ABOUT US

Cold Lake Native Friendship Centre Society

Executive Director
Agnes Gendron

gendron.agnes@gmail.com

Box 1978
5015-55 Street
Cold Lake, AB
T9M 1P4

Phone: 780.594.7526
Fax: 780.594.1599

Email: coldl1@telus.net

Friendship Centers in Canada

The origin of today's "Native Friendship Center"  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 aid 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 and migrating First Nations, Inuit, and Metis people increased so did the number of Friendship Centers. The nature of the programming and services and critical need for more fundraising was quickly amplified.

The Friendship Center movement is unique in the broad spectrum of specialized services it provides to urban Indigenous people across Canada. The provision of services currently offered at Friendship Centers is specialized and may include areas such as: Culture, Family, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Language, Justice, Housing, Health, Education, Employment, Economic Development and a variety of miscellaneous projects ranging from social activities to community building initiatives and special events.

We support SOBER positive living.

Friendship Centre's began to organize into Provincial/Territorial Association’s (PTAs) in the late sixties and a steering committee of Friendship Centres was formed to examine the feasibility of establishing a national body to represent the growing number of Friendship Centres.

Friendship Centers were dependent, on individual volunteers and fund raising events which gathered support through private donations and grants from foundations and governments. Friendship Centers began to evolve and by 1972  services had expanded from the provision of referrals to "front-line" delivery vehicles of social services. This prompted the Government of Canada formally recognized the viability of Friendship Centres and implemented the Migrating Native Peoples Program (MNPP).

The Government of Canada conducted an evaluation of the MNPP in 1976. It revealed the vital role that Friendship Centres played in the communities they served and the wide base of the community support they had established.

In 1983, the NAFC  successfully negotiated the transformation of MNPP into an enriched Native Friendship Centre Program (NFCP). This program, with a five-year mandate, formally recognized "Friendship Centres" as legitimate urban Native institution. 

In 1988, the NFCP became the Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program (AFCP) which secured the status of permanent funding from the Department of the Secretary of State (DSOS).

Friendship Center funding fundamentally changed in 1996, when the administrative responsibility for the 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 Centers and the PTA’s.

Since 2012, The Friendship Centre Movement has expanded to include A total of 119 Friendship Centers across the country. Most centers continue to offer the same essential programs and services with the addition of other services that may include: Culture, Family, Youth, Sports and Recreation, Language, Justice, Housing, Health, Education, Employment, Economic Development and a variety of miscellaneous projects ranging from social activities to community building initiatives and special events (www.NAFC.ca)

History of Cold Lake Native Friendship Center

Our Friendship Center Started as a satellite of the Bonnyville Friendship Center. In 1988, it was incorporated under the Society's Act and in 1999 became the Cold Lake Native Friendship Center, (CLNFC).

The major accomplishments of this Friendship Center starts with its survival as a non-core funded center. We have had to rely on innovative programming, and in recent years our status to a core-funded center has helped increase our effectiveness in the community.

The Cold Lake Native Friendship Center is the only native organization in Cold Lake; a city of 12,000, with a Metis Settlement and several reserves near by. These communities add another 3,000 people of Indigenous decent to our programming needs. Another major aspect of our center is the close proximity to several reserves in Saskatchewan. These people shop and move to the City of Cold Lake attracted by the oil and gas industry.

The first main service we provide is a place for Indigenous and non-indigenous people to meet. We have become a friendly, free coffee serving meeting place for people in the city for the day, or searching for services and places to live. We provide on-site counselling, career guidance, youth program, and weekly soup kitchen. Our staff assists people in need of everything from employment opportunities to emergency facilities that Cold Lake offers. In partnership with all of the provincial offices in the area, we have been able to streamline our clients needs.

We provide free services such as; copying, faxing, resume creation, and form filing such as income taxes. We have formalized the Community Temporary Work Agency that provides opportunities for temporary work for our clients, and provides employers with the man power they need to get jobs done. Our referral services have been taxed over the last couple years. Although a rich province, our client base are from a lower income bracket and need free services in order to accomplish their objectives. As the population grows, our Indigenous client base has been increasing every year.

For many years the Friendship Center has been providing a free "Soup and Bannock Thursday", made possible by the United Way, and local volunteers. We provide this service to all ages and walks of life.

We have produced a book of stories from residential school survivors and helped revive cultural awareness  to schools and businesses.

Alberta Native Friendship Centers Association

The Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) was incorporated on April 28th, 1970. The Alberta Native Friendship Centers Association (ANFCA) is a provincial, charitable organization that represents and provides support to 20 urban Indigenous Friendship Centers located in Alberta.Their Mission:

"To improve the quality of life for Indigenous people in urban areas by supporting self-determined activities that encourage: the development of human and community resources; the improvement of socio-economic and physical conditions; better understanding and relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous citizens; and the enhancement of Indigenous people and the communities they reside in."

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