If you are a member of the media and are looking for comment, please contact Annie Aningmiuq (aaningmiuq@nafc.ca or communications@nafc.ca).

The official spokespeople for the NAFC are Jocelyn Formsma (Executive Director), and Christopher Sheppard (Board President). All requests must be sent through the Communications Team. The NAFC’s Communications Team works to raise awareness and support regarding the Friendship Centre Movement, as well as broadening the understanding of the Urban Indigenous experience across Canada. 

The NAFC currently uses TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedIn, and YouTube please give us a follow.

Contact the Communications Team! 
Our Areas of Expertise 
  • Friendship Centres and the Friendship Centre Movement
  • Anything relating to Urban Indigeneity (issues, population, demographics, etc.)
  • Our research, please see here.  
Friendship Centre Stories

Here you’ll find stories and articles written in-house about Friendship Centres from across the country. If you have a story you’d like to tell, please send an e-mail to communications@nafc.ca

*New Posts*

NAFC Covid-19 Interim Report - March 2021

NAFC Covid-19 Interim Report

Coming Soon.

PRESS RELEASE: The NAFC announces the Investment Readiness Program Round 2 Recipients

PRESS RELEASE: The NAFC announces the Investment Readiness Program Round 2 Recipients

MARCH 10, 2021

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is pleased to announce the recipients of Round 2 of the Investment Readiness Program (IRP):

  • Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan (AFCS), Saskatchewan
  • Flin Flon Aboriginal Friendship Centre, Inc., Flin Flon, Manitoba
  • People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre, Stephenville, Newfoundland
  • Red Deer Native Friendship Society, Red Deer, Alberta
  • The Pas Friendship Centre Inc., The Pas, Manitoba
  • Under One Sky - Monoqonuwicik-Neoteetjg Mosigisg Inc., Fredericton, New Brunswick
  • Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society, Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Centre d’amitié autochtone de Val d’or, Val-d'Or, Quebec

The NAFC is one of five Readiness Support Partners working to distribute funding to increase investment readiness with social purpose organizations. The IRP, through the five funding partners, will distribute $50 million to social purpose organizations to help build their capacity to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market. As a Readiness Support Partner, the NAFC is administering over $2 million in funding from the Government of Canada that will be made available as non-repayable capital to Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations.

Four Friendship Centres will be using their IRP funding to expand their existing successful social enterprises. The Flin Flon Aboriginal Friendship Centre owns and operates three enterprises and will use IRP funds to explore growth opportunities for the Wihkipow Restaurant, Kokoms Corner Gift Shop and Granny's Place (an overnight stay enterprise). The Vancouver Friendship Centre is expanding their increasingly popular Klatawa Bike Shop to include a mobile bike clinic, which will provide repairs, bicycle tune-up stations, and education programs. 

The Under One Sky - Monoqonuwicik-Neoteetjg Mosigisg Inc. will be using their funds to expand the Indigenous Cultural Diversity Training program, an education-based enterprise that is made available to healthcare providers, educational institutes, local businesses, and municipal agencies for the purposes of Indigenous directed cultural diversity training. The Centre d'amitié autochtone de Val-d'Or (CAAVD) will be using their funding to assist in the growth and expansion of their CAAVD hotel service, identified as a standout large scale project, which works closely with local First Nations in providing temporary lodging to individuals accessing health care services in Val-d’Or

Expansion plans are also on the horizon for the People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre, who will be using the IRP funding to explore a redesign and upgrade to the commercial complex that they manage, with the hopes of increasing revenues for the centre itself.

“With IRP funding, we were able to partner with the College of the North Atlantic to contract an architectural student and a certified architect to help conceptualize potential changes and upgrades,” said Patrick Park-Tighe executive director of the People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre. Regarding the significance of the IRP, Patrick had this to say, “The impact-- now and going forward—of IRP funding on our social enterprise is real. This support will help guarantee the sustainability of our enterprise but also help enter us into a largely unexplored sector of the economy that has too often left Indigenous businesses and employees behind”.

Other Friendship Centres have opted to use the IRP funding to pursue hospitality endeavors.  The Red Deer Native Friendship Society would like to develop an innovative Ghost Tour tourism attraction, where they plan to weave in local Indigenous history about Red Deer throughout the ghost tour. The Pas Friendship Centre Inc. will be using their funds to develop a landmark Indigenous Artist Emporium where Indigenous artists will be able to display and sell their artwork to the thousands of tourists that visit the area every summer.

Furthering the Honouring Her Spark: A Saskatchewan Indigenous Women’s Economic Framework, the AFCS will be using their funding to assist Friendship Centres in Saskatchewan in formalizing and further developing Indigenous Women’s Coalitions, which will seek to connect women entrepreneurs with local Friendship Centres in the development of social enterprises that support both the centres and the local community.

