If you are an Indigenous youth who wants to connect to your culture, Friendship Centres provide programs and services specifically designed for you. The Friendship Centre movement is built on community support, trust, strong leadership, tradition and faith and is mandated to improve the quality of life for Indigenous people. The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is the umbrella for 25 Friendship Centres throughout the Province of British Columbia. Friendship Centres provide services to Indigenous people living in urban settings.
What do Friendship Centres do?
They provide a variety of programs and services that respond to the needs of the areas they serve. Each of the 25 centres across BC offer services and programs for youth that can include health, housing, employment, and cultural activities. Most centres offer:
- recreation programs and healthy living services
- leadership training
- youth projects
- ending violence support
- Elder support
- family support
- help to apply for Indigenous internships and fellowships
- financial grants to other Indigenous serving organizations
How do Friendship Centres serve Indigenous youth?
Friendship Centres create safety nets and a safe place for Indigenous youth to interact and hang out. They are also a great place to find culturally appropriate services for Indigenous youth. Although each Friendship Centre offers different programs and services, many host pow wows, dancing, and recreational sports. They also offer a connection to healthy living through iSPARC - Indigenous Sports, Physical Activity and Recreation Council.
The BCAAFC offers leadership opportunities for youth aged 14 to 24 through a Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council (PAYC). This group strives to:
- represent youth voices at a provincial level
- implement province-wide initiatives to benefit Aboriginal youth
- provide a network of communication in which youth can learn about other friendship centres, both provincially and nationally, and the Friendship centre movement as a whole
- encourage and support BC Friendship Centres to develop strong local youth councils and
- act as a liaison between Friendship Centre youth councils, PAYC, and the BCAAFC Board of Directors.
Some other Friendship Centre initiatives
New Journeys is an online platform that provides opportunities to learn and share stories about Indigenous heritage. New Journeys is a one-stop mobile and online platform that features helpful resources, services, and information for urban Indigenous youth, young families and others to connect with their community.
Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network is a research network for Aboriginal communities, policy makers and academics. The network engages in community driven research with the goal of contributing to a better quality of life for urban Aboriginal people. The network also provides opportunities for funding.
Find the Friendship Centre in your community
List of all BC Friendship Centres