Ottawa, ON May 26, 2017 – The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) welcomes the recent announcement by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) regarding the newly established Urban Programming for Indigenous Peoples (UPIP). The program, which replaces the previous Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS), aims to improve the quality of life for the more than 780,000 Indigenous people living in Canada’s urban areas.
The Friendship Centre Movement has long advocated for stable and predictable funding for Friendship Centres who engage annually in more than 2.3 million points of service contact through 118 Friendship Centres that are located across Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast.
“Yesterday’s announcement is an important first step in ensuring the sustainability of Canada’s largest urban Indigenous service infrastructure,” said Christopher Sheppard, NAFC President.
While the funding falls short in terms of its ability to adequately meet the diverse and unique needs of the urban Indigenous population, the NAFC is encouraged by the commitment and is confident that Centres will benefit from the new program.
“Friendship Centres are experts in their ability to leverage other funds using federal contributions to ensure that they are able to deliver vital culturally-centred and community-driven programs and services,” stated NAFC Executive Director Erin Corston.
“Centres currently on average leverage 8 dollars for every dollar received from INAC,” she added. “Leveraging at this rate requires a great deal of commitment and creativity, and I am confident that Centres will rise to the challenge as they always have.”
The NAFC looks forward to a continued dialogue with INAC and other departments as it works to identify and co-develop opportunities to expand the Government of Canada’s support of the urban Indigenous population. In the meantime, the NAFC through its Board of Directors and National Negotiating Committee will be working closely with INAC to expedite the allocation of funds to Friendship Centres as a means of ensuring the continuity of programs and services.
Erin Corston, Executive Director