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A conversation with Gaylene Weidlich

Executive Director of Wood Buffalo Community Foundation, the Aðapaskāw Partner on this edition

YMM: Tell us about the Wood Buffalo Community Foundation.

WBCF: We connect people, families and organizations with causes that inspire them within Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo. We are passionate about collaborating with others in the community to affect positive, long-term social investment. Much of what we do provides regular community support and also immediate granting for emerging issues such as the funding response for Covid recovery.

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YMM: The Indigenous Wood Buffalo edition of Your McMurray Magazine is helping to shine a spotlight on Indigenous culture and how it is being woven throughout every aspect of life in our communities. Why was it important to the Wood Buffalo Community Foundation to come on board as our Aðapaskāw Partner?

WBCF: Indigenous culture has been here on this land since time immemorial. WBCF recognizes this and we believe that it is our duty to provide space for the sharing and promotion of Indigenous culture – and all cultures – in order to build a more just and equitable region.

 

YMM: The WBCF’s Community Grant Program helps fund charitable organizations in a number of sectors in Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo. Can you share with us some of the ways you have helped support Indigenous initiatives or how you would like to in the future?

WBCF: Since 2017, we have granted nearly $1.4 million for programs and initiatives that support the well-being of all people within Fort McMurray Wood Buffalo. We have funded initiatives such as “Developing an Indigenous Guardian Program” for the Willow Lake Métis Nation, and “Building Micro-Community Gathering Spaces” for the Fort McMurray 468 Nation.

It takes more than funding a few programs to be part of ReconciliACTION. WBCF acknowledges the historical truths and we are committed to continuing our learning journey. We are putting in the work and providing space to be a strong ally.

We are committed to learning and working with Indigenous partners to decolonize processes and systems; removing barriers for granting, and building an equitable and inclusive society.

 

YMM: This edition of the magazine launches on June 21, National Indigenous Peoples Day. Can you share with us how you will be observing this important day?

WBCF:  We will be attending local events to share in and celebrate the local culture and heritage. While one day is certainly important, it is vital that we continue on this journey every day and encourage and support others to do the same.

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