TORONTO – As a key component of Walking Together – Ontario’s Long Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) is pleased to announce the province has committed $6.3 million over 3 years to fund 28 Friendship Centres and two satellite sites with Cultural Resource Coordinators. Cultural Resource Coordinators will provide increased access to culture and culture based program and service delivery. They are specifically targeted to improve identity and foster healthy relationships for urban Indigenous children, youth and families.
Friendship Centres See Great Need
As identified by Friendship Centres, the need is great for a consistent approach and access to culture and cultural knowledge for those who use its services. Friendship Centres often rely on traditional resource people and/or Elders from their respective communities, or in some cases beyond, due to lack of access to credible resource people. While these resource people remain vital to Friendship Centres they are often outsourced and not always available or accessible. A dedicated Cultural Resource Coordinator within Friendship Centres will begin to fill a cultural gap and provide regular assistance for urban Indigenous children, youth and families involved in Friendship Centre programming.
By providing direct counselling, support, teaching and ceremonies, the position will also offer preventative services. The Cultural Resource Coordinator, through a range of approaches, will provide activities which will foster a strong sense of well-being and positive Indigenous identity. Children and youth who are grounded in culture and who have positive associations with Indigenous identity are far more likely to transition into adulthood confident, capable and prepared. Connectedness to culture for children and youth is a critical aspect of development and wholistic well-being. The Cultural Resource Coordinator will play a significant role in building and maintaining the cultural foundations urban Indigenous children, youth and families require to achieve healthier outcomes.
‘For years we have tried to allocate resources for cultural services asked of us from the community. We are grateful the province recognises this resource as a necessary step in promoting family well-being,’ says Sylvia Maracle, Executive Director, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres.