Friendship Centres provide essential services such as Indigenous-led health clinics and health navigators to assist urban Indigenous people navigate a complex health system. The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) advocates to ensure all urban Indigenous people have access to mental, physical and spiritual health services.

Food Security
Systemic Discrimination

Health Initiatives


Food SecurityFood Security

Friendship Centres offer programming to support access to healthy and affordable food including deliveries of food hampers, traditional medicines, and elder and family check-ins. The NAFC advocates nationally to address persistent food insecurities and put in place long-term solutions.

Past Submissions and Testimonies


Covid - Mission FCFriendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations reached out to urban Indigenous community members that were impacted by reduced programs and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Friendship Centres provide a diversified range of programs and are well equipped to offer support to urban Indigenous communities as they recover from the pandemic.

 Past Submissions and Testimonies

Systemic Discrimination

Justice for JoyceThe NAFC is committed to ending systemic racism in healthcare. The answers to healthcare systems by and for Indigenous people lies within our communities. Friendship Centres help ensure that urban Indigenous peoples can access healthcare services with dignity, without fear and, free from discrimination.

The NAFC has also developed a series of Webinars to ensure that systemic and institutional racism in healthcare services is addressed and that all Canadians have access to quality and non-discriminatory healthcare:

Past Submissions and Testimonies

Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing systemic racism in healthcare

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.
  • 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, NAFC
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.
Follow-up Report
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. 

Urban Indigenous Forum II: Taking action against systemic racism in healthcare

On April 20, 2021, the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) hosted a follow-up forum to discuss how we can take action against systemic racism in Canada’s healthcare system. During the forum, we discussed how urban Indigenous people in Canada have legal and human rights to stay physically and culturally safe, healthy, and well, while accessing healthcare in Canada.


Key topics 
  • an update from the Centre d'amitié autochtone de Lanaudiére and the new Indigenous-led Mirerimowin health clinic
  • roll-out of the SafeSpaces Networks project in BC
  • presentation on the success of the Aboriginal Patient Navigators Program and the need for widespread access to patient navigators coast-to-coast-to-coast
  • first-hand account of the essential work of a Jordan’s Principle Coordinator and how this program can improve access to healthcare for urban Indigenous peoples
  • discussion of legal options available when experiencing discrimination and barriers in access to justice

The following resources were mentioned during the forum:


PowerPoint Presentations

Health Initiatives 

Friendship Centres have provided lifesaving, culturally relevant, and community driven services, including health services, for over 50 years. Friendship Centres deliver holistic services to urban Indigenous people by developing strong, collaborative relationships within their communities and across the country. The role of Friendship Centres in supporting the physical, social, mental, and emotional health of urban First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cannot be overstated.

Past Submissions and Testimonies: