The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) was established in 1972 to represent, nationally, the growing number of Friendship Centres emerging across Canada. The NAFC is a network of 107 Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations (PTAs) from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
For a full list of Friendship Centres and PTAs, please visit the Friendship Centres section of our website.
What We Do
Friendship Centres are Canada’s most significant off-reserve Indigenous service delivery infrastructure and are the primary providers of culturally enhanced programs and services to urban Indigenous residents. For over half a century Friendship Centres have been facilitating the transition of Indigenous people from rural, remote, and reserve life to an urban environment. For many Indigenous people, Friendship Centres are the first point of contact to obtain referrals to culturally-based socio-economic programs and services.
As the national body of the Friendship Centre Movement, the NAFC is democratically governed, status blind, and accountable to its membership.
The mission of the NAFC is to support Friendship Centres and PTAs in achieving their diverse missions and visions within their urban Indigenous communities.
Volunteer driven and operated, Friendship Centres began in the mid-1950s as the number of Indigenous people moving into larger urban areas increased. Indigenous agencies emerged out of a clear need for specialized services to help Indigenous newcomers to the city. These agencies would provide referrals and offer counselling on matters of employment, housing, education, health and liaison with other community organizations.
As the demand for services by urban migrating First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people increased so did the number of Friendship Centres. The nature of programming and services was quickly enhanced. In the late sixties, Friendship Centres began to organize into PTAs and the notion of establishing a national body to represent the growing number of Friendship Centres gained popularity.
By 1972, Friendship Centres had evolved from the provision of referrals to “front-line” delivery vehicles of social services and by 1996, administrative responsibility for the Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program (AFCP) was transferred from the Department of Canadian heritage to the NAFC. This new agreement meant that all operational funding for the AFCP would be administered by the NAFC to Friendship Centres and the PTAs. This transfer signified a new era in Indigenous/Government relations and, to this day highlights a unique relationship with the Government of Canada.
The NAFC, Today
Our relationships continue to evolve every day. In 2014, the Government of Canada and the NAFC announced the new Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS), a funding agreement aimed at ensuring the full inclusion of Indigenous people in Canada’s economy.
Today, over half a century after the initial development of Friendship Centres in Canada, the Friendship Centre Movement has expanded and continues to offer essential programs and services to urban Indigenous people across Canada.