Interview and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall, Ontario – Kashenni:iostha is a representative of C.U.R.E.A. (Coalition for Unity, Respect, Equality/Equity for All), which was formerly incorporated on October 14, 2020. C.U.R.E.A. is a racial justice and educational organization with the goal of advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion in the Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry areas.
Kashenni:iostha is a Mohawk of Akwesasne who has been residing off-reserve for about 15 years and has experienced systemic racism throughout her life. Kashenni:iostha has always considered herself to be shy and on the quiet side; however, since the week of May 24, 2021, when the country of Canada was hit with media releases of 215 skeletal remains found at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, she started talking within the public of Cornwall about how so many Indigenous families have been affected by the Indian Residential School Era.
Kashenni:iostha was invited to join the C.U.R.E.A. Board of Directors in the summer of 2021 following the organizing of the memorial walk for Indian Residential School survivors and those who never made it home that was held June 5, 2021, in the City of Cornwall. Kashenni: iostha’s role within C.U.R.E.A is to continue raising awareness for Indigenous Issues in Canada and to also aid in the awareness of issues residing within all racialized groups within the areas of Cornwall, Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – What do you like most about working at this non-profit?
I love working with C.U.R.E.A. to promote Indigenous awareness. Through my work, I’m able to connect to speak on a widespread level about issues and experiences that I hope will bring a good change to Cornwall City Council in 2026 as I have decided to run as the first Indigenous Councillor.
2 – What are the ways people in the community can support your organization? E.g., donations, volunteering, etc.
The ways the people in the community can support C.U.R.E.A. is via donations in the form of e-transfer to [email protected], attending and inviting C.U.R.E.A. to speak at workshops, stopping in to speak to them during community wide events, attending fundraisers hosted by them, as they are funded by donations, and signing up to volunteer as they grow their Board. If anyone is interested, they can also email C.U.R.E.A. at [email protected] to inquire about joining the Board of Directors.
3 – Tell us about an outcome or success story your organization has had.
“Through fundraising in 2022, C.U.R.E.A. was able to donate $621 to Agape Cornwall. I organized a Winter Holiday Fundraiser where a nontraditional, fully decorated white holiday tree with gifts donated by many community partners and residents was raffled off. I plan to host the Holiday Raffle every year. I am also planning an annual June 3rd formal fundraiser where a different issue racialized groups face regularly will be addressed. The first event will focus on Truth & Reconciliation.”
4 – Tell us about volunteers and what they mean to your organization.
“Currently, C.U.R.E.A. consist of Neha Chugh (co-founder), Stacey Ottley (co-founder) Michele Allinotte, Clement Gwanyama, Noreen Majeed, and Tara Chandran, who are all amazing at promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity for all! C.U.R.E.A. has some great volunteers who continue to chip away at the glass ceiling by raising awareness and promoting as much anti-racism as possible. It is a big job, but it has to be done so that everyone can live and feel safe in the country they choose to live in. In the words of Crazy Horse – Oglala Lakota Sioux, “I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again.”
5 – What is your organization’s most significant accomplishment?
“Black History Month 2022 C.U.R.E.A. hosted an online Facebook meet with Spider Jones, who talked about the Black History of Cornwall and Stormont, Dundas, and Glengarry. For Black History Month 2023, Stacey Ottley (co-founder of C.U.R.E.A.) will be moderating a Black History Month event at the Cornwall Public Library. Everyone at C.U.R.E.A. is so proud to be promoting and being involved in events directly related to Black History Month – along side any and all racialized awareness initiatives.”
In conclusion, Kashenni:iostha pledges to continue raising awareness for Indigenous issues so that the country of Canada can actively work towards real truth and reconciliation for the generations to come, with hopes of ending that intergenerational trauma cycle faced by so many Indigenous families.
To learn more about C.U.R.E.A., visit their website. https://www.cureacuret.ca/