Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary – Tenant Member (August 2018)
Interviewer: Jennah Martens-Forrester, CommunityWise
Interviewee: Tracy Anderson, AFCC
What is the name of your organization?
The Aboriginal Friendship Center of Calgary (AFCC)
Can you summarize what your organization’s main objectives are?
Our services endeavor to include content and activities that are congruent with and promote the values, beliefs, and practices of Aboriginal people. The AFCC is committed to being a culturally competent organization dedicated to serving diverse clients, hiring culturally appropriate staff, and establishing programs that address the needs of different client populations, as is essential to our heritage and the heritage of our non-Aboriginal friends. We celebrate and honor the need to be a culturally competent organization that fosters openness, honesty, integrity and respect. Members of the AFCC live to fulfill the needs of our family, friends and neighbors through the expression of how we live, how we serve, what we value, where we turn to for comfort, and who we turn to when in need.
What are the mission/vision/value(s) that govern your organization?
Mission: The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary is committed to a holistic and traditional approach to the development and provision of services and resources for the Aboriginal peoples of Calgary. We serve as an ethical, community minded organization, respectful of Aboriginal Cultures and Teachings for the benefit of all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples.
Vision: The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary is a community leader in the advocacy of Aboriginal social and cultural services, while serving as a support and community resource to other Aboriginal Service Agencies on the local, provincial and national level. It is our community partnerships with existing agencies which enables the provision of culturally relevant services to the urban Aboriginal peoples of the Calgary Metropolitan Area.
What lead to the creation of your organization?
Friendship Centres began to be established in cities across Canada in the mid-50s as urban centers and the number of Indigenous people living in metropolitan areas grew. They began as community initiatives created to address the specific needs of Aboriginal people migrating into cities, helping people access housing, employment, education, health services and other community supports. What started out as a series of separate grassroots movements has over time grown into the National Friendship Centre Program (NFCP) which today is made up of 119 member centres across Canada.
How has your organization changed over time?
Leadership has changed-skill sets to actualize the vision of AFCC, programming has changed to accommodate and meet the needs of the community, and the number of partnerships have changed to expand our programming in scope and scale. An example of this is the opening of the iitaohkanitsini’kotsiiyio’p Indigenous Hub downtown and the hiring of 7 new staff to support the community in Education, Training, Women’s Wellness, Cultural Supports/Elders, etc. We also have a Community Navigator to help combat the growing Opioid epidemic.
What are some challenges you encounter working/volunteering with the AFCC?
If you were to ask the community and staff, the biggest challenge at the present time would be the location of our main office and access to it being in an industrial area. Utilizing our satellite office at the CommunityWise office also presents problems, as there is a lack of free parking available. However, as of July 5, 2018 we have opened the iitaohkanitsini’kotsiiyio’p Hub, located downtown, across from City Hall on the C-train line. This is a space which all people are welcome and encouraged to visit.
Are there any new projects or initiatives you are working on at the moment?
The Women’s Group, the Aboriginal Language Initiative, the Opioid Response Full-Circle Program, the iitaohkanitsini’kotsiiyio’p Hub (located downtown, iitaohkanitsini’kotsiiyio’p Hub is one of 5 entities at Cross Roads Centre. Alberta Mental Health, Calgary Homeless Foundation, Inn from the Cold, SORCe are the other 4). We also work closely with Inn from the Cold, Calgary Homeless Foundation, and Alberta Health Services.
iitaohkanitsini’kotsiiyio’p Hub Hours & Location:
Address: 312 7 Ave SE, Calgary, AB T2G 0J2
Hours: 9:00am – 4:30 All Week (Closed on all Civic Holidays)
We are currently revamping our Outreach and Cultural Re-connection Initiative, which, at the present time, provides support for Aboriginal homeless individuals and engages individuals on the streets and in shelters. It involves assessing their needs, providing referrals to community services and emergency shelters, help accessing the food bank and provides hampers and bus tickets. Additionally, it helps people access AFCC or other housing programs, our AFCC cultural, education, employment training, women’s wellness, and justice support initiatives, as well as Health Services.
Is your organization hosting any events or campaigns coming up soon that people might be interested in?
Our Program Coordinator, Melissa, sends out our activity calendar of events and programs each month. It will also be posted on our newly revamped website, which will be launching on Friday, August 24th, 2018 at www.afccalgary.org.
What can the community do to best help support your organization and the work you do?
We always need volunteers to help prepare and serve lunch to the community on Wednesdays. Whether it’s cooking, setting up, getting ingredients, etc. we could always use more hands. People can also help by making the effort to learn about the needs of the Aboriginal community in Calgary and to challenge harmful stereotypes on an individual and societal level. Challenging biases and breaking down the stigma that affects our communities goes a long way.
People can also help by promoting our programs and letting people know about the kinds of services we offer, especially the community lunches we host on Wednesdays at CommunityWise.The more people who are aware of our work the more likely it is that those in need of support will be able to connect with us, so spreading the word about what we do and where we are helps a lot.
Where can people go for more information about your organization?
At the present time our website is being revamped with all of our exciting new initiatives, programming, and links to a wealth of community resources and AFCC events. It goes live on Friday, August 24th, so be sure to check it out at: www.afccalgary.org.
In the meantime, we have a Facebook page and Instagram account you can follow (listed below), and anyone can email us to request general information or access to the monthly calendar. The calendar will also be posted on our website. If anyone would like to get in touch they can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Aboriginal Friendship Center (AFCC) directly at 403-270-7379. The front desk administration will be happy to direct all calls to the appropriate program/person.
Address: 101, 427 – 51 Ave SE
Calgary, AB T2H 0M8
Facebook: Aboriginal Friendship Center of Calgary
Instagram: Aboriginal Friendship Center of Calgary