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Ontario Arts Council


Erika Iserhoff

Toll-free in Ontario: ​​​​​​​​​​1-800-387-0058 ext. 7454

Indigenous Culture Fund: Small Grants

The Indigenous Culture Fund (ICF) was created to support First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities, culture and way of life. It was created through a process of extensive outreach and collaboration with Indigenous communities across Ontario. The fund is administered by Indigenous staff members at the Ontario Arts Council (OAC), on behalf of the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport (MTCS).


This program supports First Nations, Inuit and Métis community, culture and way-of-life projects in Ontario. These grants are for short-term projects. Applications are reviewed with a quick turnaround time. Ontario-based Indigenous organizations, groups and individuals are eligible. First-time applicants, youth and Elders are encouraged to apply. Eligible activities should support the program priorities (see below) and must fit into one of the five project types:

Community/Culture/Way of Life: for projects, events or activities. Examples:
  • organizing a cultural camp where Elders, language speakers and knowledge keepers take youth out on the land and share their teachings
  • hosting a gathering where traditional medicines and harvesting teachings are shared with community members

Indigenous Language Projects: for language revitalization projects, including workshops and classes. Examples:

  • running Indigenous language immersion classes in the community
  • participating in an Indigenous workshop, program or class as an individual learner

Cultural Research, Documentation, Tools and Resources: for research, documentation and the development of materials to support cultural awareness and traditional knowledge. Examples:

  • developing a protocols tool-kit to support archaeological digs in the community
  • researching and documenting stories about the local community and land to share with future generations

Cultural Mentorship or Learning: for projects involving training and mentorship in cultural knowledge or activities. Examples:

  • a master birch bark canoe maker mentors an emerging maker on traditional techniques for a period of time
  • a community group offers family and all-ages drumming workshops

Travel: for travel related expenses to attend and/or participate in community or cultural activities, events, workshops or conferences which are typically unavailable in your community. Examples:

  • attending a sweat lodge ceremony in another community
  • participating in a traditional medicines workshop in another region of the province


The priorities of all Indigenous Culture Fund (ICF) programs are to support:

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis community-based cultural projects
  • opportunities for Indigenous people and communities to build traditional culture and knowledge capacity
  • projects that improve the applicant’s ability to learn, access, practice, and engage in traditional Indigenous land-based activities, languages, teachings, protocols and ceremonies
  • Indigenous cultural knowledge exchange between generations and communities
  • youth-led and/or youth-engaged cultural projects
  • Elder-led and/or Elder-engaged cultural projects

Note: For art presentations or exhibitions that are contemporary and/or do not involve culture and community in the creation and delivery, see OAC’s Indigenous Arts Projects program.

Deadline dates

This program has an open deadline.

  • This means that applications are accepted at any time until the program budget is spent.
  • This program is now closed for the 2018-19 program year and is not accepting applications.
Grant notification will be available approximately eight to ten weeks after an application has been submitted.

Grant amount(s)

  • Community/Culture/Way of Life: maximum $5,000
  • Indigenous Language Projects: maximum $5,000
  • Cultural Research, Documentation, Tools and Resources: maximum $5,000
  • Cultural Mentorship or Learning: maximum $5,000
  • Travel: maximum $5,000

Important: Due to the number of applications we receive and the limited funds available, grants awarded may be smaller than the amount requested.

Eligible applicants

  • status and non-status First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals
  • Indigenous ad hoc groups, collectives and youth councils made up of at least 60 per cent Indigenous individuals
  • First Nations, Inuit or Métis organizations, including:
    • incorporated not-for-profit organizations
    • community centres, cultural centres, friendship centres, libraries, schools, health and social services organizations
    • band councils, tribal councils, Métis community councils and provincial organizations
  • applicants must work or operate in Ontario and have a permanent physical address in Ontario

Read the Indigenous Culture Fund Terms and Conditions for more eligibility information.

  • Applicants are eligible to receive up to two Indigenous Culture Fund Small Grants in a year, provided each grant is for a different activity. The limit of two per year is based on the date of the application deadline, not on the date the grant payment is received.
  • Applicants are eligible to receive two Indigenous Culture Fund Small Grants and one Indigenous Culture Fund Project grant in addition to other OAC project or operating grants. However, the same activities cannot be funded by both OAC and ICF. See Guide to OAC’s Project Programs.
  • You may only apply for one grant in any program per deadline.

Ineligible applicants

  • non-Indigenous individuals, groups, organizations, schools, colleges and universities
  • municipalities
  • students may not apply for projects related to their student work
  • for-profit enterprises

This program funds

  • administrative, programming, material, equipment and technical costs or fees to implement the proposed project
  • childcare costs for project staff and participants
  • projects that take up to one year to complete
  • out-of-province projects are eligible in the Travel category only
  • honourariums for Elders, traditional knowledge keepers and language teachers

Note: Applicants may apply for up to 100 per cent of the project costs, but are encouraged to seek revenue from a variety of sources where possible.

This program does not fund

  • powwow competitions (traditional powwows and special projects within powwows are eligible)
  • individual artists applying with arts creation projects (see OAC’s Indigenous Arts Projects program)
  • arts presentations or exhibitions that are contemporary and/or do not involve culture and community in the creation and delivery (see OAC’s Indigenous Arts Projects program)
  • ongoing organizational operating costs
  • purchase of land or real estate
  • permanent infrastructure and/or capital expenses/improvements
  • economic development initiatives
  • cultural tourism
  • professional and staff development
  • scholarships and bursaries
  • personal expenses

Activity timing

The activity for which you are requesting funding:

  • cannot start before the date your application is submitted
  • cannot finish before you receive your grant results
  • must be completed no more than one year after you receive the grant results

Final report requirements

If you receive a grant you must submit a final report upon completion of the project. A final report form will be available in Nova. Final reports for this program require grant recipients to provide:

  • description of the project undertaken and its outcomes, including details on any minor or approved changes to what had been outlined in the application
  • description of how grant funds were spent
  • visual documentation of the project such as pictures or video clips (optional)
  • visual documentation and/or an written explanation of how you acknowledged, or will acknowledge, ICF support for your project, if applicable
  • To apply

    Complete and submit an application in Nova, OAC’s online grant application system. You will be able to do this approximately two months before the deadline.

    Before applying, you must:

    You are encouraged to contact the program administrator and/or grants facilitator to discuss eligibility before applying.

    Your application includes:

    • basic information about the project
    • support documents:
      • CV, résumé or brief bios for group members
      • images, video or other documentation (optional)

    OAC is committed to having an accessible application process. OAC can, if needed, provide an alternate form or process to submit an application. See the Inclusive Application Process Policy. Oral applications may be accepted from Indigenous applicants.

    Complete instructions and requirements are in the application in Nova .

    For information on how assessors rate applications see the Indigenous Culture Fund Small Grants Assessment Criteria.