British Columbia’s Aboriginal friendship centres have access to reliable, dedicated funding for the first time thanks to Budget 2018, ensuring their critical services for urban Indigenous peoples into the future.
“For the first time ever, friendship centres will have stable funding, thanks to this investment that is more than tripling previous financial support,” said Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Scott Fraser. “Every friendship centre is unique in serving the needs of communities at a local level, but they all play a vital role supporting urban Indigenous peoples, many of whom live far from their home communities.”
An additional $6.45 million will be allocated by the Province over the next three years, providing a significant increase in annual funding for each of B.C.’s 25 Aboriginal friendship centres. This includes $100,000 more per year to support the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres operations.
“Indigenous peoples living in urban areas have been left out when we talk about the needs of Indigenous communities,” said Melanie Mark, MLA for Vancouver-Mount Pleasant. “This new dedicated funding will allow for longer-term planning, instead of short-term solutions, to the complex and pressing issues facing urban Indigenous peoples in British Columbia. We’re continuing to advance on our commitment of reconciliation, and improve the delivery of services that thousands of Indigenous peoples count on. The Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre has been a beacon of hope for decades. With today’s announcement they will continue to shine.”
Friendship centres play a central role in supporting primarily Indigenous peoples living in urban areas – who may face complex social challenges rooted in colonization and intergenerational trauma. The centres provide programs and services in the areas of health care, employment, skills training and education, as well as supports for children and families, Elders and youth.
“Friendship centres have been providing critical services to Indigenous families in communities throughout the province for the past 50-60 years,” said Annette Morgan, B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) president. “We are extremely pleased that the Province has recognized our role in these communities and is providing this resourcing, so we can continue this important work and ensure the sustainability of the friendship centre movement for years to come.”
The BCAAFC will use its funding to strengthen and improve the way friendship centres deliver programs and services by improving infrastructure, such as IT-system updates and human-resource development through staff training and recruitment. The BCAAFC will also seek to increase cultural activities within friendship centre training programs, and leverage the funding to pursue economic development opportunities.
The valuable services and training that B.C.’s friendship centres deliver, as well as the cultural connections they support for Indigenous peoples living away from home, help to support reconciliation and to address the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
Reconciliation is a cross-government priority. B.C. Budget 2018 made significant investments to address serious and pressing issues facing Indigenous peoples, as well as taking steps toward long-term transformation of B.C.’s relationship with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.
- The British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) provides services to 78% of B.C.’s Indigenous peoples who live off-reserve and in urban settings.
- Approximately 50% of B.C. First Nations members live away from home (off-reserve).
- The Province is investing more than $250 million over the next three years on Indigenous priorities and reconciliation, including housing, child care, language revitalization, mental-health and addictions supports, reducing poverty, improving access to justice and revitalizing the environmental assessment process.
BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres: http://www.bcaafc.com/
National Association of Friendship Centres: http://nafc.ca/en/
Budget 2018: http://bcbudget.ca