The third call for IRP applications opened on November 9, 2020 and closed on November 23, 2020. The NAFC received a total of nine applications for a total amount of roughly $700,000. The NAFC is in the process of reviewing and selecting projects for the final round and will announce recipients in the following weeks.

To learn more about the IRP and to read a summary of all the prospective projects, please visit the Investment Readiness Program page on the NAFC website.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Sara Kelly
Communications Officer
communications@nafc.ca

FOR IRP INQUIRIES:

Shady Hafez
Special Projects Advisor
shafez@nafc.ca

The NAFC represents over 100 local Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations in every province and territory in Canada (except Prince Edward Island). Friendship Centres are urban Indigenous community hubs that provide a wide range of programs and services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living in urban, rural, and northern communities. Collectively, Friendship Centres are the largest and most comprehensive urban Indigenous service delivery network in Canada.

PRESS RELEASE: Friendship Centres ready to assist with urban Indigenous Covid-19 vaccine rollout

PRESS RELEASE: Friendship Centres ready to assist with urban Indigenous Covid-19 vaccine rollout

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FEBRUARY 26, 2021

Approximately two-thirds of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) members have expressed interest in supporting national vaccine roll out, representing nearly 60 sites.

“We know that at least 50 to 60 Friendship Centres across the country are ready and able to take on a Covid-19 vaccine clinic should they be supported by the appropriate decision makers,” said NAFC executive director Jocelyn Formsma. “We also know of many other urban Indigenous organizations that are also interested and able to provide supports.”

As vaccine rollout advances across the country, the NAFC expresses concerns that without a standard or plan, urban Indigenous people may be left out in some regions.

“We have been encouraged to see some provinces include urban Indigenous specific strategies in their overall vaccination action plans, however, not all provinces yet have them and for those that do, the strategies must include concrete follow up,” continues Formsma. “The best way to engage with urban Indigenous community members is to ensure that Friendship Centres and other urban Indigenous organizations are full partners in vaccine rollout. Otherwise, we fear that the level of vaccine accessibility and uptake in urban Indigenous communities will be unnecessarily low.”

The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recently updated its Guidance on the prioritization of key populations for COVID-19 immunization to include in Stage 2 - “Adults in or from Indigenous communities not offered vaccine in Stage 1.” Previously, only “Adults in Indigenous communities” were included in Stage 1. This update ensures that Indigenous adults, regardless of residency, are included in priority planning.

“Indigenous peoples are constantly traveling between urban and home communities, there are the same comorbidities, and lack of accessibility to culturally safe vaccination sites, so it is essential that urban Indigenous people are treated with the same urgency as on-reserve, northern, and remote First Nations, Metis and Inuit,” says NAFC President Christopher Sheppard.

The NAFC is encouraged by recent urban Indigenous vaccine clinics that have already been implemented in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Whitehorse, with local urban Indigenous partners and Indigenous governments, and are aware of plans that are in place for more clinics in other regions soon. The NAFC would like to see these examples of culturally safer vaccine clinics replicated broadly across the country.

Ultimately, the NAFC would like to ensure that the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is swift and efficient for the safety and security of all Canadians. Friendship Centres are ready to assist provincial and federal governments to ensure that urban Indigenous communities are prioritized in Covid-19 immunizations strategies.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Sara Kelly
Communications Officer
communications@nafc.ca

The NAFC represents over 100 local Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations in every province and territory in Canada (except Prince Edward Island). Friendship Centres are urban Indigenous community hubs that provide a wide range of programs and services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living in urban, rural, and northern communities. Collectively, Friendship Centres are the largest and most comprehensive urban Indigenous service delivery network in Canada.

ATTACHMENTS:

Canadian Healthy Cities Initiative

Canadian Healthy Cities Initiative

CHCI_2021

 

PRESS RELEASE 
February 9, 2021

COVID-19 has seriously impacted our access and use of public spaces. This is especially true in Indigenous communities that are already experiencing vulnerability as a result of systemic inequalities. 

Friendship Centres and Indigenous communities have shown creativity and resourcefulness in improvising temporary and longer-lasting solutions that enable people to connect and access public spaces safely while still respecting public health measures, including social distancing and mask-wearing.

Public spaces are the glue to our Indigenous communities. They are a big part of what makes our community feel safe, vibrant and connected. The Healthy Communities Initiative will allow us to continue creating inclusive spaces and connections that foster belonging. 

The Healthy Communities Initiative is a $31 million investment from the Government of Canada to support communities as they create and adapt public spaces to respond to the new realities of COVID-19. 

Funding can be used for adapting public spaces, or for programming or services that respond to COVID-19 and serve the public or a community disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Indigenous organizations and communities are encouraged to engage the community when designing their projects. 

