anishinaabe and a member of the Chippewas of Nawash First Nation (Neyaashiinigmiing, ON) who lives and works in Toronto. A little more about Janine in her own words, 

"[I am] the President of Laidlaw Foundation and Manager, Annual Giving & Donor at Anishnawbe Health Toronto. [I am] personally and professionally committed to raising awareness about decolonizing wealth and philanthropic reform to support Indigenous-led charities."

(Janine's original tweet that piqued our interest to learn more)

Considering we were inquiring about philanthropic issues facing the native and Indigenous community, it was important for us to consult someone who is part of that community. And, the fact that she works in philanthropy further shows the first-hand experience she has with these issues.

We heard back from Janine and she was able to provide us some resources and statistics about the US. She sent us a stat from Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP),

"In 2020, total charitable giving in the United States was about $471 billion. Only 0.4% of funding by large U.S. foundations is directed to Native communities."

If you do the math, which we did, it equates to just under $2 billion. Now, that may seem like a big number - which, in and of itself, it is, but not in the grand scheme of things. And certainly not considering all the issues these monies help fund among the many native and Indigenous groups across the US. With that, we knew we wanted to donate to Indigenous-led environmental groups knowing they often have proven methods for water, land, and natural-resource conservation.

When Janine originally shared the statistics with us, she also shared a list of Indigenous-led environmental groups we could look into. With these resources, we had a starting point to find additional causes that cared about the environment; which is an understatement, considering that for Indigenous people it's much more than just caring about the environment. NAP explains it best,

"For Indigenous communities, the conservation of the environment is deeply intertwined with cultural preservation, land and water rights, tribal sovereignty, and the stewardship of ancestral homelands."

While all the groups were worthy of being a recipient for the donation, we had to select two. However, those that we didn't select will likely be kept in mind for future donations. With that being said, the two organizations we chose are Indigenous Climate Action (ICA) and Indigenous Environmental Network (IEN).

Indigenous Climate Action

Indigenous Climate Action was started in 2015 by Indigenous Alberta women who sought to have discussions on climate change and Indigenous rights with other Indigenous people. They are led by "a diverse group of Indigenous knowledge keepers, water protectors and land defenders from communities and regions across the country."

They support their work by,

"reinforcing [their] place as leaders in climate change discourse and driving solutions for today and tomorrow."

Their work is divided into four main concepts: gatherings, resources and tools, amplifying voices, and supporting Indigenous sovereignty. ICA believes that Indigenous Peoples’ rights and knowledge systems are critical to developing solutions to the climate crisis and achieving climate justice - and we do, too.

Fern x Flow Indigenous Climate Action donation

(donation made through the Polaris Institute, and distributed to the ICA. Amount above is in Canadian dollars, which equals $439 USD)

Please learn more about ICA and their mission by visiting their website.

Indigenous Environmental Network was the second organization we made a $439 donation to. This organization was started in 1990 by grassroots Indigenous peoples and individuals to address environmental and economic justice issues. More specifically, it was born out of necessity as, at the time, many tribal and native lands were targeted as dump sites for toxic and hazardous waste.

Indigenous Environmental Network

Their work includes,

"building the capacity of Indigenous communities and tribal governments to develop mechanisms to protect our sacred sites, land, water, air, natural resources, health of both our people and all living things, and to build economically sustainable communities."

Following their initial meeting in 1990, the IEN has continued community tribal gatherings and works to restore and advance the health and balance of their homelands and the greater environment. You can learn more about the Indigenous Environmental Network on their website or by following them on social media.

Fern x Flow Indigenous Environmental Network donation

To Learn more about these and other Indigenous-led environmental groups, you can visit the Native Americans in Philanthropy website.

As always, thanks to our customers for making these donations happen. We'd also like to give a special thank you to Janine Manning for taking the time to respond, provide resources, and educate us about the severe under-funding of Indigenous-led organizations and communities. We've learned so much on this particular issue, and we're thankful to share this with all of you and educate you as well.

To conclude, as we learned from Janine, miigwetch (thank you)!

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