Indspire is a national charitable organization, formerly known as the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation. Indspire is dedicated to investing in the education of Indigenous people in Canada. In so doing, the organization hopes to give Indigenous students the skills and opportunities to create positive futures for themselves and their communities. Indspire aims to inspire and promote excellence. Every year, Indspire presents awards to Indigenous peoples who have made significant contributions to their communities and to Indigenous peoples as a whole. Well-known recipients of the Indspire Awards include Murray Sinclair, Susan Aglukark, Maria Campbell, Daphne Odjig, Tomson Highway, Reggie Leach and hundreds more.
Indspire was established as the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation in 1985. Its goal was to inspire and support success among Indigenous people. In 1993, the organization created the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards to celebrate the outstanding achievements of Indigenous people. The awards were created in conjunction with a UN resolution, passed by the General Assembly on 21 December 1993, that would launch the first International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People (1995–2004).
The charity changed its name in 2012. Indspire is a combination of the words Indigenous and inspire. The new name reflected the organization’s goal to inspire and celebrate Indigenous people in Canada.
Vision and Programs
As a means of encouraging the pursuit of education, Indspire funds and supports various programs for Indigenous students. It also provides workshops and forums for teachers to come together and discuss ways to improve educational outcomes. In association with its donors and partners, Indspire hopes to increase graduation rates amongst Indigenous students in Canada. Since 2004, Indspire has distributed over $153 million to Indigenous students in Canada. In the 2020–2021 academic year, over $20 million was distributed to 6,245 Indigenous students in Canada. (See also Education of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.)
Indspire’s groundbreaking research program, Indspire Research Knowledge Nest, tracks post-secondary and labour market data for Indigenous students. The project’s goal is to provide policy-makers with the information necessary to create policies that will benefit the social and economic well-being of Indigenous peoples.
Held annually since 1994, the Indspire Awards honour high-achieving Indigenous people in Canada. Since the creation of the awards program, hundreds of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people have received Indspire Awards.
The nomination categories of the Indspire Awards generally include the arts, business and commerce, youth, education, health, sports, public service, law and justice, and culture, heritage and spirituality. Lifetime Achievement awards are given to those who have dedicated their lives and work to supporting and bettering the lives of Indigenous peoples.