Healthy Communities Initiative projects will create safe and vibrant public spaces, improve mobility options and provide innovative digital solutions to connect people and improve health. 

  • Creating safe and vibrant public spaces: Projects that create safe and vibrant public spaces improve open spaces, parks, commercial main streets, and access to other public spaces. For example, these projects could create new pedestrian zones, revitalize an alleyway or build a pop-up ice rink. 
  • Improving mobility options:  Projects that improve mobility options provide transportation options or adaptations for people to stay safe and physically distant while walking, biking or using public transit access. For example, these projects could add social distancing markings on sidewalks or create traffic calming pop-ups.
  • Digital solutions: Projects that provide digital solutions use data and technology in innovative ways to connect people, improve health or facilitate public engagement. For example, these projects could install free public wifi hotspots, develop a mental wellbeing app or use an online platform to create virtual town halls. 

With funding between $5,000 and $250,000, the Healthy Communities Initiative aims to support local efforts to develop small-scale infrastructure solutions, programming and services for communities across Canada. Local governments, charities, Indigenous communities and non-profits are all welcome to apply for funding, this includes Friendship Centres.

Whether it’s pop-up bike paths, community gardens, art installations or Wi-Fi hot spots or other programs and services, our community members want to be able to work, play and learn in safe, vibrant and inclusive spaces.

We know that our communities feel the pandemic’s impacts more than others. Some lack public spaces they can access safely. This funding aims to help address that.

Organizations can apply to the Healthy Communities Initiative starting February 9, 2021, at 1:00 PM EST through March 9, 2021, at 5:00 PM PST

Visit canadahealthycommunitiesinitiative.ca to find out more about how to apply, explore resources for applicants and sign up for community mobilization sessions.

For Friendship Centres requiring more information please contact the NAFC’s Special Projects Advisor, Shady Hafez, at shafez@nafc.ca

ATTACHMENTS:

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Sara Kelly
Communications Officer
communications@nafc.ca

The NAFC represents over 100 local Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations in every province and territory in Canada (except Prince Edward Island). Friendship Centres are urban Indigenous community hubs that provide a wide range of programs and services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living in urban, rural, and northern communities. Collectively, Friendship Centres are the largest and most comprehensive urban Indigenous service delivery network in Canada.

NAFC executive director shares the great success of the 2020 #TakeCareInCovid campaign at the NCCIH Virtual Series

NAFC executive director shares the great success of the 2020 #TakeCareInCovid campaign at the NCCIH Virtual Series

NCCIH Webinar_Jocelyn speaking

 

 

On February 3, Jocelyn Formsma, NAFC executive director, was pleased to take part in the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH)’s Virtual Series on First Nations, Inuit and Métis people and Covid-19.

During the series, Jocelyn highlighted the NAFC’s #TakeCareInCovid campaign, which launched in the summer of 2020, in collaboration with Well Living House and Argyle PR. The goal of this campaign was to help dispel myths and misconceptions around COVID-19 and the urban Indigenous community. With Friendship Centres being the first point of contact for many urban Indigenous people, this campaign was aimed at supporting the community in accessing credible, and culturally appropriate information regarding COVID-19.

 

A series of 30-second ads were created in English and French, featuring Anishnaabe comedian Ryan McMahon. In addition to the ads, Jocelyn and Dr. Janet Smylie of Well Living House hosted three webinars, including:

  • Webinar #1: Indigenous Community Responses to COVID-19 in Urban and Related Homelands
  • Webinar #2: What is the second wave, and what do I need to know about to keep my circle safe?
  • Webinar #3: Using medicines and ceremony to stay strong during COVID-19

These webinars can be viewed on the NAFC website (https://www.nafc.ca/en/resources-research/covid-19/covid-webinars-and-videos).

The #TakeCareInCovid campaign was a huge success–receiving over 5 million impressions (number of times the ads were seen) and over 70,000 clicks to the NAFC COVID-19 resource page.

The NAFC is currently exploring their options in launching a follow-up campaign to support vaccine roll out for the urban Indigenous community.

Stay tuned for more details!

Friendship Centre Movement: In the News
Friendship Centres are working hard to support their communities during COVID-19. Their dedication and compassion is what drives our Movement. Over the past several weeks, here are a few times Friendship Centres have been mentioned in the news.
 
April
March
 
February
 
 January
 

2020 

 
Do you have a program or story you would like to share on how your Friendship Centre is supporting your community during COVID-19? Please contact us

 Last updated: April 11, 2021

Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing systemic racism in healthcare

Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing systemic racism in healthcare

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is pleased to release a follow-up report on the forum. This report summarizes the forum as well as key themes discussed and lists the NAFC’s recommendations to advance work in improving health care outcomes and addressing racism in healthcare for urban Indigenous people. 

