Anishnawbe Health Foundation

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Lisa Del Col

Donor Profile
Reconnecting to Ancestry through Family and Charity

 

Lisa Del Col was born in Saskatchewan and raised in Timmins, Ontario where she grew up not knowing her Algonquin ancestry.  Lisa shares, “My grandmother ‘became Italian’ when she married my grandfather, and never spoke of her roots to us. I only learned of my heritage when I was an early teen.  I came to know that my grandmother’s family is from the Timiskaming First Nation in Quebec.”

 

At the time, Lisa was upset that this information was kept from her family. However, as she got older and more aware of the world, she realized that her grandmother did this as a result of racism and colonialism.  “I realized that she didn’t want her family to experience any of the issues she and her family faced.”  Lisa continues, “I learned through research and accessing archival records that my great grandmother was in an Indian hospital —  St. Mary’s on the Lake Sanatorium, for tuberculosis in the early ‘50s. While the record didn’t reveal anything outwardly nefarious, it seemed they kept her there for a much longer time than needed. There were letters from her family urgently requesting her return home. I would imagine my grandmother was not particularly keen to discuss this and other matters, so she just didn’t.”

 

Lisa is thankful to her Aunt, who has been working with her and her siblings on getting reconnected with her family history.  Lisa explains, “My aunt has shared teachings and stories with us and has taken us to Timiskaming to spend time with Elders and firekeepers to learn from them.”

 

Lisa has also found other ways to feel more deeply connected to the Indigenous community; through her work and through multiple charities. She spent four years as the Manager of Indigenous Initiatives at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law.  She also worked for two years with a charity leading its Indigenous Youth Outreach Program, which is a justice education and mentorship program for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit youth across Canada. Currently, she sits on the Community Council with Aboriginal Legal Services, a court diversion program where community members come together and work with the individual who is going through the system to find a good path forward.

 

Lisa is also a member of Anishnawbe Health Foundation’s Sweetgrass Monthly Giving Circle.  Lisa recalls, “I first became aware of Anishnawbe Health Toronto through my work at the University of Toronto and I felt that Anishnawbe Health was doing such amazing work for the community.  They are providing health and healing in a space that is truly welcoming and supportive and reflective of Indigenous values and culture. AHT mattered to me because the health and healing of the community at the hands of the community is paramount, especially within the colonial context. Thinking back to my great grandmother’s stay in the sanatorium, and how there was (and still is) racism in healthcare.  It’s important to me to support community-based systems.”

 

When asked what she might say to someone who may be interested in becoming a member of the Sweetgrass Monthly Giving Circle or making a donation, Lisa says, “I would encourage them to look into what Anishnawbe Health Toronto does, and to see the incredible impact it has on the Indigenous community in Toronto (and beyond). There are so many services and supports available to community members through this organization, whether it be physical health, mental health, or connections to culture. If you’re looking to support the Indigenous community, donating to Anishnawbe Health Toronto is a way to guarantee you’re supporting an organization that not only assists the community but is also based in the community. “

 

To join Lisa as a member of the r Sweetgrass Monthly Giving Circle, visit www.supportanishnawbe.ca/donate/sweetgrass-monthly-giving-circle/