150 Profiles: Kris Archie

As we mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, The Philanthropist is profiling Canadians from across the non-profit sector and putting a face to 150 individuals who work or volunteer in Canada’s social sector.

Name: Kris Archie

Current role in the sector: Executive Director, The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada

Years working and/or volunteering in the nonprofit sector: Volunteering since I was 8 years old and working in the social sector since my mid teens… so it’s been a few decades.

What was your first job in the sector or a defining moment?
My first experiences with philanthropy happened during elementary school, carrying around an orange Unicef box while trick or treating on Halloween night. The irony of collecting money for children in other countries while my own community 26 kilometres away had a boil water advisory was lost on me until many years later. The most formative experience was canvassing for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind when I was 12 (yup, I don’t think they allow that anymore!). I had to find personal connection to the issue, be clear, thoughtful and patient when describing the cause, requesting funds, filling out receipts and expressing gratitude for people’s time. Both experiences have taught me a lot about being inquisitive, patient and gracious in this work.

Describe your desk/workspace.
Well, I am still in the midst of creating it as I’ve just started at The Circle. A few of my most important work items are my Moleskin notebook, a hand turned wooden pen and pencil set (made and gifted to me by my brother Brad), my coloured pens and my Spotify subscription. I also like to have small pieces of art in my workspace and attempt to keep plants alive. My former colleagues might call my workspace “messy” but I’d like to consider it chaotically creative, as per Vu Le over at NonprofitAF.

What are you reading or following that has expanded your understanding of the non-profit sector? 
First, I would like to acknowledge that there is a lack of diversity in those writing for major publications that inform the sector broadly, so I want to share a few other people and places I look to for feeding my spirit and for increasing shared understanding and action between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in my next response.

That said, two online spaces that increase learning and connection include:

  • NonprofitAF by Vu Le for his wit, truth and ability to help us find humour in our philanthropic efforts with more equity, diversity and justice and
  • the work of fellow PLACES alumni, hosted by The Funders Network for their place-based, smart growth and equity-focused framing on current issues in philanthropy.

What do you think our sector needs to be thinking about?
What matters to me, both personally and professionally is how we breathe life into the very values that bring many of us into the philanthropic sector, like justice, equity and generosity.

On the issue of Canada’s 150th year of confederation, the sector must be asking ourselves how we learn from the past 150 years and turn our learning, investment and practice toward one better informed by communities who’ve survived and continue to thrive as stewards of this great land. The wisdom of Indigenous communities is well-suited to enable increased understanding and values-focused action for making our families, communities and our shared country a better, more vibrant and just place for us all.

I invite people to immerse themselves, through the critical, humourous, uncomfortable and creative endeavours of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples wisdom through art, theatre, film, spoken word and reading. Below are some recommendations to spark reflection and action as we create together the next 150 years with stronger relationships, more wisdom and increased equity.

The Road Forward, film by Marie Clements

Hey, you got a little racism stuck in your teeth, article by Vu Le

How a People Live, film by Lisa Jackson

Unsettling the Settler Within, book by Paulette Regan

Diamonds Wait, spoken word by Ostwelve

Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada, book by Chelsea Vowel

Trick of Treaty?, film by Alanis Obomsawin

Do you know someone we should profile as part of this series? Email us at philanthropistprofiles@gmail.com


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