The full report can be read here: Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing Systemic Racism in Healthcare (PDF, 728 KB).

About

On November 6 2020, the NAFC hosted an online forum on systemic racism in healthcare. Our goal with this forum was to honour urban Indigenous experiences in accessing our right to healthcare as well as the experiences of those who transport between on-reserve and northern communities to urban settings.

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties in posting the video of the forum, however, you can listen to the audio here

This forum was a crucial first-step in highlighting the important work that needs to be done in order to ensure Indigenous people can access their right to healthcare with dignity and respect, however, our work does not end here.  It is our view that an Indigenous, community-informed process is essential in our path forward as we work to create and provide a report to provincial and federal governments regarding our recommendations. 

During the forum, we discussed:
 
  • the action that is currently happening on the ground in our communities
  • the role of urban Indigenous service providers in healthcare
  • explore Indigenous-led healthcare systems in place
This discussion will also seek to provide recommendations for moving forward to ensure that Indigenous peoples are able to access healthcare services with dignity, without fear and, free from discrimination.
Panelists
  • Senator Yvonne Boyer – Senator, Senate of Canada; former Associate Director for the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa; former Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Health and Wellness at Brandon University
  • Jennifer Brazeau – Executive Director, Centre d'amitié autochtone de Lanaudiére
  • Édith Cloutier – Executive Director, Centre d'amitié autochtone de Val d'or
  • Dr. Alika Lafontaine – Physician, Alberta Health Services; Associate Clinical Professor, Lecturer, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Janet Smylie – Director of Well Living House, Research Scientist at St. Michael's Hospital, Physician, Professor at University of Toronto
  • Moderated by Jocelyn Formsma – Executive Director, The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC)
Background
On September 28, 2020, Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman and mother of seven died in Centre hospitalier de Lanaudiere, in Joliette, Quebec. The horrendous and degrading moments before Joyce Echaquan’s death were captured by her via Facebook Live. These harrowing moments called the world to bear witness to the deplorable racism, abuse and inhumane treatment Ms. Echaquan was subjected to prior to her death, all at the hands of healthcare workers entrusted and sworn to care for her.
 
This tragedy has led to raw outrage, grief and pain for Ms. Echaquan’s family and friends, as well as hundreds of Indigenous communities nationwide. Regrettably, the racism Ms. Echaquan was subjected to is a common reality for many Indigenous persons accessing their right to healthcare.
Friendship Centres provide essential support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic

Friendship Centres provide essential support throughout the Covid-19 pandemic

As Canadians have shuttered into their homes during these last few months to ride out the waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) would like to acknowledge their member Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations who have gone above and beyond to support their Indigenous communities.

Understanding the financial hardships felt by many Canadians these past few months, our Friendship Centres have been working around the clock to create food and cleaning supply hampers.

Figure 1:  A member of the Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre prepares weekly hampers for community members.

The Lloydminster Native Friendship Centre purchased supplies for 278 weekly grocery hampers and cleaning/sanitizing packages for their membership families and elders. They are extremely proud to announce that their hampers have reached 536 individuals. (see Figure 1) 

Despite our necessity to stay physically distanced from one another, many Friendship Centres have expanded their services–or created new positions entirely–so that they can be offered remotely.

The Rocky Native Friendship Centre Society created two new online support worker positions aimed at providing training for community members on how to access different technology platforms such as Zoom. For many Friendship Centres, video calls have become the new norm for connecting with clients. (see Figure 2)

Social media platforms have also become vital tools that have allowed Friendship Centres to stay connected with their community during the pandemic. Laurianne Petiquay, executive director of the Centre d'amitié autochtone La Tuque, says that they “have made more use of their social networks these past few months and have been able to reach many new members!”

However, as great as virtual connections can be, the reality is that not all community members have access to systems that allow them to connect technology.

“An important first step for connecting virtually with our community,” said Jannah Kohlman, executive director of the Nawican Friendship Centre, “was to identify clients who do not have access to these means.”

“Through federal funding, we were able to purchase technology–phone, laptops, tablets–for those in dire need of support during isolation to prevent relapsing and encourage social interaction through these other means,” continued Kohlman.

Despite the success found in these virtual connections, the temporary shutdown of transportation services offered by many Friendship Centres, has been very difficult for our elders as it has resulted in both physical and social isolation.

“Some of our elders utilize these services regularly so that they can stay connected with family, attend work opportunities and medical appointments,” said Anna Zanella, executive director of the Friendship House Association of Prince Rupert.

Figure 2: Carlee EaglePlume, youth coordinator from the Miywasin Friendship Centre, leads an online crafting class for youth over Zoom.
Miywasin Friendship Centre

Thankfully, this shutdown did not last too long and the Friendship House Association of Prince Rupert were thrilled when they were finally able to re-open their transportation services along the Highway 16 Corridor to their elders.

