The story behind Hamilton’s new urban Indigenous strategy

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There are 16,000 Indigenous people in Hamilton, many of them marginalized by poverty and racism. A new city program aims to help fix that

By Rhiannon Russell

During the summers of Shylo Elmayan’s childhood, her family drove around Ontario attending powwows. Her mother sold crafts and moccasins while Elmayan and her sister took part in the dancing. They’re members of the Long Lake #58 First Nation, an Anishinaabe community roughly 120 kilometres north of Lake Superior.

Elmayan was born and raised in Hamilton; she recalls her mother taking her to a children’s program at the city’s Regional Indian Centre, where she made crafts and played games. Later, as a teenager, she took one of her first summer jobs there. Since then, Elmayan has earned degrees in First Nations studies and public policy. Now she’s the senior project manager of Hamilton’s new urban Indigenous strategy.

“One of the goals is to build that stronger relationship with the Indigenous community in Hamilton,” she says. “This is one step towards that.”

Elmayan will meet with organizations and advocates to find out what they want from the initiative. It will be a collaborative effort, she says: “This is our time to listen and work with the community … I’m really looking forward to sitting down and hearing about what the priorities for the strategy should be.”

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Article and image source: TVO

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