Turtle Island Scholarship

The Cities Initiative is committed to building meaningful relationships with First Nations and Tribal Nations from across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin as part of our journey towards Reconciliation.

To that end, we are launching the Turtle Island Scholarship – a program to enhance our direct engagement with First Nations and Tribal Nations and work collaboratively to address challenges facing our shared waters.

This new scholarship provides a platform for the Cities Initiative to work directly with First Nations and Tribal Nations in Canada and the United States. It will further support our mission to ensure that all communities have a voice in advancing the environmental, economic, and social health of communities across the basin.

This Scholarship will provide sustained engagement and support for First Nations and Tribal Nations by providing:

  • Complimentary membership to the Cities Initiative with access to a network of more than 270 local governments in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin
  • Free registration and travel support to our annual conferences, a forum to exchange best practices and learn about key issues impacting our region
  • Priority access to Cities Initiative programs and opportunities
  • Opportunities to co-develop projects to address critical issues impacting First Nations and Tribal communities


Members of the Cities Initiative recognize the importance of working more closely with First Nations and Tribal communities to protect and restore our freshwater resources, fight climate change, expand and modernize water infrastructure, and support economic transformation in the spirit of equity and true partnership. The Turtle Island Scholarship is the first major step in our journey towards building meaningful relationships with our neighbouring nations and advancing Reconciliation. Our aim is to raise the profile of First Nations and Tribal voices in our collective action.

“A core principle of our culture is the nurturing and protection of our environment, to ensure that our generations to come can have access to clean waters. Having the opportunity to engage mayors and cities located along our shared waterways is key to ensuring that we can all equally benefit from this essential resource. I am very pleased Kahnawà:ke is included in the Cities Initiative and that the organization recognizes the importance of First Nations’ perspectives in the organization’s work to promote a healthy environment, economy and society in our basin.”




Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer
Mohawk Council of Kahnawá:ke
Inaugural recipient of the Turtle Island Scholarship


Everyone can contribute to the growth of the Turtle Island Scholarship. Consider donating today (U.S. residents)

Corporations and foundations can also support the development of the endowment for the Turtle Island Scholarship. To learn more about the Turtle Island Scholarship and how you can make a difference, please contact our Senior Director of Membership and Development, Phil Murphy-Rhéaume, through email at phillipe.murphy-rheaume@glslcities.org.


The Cities Initiative believes that when voices closest to the people we collectively serve are not at the table, we lose out on valuable ideas to improve the lives of all our residents. We cannot effectively deliver on our mission without working collaboratively with First Nations and Tribal governments.

The Turtle Island Scholarship signifies a broader commitment to fostering enduring partnerships between municipal and First Nations/Tribal governments. Our commitments include:

  • Developing an organizational Reconciliation Action Plan and aiding other municipalities in creating their own plans.
  • Facilitating platforms for knowledge-sharing and best practices between municipal and Indigenous governments.
  • Hosting an annual summit to promote collaboration and identify shared priorities
  • Advocating for First Nations and Tribal water priorities with municipal, state, provincial, and federal governments
  • Cultivating partnerships to drive economic reconciliation and innovation in the water sector and sustainable industries
  • Working together to ensure needed infrastructure is implemented basin-wide.