“It has been our great pleasure to meet with our elders, who remain upbeat and continue to take everything in stride,” continues Zanella. “They are truly an inspiration!”

This pandemic has highlighted the importance of our Friendship Centres in providing programs that not only assist members physical, but their mental well-being as well.

The Port Alberni Friendship Centre have initiated a new program called, Switchback, which consists of teachings around self-awareness, dealing with internal and external conflict, identifying and coming to terms with past trauma, and recognizing triggers and what to do with those feelings.

“We felt that students really needed to learn coping and self-esteem strategies,” said Cyndi Stevens, executive director of the Port Alberni Friendship Centre. “This program teaches so much–life skills, increases their confidence and self-esteem, and more importantly, it reconnects the youth,” continued Stevens.

Another key component of the program includes inviting elders to connect with the group virtually in order to provide the younger generation with wisdom, encouragement, and love.

And although many Friendship Centres were forced to temporarily close, not a minute was wasted as a few Friendship Centres, such as the Wachiay Friendship Centre, used this time to complete renovations that will better serve their community.

At the Wachiay Studio Inc.–an enterprise that promotes Indigenous art and culture by providing affordable printing services to Aboriginal artists, “we have completely removed the offices, which will allow more room for our new presses and dryer,” said Michael Colclough, executive director of the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society.

And we cannot forget about having a little fun! Friendship Centres have enjoyed organizing many different crafting activities for their community members over these last few months. The Rocky Native Friendship Centre Society have delivered several different crafting kits to community members in varying themes such as, beading, tobacco or mint planting, birdhouses, and more! The Nawican Friendship Centre organized a Covid-19 mask decorating concert for their youth! (see Figure 3)

Figure 3: Youth from the Nawican Friendship Centre show of the masks that they created.
Nawican Friendship Centre

Many Friendship Centres have also used this time to develop creative outdoor programming activities. At a time where our stress levels are at an all-time high, connecting back with Mother Earth and the land can be extremely beneficial.

The Miywasin Friendship Centre had a lot of fun organizing physically distanced programming, which have allowed community members to gather in small numbers for activities such as medicine picking and an Indigenous history scavenger hunt across Medicine Hat! (see Figure 4)

However, despite the success that many Friendship Centres have been able to achieve during these last few months, the stark reality remains that Covid-19 is here to stay for the foreseeable future and many are worried about what the next few months will bring.

Immediate concerns felt by my many Friendship Centres are regarding the ongoing physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of their community members and staff–many who have been working overtime these past few months.

At a time like this, volunteers are more important than ever! Wondering how you can help? Touch base with your local Friendship Centre to see how you can be of assistance! We are all in this together!

Figure 4: A youth participates in an outdoor scavenger hunt organized by the Miywasin Friendship Centre.

Miywasin Friendship Centre (2)
NAFC announces the recipients of Round 1 of the Investment Readiness Program

NAFC announces the recipients of Round 1 of the Investment Readiness Program

NAFC_IRP_GoC

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is pleased to announce the following Round 1 Investment Readiness Program recipients:

  • Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association, Alberta
  • Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society, Smithers, British Columbia
  • First Light St. John's Friendship Centre, St. John’s, Newfoundland
  • Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre Association, Lac La Biche, Alberta
  • Lillooet Friendship Centre Society, Lillooet, British Columbia
  • Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre, Thompson, Manitoba
  • Regroupement des centres d'amitié autochtones du Québec, Quebec
  • Victoria Native Friendship Centre, Victoria, British Columbia
  • Wachiay Friendship Centre Society, Courtenay, British Columbia

The NAFC is one of five Readiness Support Partners working to distribute funding to increase investment readiness with social purpose organizations (SPOs).

“The Investment Readiness Program gives the NAFC an opportunity to support Friendship Centres in developing and growing their social enterprises,” says Jocelyn Formsma, NAFC executive director. “We hope to not only achieve investment readiness, but also to help Friendship Centres build capacity, which in turn helps them to build community wealth while addressing community needs.”

“By providing capital in the form of non-repayable grants, we are ensuring that Friendship Centres do not have to take on the burden of debt while starting, growing or scaling their revenue generating enterprises,” continues Formsma.

“We greatly appreciate the opportunity given by the National Association of Friendship Centres to explore and develop a long term sustainable plan for our Centre for the benefit of all Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” said Donna Webster, executive director of Lac La Biche Canadian Native Friendship Centre Association.

