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Genevieve Francis Memorial Fund

Registered Name: The Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation

Business No: 735637126RR0001

Genevieve Francis Memorial Fund

The Genevieve Francis Memorial Fund, established in 2022 through the Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation, aims to provide support to sport, recreation, and physical activity opportunities for Indigenous women & girls in Atlantic Canada.

The fund was created by Ryan Francis (Acadia First Nation) after being named a finalist for the 2022 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award presented by the National Hockey League for his work related to the Indigenous Girls Hockey Program. Ryan’s inspiration for naming this fund in honour of his late grandmother came from a story his father shared with him after learning of his nomination:

CW: The following story contains subject matter related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women which could be traumatic and potentially triggering for some readers. For assistance, call 1-844-413-6649. This is a national, toll-free 24/7 crisis call line providing support for anyone who requires emotional assistance related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

The Story

In the summer of 1978 Genevieve made a commitment to her son, Robert, to attend one of his ball games. She would often ask Robert why he played sports as being one of only a few Mi’kmaw families in town, she found the racism and cruelty of opposing players and spectators to be too much. But Robert loved ball and it was one of the only environments he felt that he could contribute to and be valued by his teammates. “Okay, because you love it, I will come watch your next game”. The day for Genevieve to see Robert play never came.  

Two days after that conversation, at the age of 41, Genevieve was killed by gunshot while attempting to break up a fight between one of her sons and another youth. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and though charged with non-capital murder, the non-Indigenous man who killed her was found not guilty by a justice system that has historically failed to protect Indigenous people. 

The Meaning

For many, Genevieve is a number counted towards the horrifying statistics related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. For Ryan, she is his grandmother who did not have the opportunity to watch his father play sport in a safe environment nor was given the opportunity to see her son pass the love of sport down to his own child. 

While Genevieve was not given that opportunity, her legacy can breathe life into opportunities for other Indigenous women & girls to experience sport, recreation, and physical activity in a safe and welcoming environment built by community. 

And thus, the creation of The Genevieve Francis Memorial Fund. To honour the past, to celebrate the present, and empower our future. A small steering committee will oversee the design of the fund and develop a process for identifying and providing financial support to initiatives that directly and exclusively create opportunities for Indigenous women and girls to experience sport, recreation, and physical activity in a meaningful way.