Kris Archie

Indigenous Ways of Knowing and Redefining Philanthropy

Kris Archie, Ts’qescenemc ell  Seme7 is passionate about learning, community and liberation. 

Kris is the Chief Executive Officer of The Circle, a Fellow at the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue and an instructor in SFU’s Continuing Studies Certificate in Community Engagement Program.

Kris is the Chief Executive Officer of The Circle on Philanthropy and Aboriginal Peoples in Canada where she has focused on building a national member based organization that is increasingly focused on moving money from Settler Philanthropy to Indigenous communities, nations, movements and projects. Prior to joining The Circle, Kris was the project manager for the Vancouver Foundation’s youth homelessness initiative, called Fostering Change.

Kris is an experienced facilitator and teacher - serving as an instructor in SFU's Continuing Studies - Dialogue and Civic Engagement Program. She was instrumental in the programming of the 2019 Jack P. Blaney Award for Dialogue with Siila Watt Cloutier and taught in the 2022 summer Semester in Dialogue on New Approaches to Philanthropy.

Understanding Indigenous Philanthropy

Have you seen the salmon run? Imagine that you're standing at a creek bed. You're seeing the bright red salmon fighting their way up to the river, and dancing, shaking their back tail. Making a space for the eggs. Other salmon coming up, fertilizing the eggs and covering it back off. And then they swim off to die.

A salmon goes through its life cycle, just to come all the way back home to spawn, to put forward energy for the next generation. And then to die, to never see what happens next. Salmon are an undeniable and visual reminder that Indigenous ancestors have, since the beginning of time, gone through their days with the intensive purpose that at the end of their days they have left this world a better place.

For Kris, the ways in which salmon behave can be used as a basis to understand Indigenous philanthropy. Salmon leads her to think about examples of Indigenous ways of generosity, wealth redistribution, and ethical stewardship of resources. In her work in the settler-created philanthropic sector, it’s important to help folks recognize and understand Indigenous world views. 

Indigenous communities have millennia of experience learning and generating wisdom about ethical stewardship of resources. This is far more reaching than settler-philanthropic behaviour and can teach us about generosity, retribution, on legacy-making that is deeply embedded in our teachings and in our laws. How is it that Indigenous philanthropic behaviour leaves a legacy that can be learned from and carried on? Kris will explore a practical approach to giving people wisdom about how to activate inside of these spheres of influence for the ethical stewardship of resources.

About Kris's Fellowship

Through her fellowship at the Centre, Kris Archie is interested in exploring seasonal understandings of philanthropy that are informed by living systems. Kris aims to amplify Indigenous world-views and bring Indigenous scholarship in a time and place where the settler-philanthropic sector is trying to make sense of how it remains relevant in the world.

Some of the questions that Kris is working through during her fellowship include:

  • How can the living systems of the seasons inform our practices and behaviours as human beings, both with other humans and other living beings and entities?
  • What is the relationship of humans to land through each season?
  • How can those natural rhythms of being in deep relationship to land / place / culture / language / story activate our wisest behaviours? Both philanthropically and more broadly regarding how it is to be a good human, a good steward.

During her fellowship, Kris will dig into the above questions and conversations, to invite others into dialogue and to learn from and understand one another. Her fellowship will serve as a foundational framework for understanding our teachings and the life cycle of being a good ancestor.