For many Friendship Centres, this funding could not have come at a better time given the financial strain many have felt due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are at the explore stage of our vision to create a social enterprise focused on fair-trade and authentic Indigenous arts and crafts,” explains Stewart Anderson, strategic advisor for the Victoria Native Friendship Centre. “The funding through the Investment Readiness Program will allow us to look at potential projects during these uncertain times, without having to risk our own financial resources, which we can fully allocate to community needs.”

For the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society, the funding will be used to create a business model for a commercial community kitchen at their hall and the creation of an Indigenous Culinary Arts Program and associated catering business.

The funding we were awarded will “ensure that we have sustainable access to food in times of crisis, and it will ensure that we can both provide access to food in our community while generating collective wealth,” stated Annette Morgan, executive director of Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society.

For others, this funding will be used to benefit Indigenous artists and “create incredible positive changes within our community,” said Michael Colclough, executive director of the Wachiay Friendship Centre Society.

The Wachiay Friendship Centre Society will use their funding to upgrade the equipment at the Wachiay Studio Inc. – an enterprise that promotes Indigenous art and culture by providing affordable printing services to Aboriginal artists.

“Our new screen-printing equipment will more than triple our current daily capacity to print textile merchandise and limited-edition art,” continued Colclough.

A few of the other projects that will be initiated with this funding include: a Boutique Inn, online stores for selling Indigenous crafts, and business plans for various social enterprise projects.

Recipients of Round 2 of the IRP will be announced shortly. To learn more about the IRP and to read a summary of all the prospective projects,, please visit the Investment Readiness Program page on the NAFC website.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:

Sara Kelly
Communications Officer
communications@nafc.ca

FOR IRP INQUIRIES: 

Shady Hafez
Special Projects Advisor
shafez@nafc.ca

The NAFC represents over 100 local Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations in every province and territory in Canada (except Prince Edward Island). Friendship Centres are urban Indigenous community hubs that provide a wide range of programs and services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living in urban, rural, and northern communities. Collectively, Friendship Centres are the largest and most comprehensive urban Indigenous service delivery network in Canada.

The NAFC hires new Partnerships Manager

The NAFC hires new Partnerships Manager

October 19, 2020

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is pleased toannounce the hiring of its new Partnerships Manager, Francyne Joe. A member of the Nlaka'pamux Nation, Francyne heads the new Partnerships Department which will include responsibilities for external partner relations, member relations, youth leadership training, and capacity development. Her first-hand knowledgeand experien ce on national Indigenous matters such as MMIWG, human rights, housing, education, justice, and economic determination have made her a fierce advocate for Indigenous people in Canada. She has presented on these issues across Canada, at the United Nations, Organization of American States, in Mexico, Morocco and Peru.

"NAFC is excited to welcome Francyne Joe to our growing and inspiring team!" said Jocelyn Formsma,

NAFC executive director. "She has a solid reputation for Indigenous advocacy, and weare so pleased that she is joining us at a time when the possibilities are limitless"

Ms. Joe's role will be to determine and further develop potential partnership opportunities for promoting community-driven research, supporting friendship centre services, and collaborating on initiatives to support NAFC's mission, values, and strategic direction. With her extensive work history, government experience, and network, her goal is to increase NAFC's profile andadvance the numerous friendship centers that provide critical supports for urban Indigenous people across Canada.

"I am pleased to join the NAFC team and look forward to working alongside the local friendship centers (FCs) who provided essential services and programs to more than 1.4 million urban Indigenous people, families and youth last year. When I was a young mother, the friendship centre not only afforded my family with cultural programs and day-camps, it was a safe place to socialize and be yourself. And especially during this COVID-period, we need to recognize the significant supports FCs provide our urban Indigenous communities".

Friendship Centres cautiously hopeful by the government’s recommitment to Indigenous issues

Friendship Centres cautiously hopeful by the government’s recommitment to Indigenous issues

On September 23, 2020, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada, delivered the Speech from the Throne to open the second session of the 43rd Parliament. This year’s throne speech held considerable weight due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted Indigenous people.

“We are feeling cautiously hopeful”, said Jocelyn Formsma, executive director of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC). “While the NAFC is encouraged by the government’s recommitment to Indigenous issues, we are concerned that a focus on a distinctions-based approach will leave urban Indigenous people and organizations as an afterthought.”

The Government of Canada’s current distinctions-based approach to Indigenous engagement and funding focuses on First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, without specifically accounting for those who are in urban or rural areas.

“We would be reassured to know that the Government of Canada is including urban Indigenous people in its distinctions-based approach,” said NAFC president Christopher Sheppard, “However, our experience thus far is that a distinctions-based approach often leaves urban Indigenous people, organizations, and unique communities behind.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendship Centres have been on the frontlines providing essential community-driven supports and filling gaps. Urban Indigenous community members rely on Friendship Centres now, more than ever, for trusted information-sharing and a variety of wrap-around supports.

