Around this time last year, Jocelyn Formsma and her family were already on a difficult and challenging journey. Peggy Formsma, Jocelyn’s mother, had received a terminal cancer diagnosis, and the Formsmas were beginning to make some arrangements.

Jocelyn sat in conversation with us to share the story of her mother, Peggy, and her family’s idea for the Morningstar Fund and opportunities for The Circle’s network to get involved.


Please share a little bit more about your mom and her legacy…

From the time that I was very young, my Mother always took me and my sisters to ceremonies and traditional activities. It was a big part of her healing journey. I feel fortunate that I grew up with that.

Mom was always strongly connected to culture and ceremony. She would bring people with her to ceremony, especially young people. To her, it was important to bring people with her and offer the opportunity to others who may not always have the chance otherwise. She felt strongly that the connection to ceremony is something people need, and if we can help people to participate in that healing work, we should do that.

We called it the Morningstar Fund in because of a story my Mother would tell us. The story was from her childhood about the time she was in a boat on the water and she saw the morning star rise. She felt very connected to this story. She would have been 61 today, March 12, 2018.


Where did the Morningstar Fund begin? 

My vision of the Morningstar Fund is to carry on Peggy’s legacy of connecting people, especially young people, with ceremonies and culturally-based healing. We started the Fund as a way to honour her memory and to continue the work that she started while she was with us.

We started the Fund with the help of Thea Belanger at the Ontario Indigenous Youth Partnership Project and Tides Canada.


What is the vision behind The Morningstar Fund?

Too often, people really want to participate in traditional ceremonies, such as Teaching lodges, Sundances, and other seasonal ceremonies when they hear about them, but high costs of travel to get there and the need to purchase supplies are often a big barrier. The avenues for funding are and have always been too restricted. My Mother often found that when she was trying to seek funding to attend ceremonies, she was continually frustrated by the restrictions.

The idea of the Morningstar Fund is to give an opportunity, in an open and accessible way for:

  • Individuals to access funding specifically to participate in ceremonies and/or healing activities.
  • Communities to access funding specifically to host ceremonies and/or healing activities.

What has your experience been so far working within the traditional philanthropic framework?

My experience in setting up and now developing this Fund has been a good one thus far. When I reached out to Thea Belanger and Tides Canada, I was not sure how they would respond. However, they have been more than helpful at using their expertise and knowledge to assist me and my family establish this Fund to honour the memory of my Mother, Peggy. They have been more than willing to let me and my family lead the process. They asked, how do you see this? What’s your vision? What’s your families vision? We’ll make that happen. I’ve been amazed by the openness and flexibility. My family and I are at the centre of the vision and decision making.


What challenges, if any, are you facing now?

Our challenge and next step is developing the application processes, policies, and hosting platforms.

We have our idea and general direction – now we’re taking care of details and developing the fund over the next year. We’re looking to hopefully start granting by next year in 2019..


What message would you like to share with the traditional philanthropic sector?

I’d like to share a call to the philanthropic sector to encourage and support Indigenous-led and controlled initiatives. One of the problems happening in ‘the era of reconciliation’ is funders pivoting to fund Indigenous initiatives that are not necessarily led/owned/operated by Indigenous peoples.  

The philanthropy sector has the opportunity to not only provide more funding, but to ensure that many of the initiatives they fund are first supporting grassroots movements – and if they’re no grassroots movements happening in communities, to support them being started.


Are you still accepting donations to the MorningStar Fund? If so, how can people donate?

Yes, we are still accepting donations to the MorningStar Fund via Tides Canada Gifts.