“The NAFC is willing to roll up their sleeves in whatever way we can to assist our urban Indigenous community members in getting through this next year, but we need to be properly resourced by the Government to do so,” said Formsma.

“The vast majority of Indigenous people are currently living in urban, rural, remote and northern communities–off-reserve, outside of Inuit Nunangat, and off Métis settlements,” continued Sheppard. “Because of that, it is crucial that organizations–such as the NAFC, that serve the urban Indigenous population everyday, are included in the roll-out of the Government’s commitments in the years ahead.”

Some of the commitments to Indigenous Peoples mentioned in the Speech from the Throne, include: moving forward with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; addressing systemic racism; police and criminal justice reform; and, continuing the development of distinctions-based health models. To read the full Speech from the Throne, refer to the Government of Canada’s website.

For media inquiries:

Sara Kelly, Communications Officer
communications@nafc.ca

The NAFC represents over 100 local Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations in every province and territory in Canada (except Prince Edward Island). Friendship Centres are urban Indigenous community hubs that provide a wide range of programs and services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people living in urban, rural, and northern communities. Collectively, Friendship Centres are the largest and most comprehensive urban Indigenous service delivery network in Canada.

MMIWG Inquiry: Summary of Findings for Urban Indigenous Peoples

MMIWG Inquiry: Summary of Findings for Urban Indigenous Peoples

The National Association of Friendship Centres is pleased to release their report entitled, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls Inquiry: Summary of Findings for Urban Indigenous Peoples [PDF 205 KB]. This paper summarizes the 231 Calls to Justice as they apply to the work of the Friendship Centre movement.

Bell Let's Talk

Bell Let's Talk

The National Association of Friendship Centres is excited to begin a partnership with Bell Let's Talk to support the mental health and well-being of urban Indigenous communities.

Bell Lets Talk


Applications Now Open: Investment Readiness Program

IRP/NAFC

The application period for Round 2 of the Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is now open! Find a guide on the application process, and information on eligibility here. If you have any questions that can't be answered by the information provided, please contact Shady Hafez, NAFC IRP coordinator. 

Apply to the Investment Readiness Program by completing the following application. And submitting via e-mail to our IRP coordinator Shady Hafez by August 17th, 2020.

If you are eligible (check requirements here), you are invited to join us for a webinar. The webinar will be hosted on August 5th at 1:00 p.m. EST and is an opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the program. 

Program Overview

The NAFC is one of five Readiness Support Partners mandated by the Government of Canada to deliver funding for the ​IRP. The IRP, through the five funding partners, will distribute $50 million to social purpose organizations (charities, non-profits, social enterprises, for-profits with a social purpose and co-operatives) to help build their capacity to participate in Canada’s growing social finance market. The IRP is also designed to help social purpose organizations (SPOs) prepare for the Government of Canada’s broader investment in ​social finance​ via the ​Social Finance Fund​, a historic new $755 million commitment which was announced in November 2018 and is expected to be launched in 2020.

As a Readiness Support Partner, the NAFC is administering $1.12 million in funding from the Government of Canada that will be made available as non-repayable capital to FCs and PTAs.

NAFC is working closely with the other four national organizations delivering the Government of Canada’s IRP funding. FCs and PTAs may also eligible to receive support from the other funding partners. To learn more about other Readiness Support Partners’ funding programs, criteria, and application periods, please visit their websites:

COVID-19: NAFC Update

COVID-19: NAFC Updates

April 3, 2020

Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations (PTA) across the country have been on the front lines, doing the best we can, with limited resources to support urban Indigenous communities. With the health, safety and wellbeing of our community members and Movement top of mind we think it’s important to be clear about the recent federal government supports announced.

As many of you know, the federal government announced a $305 million Indigenous Community Support Fund (ICF), $15 million of which would be made available to urban organizations through an upcoming call for proposals. There is no guarantee of funding, and no amount has been set aside specifically for Friendship Centres.

Friendship Centres do not yet have COVID-19 response funds. A proposal is currently being developed by the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) for member Friendship Centres and PTAs.

If funds are secured, the NAFC will distribute directly (we are uncertain exactly when funds will flow out)  to Friendship Centres to provide COVID-19 response and community supports as needed and identified by the local urban Indigenous community levels. While some Friendship Centres may opt to provide gift cards to community members, it is not expected that these funds will be distributed directly to individuals.

 

March 16, 2020

Since the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a pandemic, the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) has been doing our best to navigate the response and support our network of over 107 member Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations across the country. We are paying close attention to the daily updates provided from public health and are abiding by all of their recommendations.

With the safety of our community members and Movement in mind; our priority is to support Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations in whatever they need and in whatever decisions they make and we are in constant conversation with them during this time.

In recent days we have provided Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) with a heads up about the challenges Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations may have in meeting deliverables due to the virus response. We have requested that any information they send out to Indigenous organizations, also be provided to us so we can keep the Friendship Centre Movement informed. We have also requested that the federal government ensure Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations have access to the $1-billion fund announced to combat the coronavirus.

We will be following up with different federal departments in the coming days to ensure we are kept top of mind when it comes to providing information and resources so that we are able to assist local Friendship Centres in keeping the urban Indigenous communities informed, safe, and help curb the spread of the virus as much as possible.

At the national office, we have offered work from home options, canceled all upcoming travel, and have taken extra measures to ensure disinfecting. We know that these are not always possible with frontline work, but we want the Friendship Centre Movement to know that even if we may not all be at the office, we are still available.

If you wish to get in contact with us, please reach out via e-mail. You can find our staff directory here.

COVID-19: New Ways of Running Friendship Centre Programming

COVID-19 New Ways of Running Friendship Centre Programming

In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Friendship Centres have proven their commitment to their community members in finding new ways to reach them through social media and technology! Here are a few examples of what we've seen over the past several weeks;

Do you have a program or story you would like to share on how your Friendship Centre is supporting your community during COVID-19? Please send us an e-mail!

COVID-19: NAFC Information and Resources

COVID-19: Information and Resources

Please see our COVID-19 page with information about COVID-19, vaccines, and a list of resources, click here.

 

Supporting Indigenous Cultures campaign

Supporting Indigenous Cultures campaign

The NAFC took part in the national Supporting Indigenous Cultures campaign published by Mediaplanet. To read our article and also learn about the organizations, academic institutions, and partnerships working to support Indigenous peoples in reaching their highest potential and in building strong communities, follow the link.

Partnership with Future of Good

We are excited to announce that we are partnering with Future of Good to publish pieces showcasing the people and innovation behind the Friendship Centre Movement.

If you, your Friendship Centre or Provincial/Territorial Association has a story you'd like to share, please get in touch

Our first piece is coming out this weekend, on International Women's Day.

Make sure you sign up for the special series newsletter!

Gathering Our Voices

From March 16-19, 2020, the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and the Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society (KAFS) are honoured to host Gathering our Voices 2020 on Secwépemc traditional territory.

Every year, Gathering Our Voices brings together up to 2,000 Indigenous youth delegates as well as chaperones, Elders, speakers, guests, entertainment, staff and volunteers. Young Indigenous people from across Canada are invited to join us to explore, to learn and to engage with culture among peers.

The BCAAFC and its members have long recognized the need for Indigenous youth to come together in a supportive and encouraging environment. Thus, Gathering Our Voices was established in order to raise our hands and honour Indigenous youth for their resilience, strength and leadership.

To learn more about Gathering Our Voices, please visit their website.

Mastercard Foundation Contributes $1 Million to FCM COVID-19 Response

1$ million contribution from Mastercard Foundation to help Friendship Centres serve urban Indigenous community

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) and the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre (MNFC) would like to acknowledge the generous contribution of $1 million from the Mastercard Foundation to support Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations (PTAs) across the country as they navigate the COVID-19 response.

“Friendship Centres have been on the front lines, doing the best they can, with limited resources to support urban Indigenous communities from the start of the pandemic and these funds will help them continue that work. We appreciate Mastercard Foundation’s recognition of our unique role in supporting the urban Indigenous community now, and are very grateful for their support,” says NAFC president Christopher Sheppard Buote.

The contribution is part of the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program announced earlier this month. The program aims to assist institutions and communities in Africa and within Indigenous communities in Canada to withstand and respond to the impacts of COVID-19, while strengthening their resilience.

“The financial support from the Mastercard Foundation will go a long way to ensure that we, at the MNFC, are meeting the needs of our community here in Halifax. We are happy to work in partnership with the NAFC to ensure this support reaches across the country,” says MNFC executive director Pam Glode Desrochers.

The Friendship Centre Movement employs over 3,600 people and serves over 1.7 million clients (Indigenous and non) annually. Friendship Centres provide essential services in urban areas (including health care, housing, justice and crisis support, daily meals, cultural programming, etc.) and during this pandemic, are picking up the slack as other local services close their doors; meaning their communities rely on them for consistent public health updates and support during this pandemic.

"There is no blueprint for navigating this crisis. However, the actions we take now will shape the post-COVID-19 world. This crisis is teaching us how interdependent we are as well as how powerful collective action can be,” says Reeta Roy, President and CEO, Mastercard Foundation.

Funding the work of the Friendship Centre Movement is important now, more than ever, so Friendship Centres can continue to support their communities when they need it most. The support from the Mastercard Foundation will help our Centres continue to carry out their essential work.

If you’re able to at this time, please consider donating to your local Friendship Centre.

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