Charitable Choices: The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary

We spoke with Krista White of the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary about everything they do to support the Aboriginal peoples within the Calgary Metropolitan area. If you are looking to support a charitable organization in our city, be sure to consider the AFCC.

Tell us about your non-profit

The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary is a non-profit organization with a mandate to provide social, cultural, education and employment services to the Aboriginal peoples within the Calgary Metropolitan area. AFCC plays a regular and significant role in the daily lives of our members in many ways: providing care for our children, our elderly, our in need and our homeless; enabling access to cultural and spiritual care; offering referrals for suitable housing, food, clothing, pursuit of education, skill development and training; and building a resourceful Aboriginal community. AFCC’s non-profit family is an expression of how we live, what we value, where we turn for comfort and where we turn when in need.

What problem does it aim to solve?

The AFCC works hard to strive in advocating and addressing the socio-economic factors in areas of housing, employment, health, and justice inequities facing our most vulnerable Indigenous populations in the city of Calgary and surrounding communities. Some of the barriers and challenges we lack is the infrastucture of a recreational area for sports and leisure activities for our community members we serve, a one stop agency to meet one of the fastest growing populations we serve.

When did you start/join it?

As a youth, I was actively involved and participated in many of their cultural and recreational sports programming activities. In 2018/2019, I was hired with a couple contract position as a Cultural Coordinator, and Mental Health Support Worker, before accepting a fulltime position as a Community Support Worker and Media Spokesperson and Public Relations last year.

What made you want to get involved?

Throughout my employment career, I’ve worked in various roles in the public school system, and returned back to school to further advance my education. The combined knowledge and experiences were a good fit in applying for these roles, as well as giving back to our communities. The AFCC has opened the doors of wonderful opportunities in support of improved outcomes, achievement of goals, and creating a cultural safe and diversified organization for staff and the community members we serve.

What was the situation like when you started?

The AFCC was located in a small building in an isolated community, therefore, public transportation was one of the barriers our community members experienced in accessing programming. AFCC, in partnership with other agencies, had a huge office space in the downtown location was easily accessible, however, separate locations also created some challenges. Our clientele grew with additional programming serving delivery to community members with hiring of additional staff to meet the growing demands in utilizing the combined efforts, strength, knowledge, and expertise with the wealth of the skills and experiences of the AFCC administrative, and fulltime staff, and contract workers.

How has it changed there?

Today, our community members has increased significantly due to the pandemic in meeting the demands in areas of; food security, mental health supports, cultural supports, housing supports, and other community support services. Also, since the pandemic, we had to be very creative in our approach in reaching out to our community members via zoom, email and phone referrals, etc. We have also invested in building stronger partnerships to meeting the diverse needs of the community.

What more needs to be done?

When the pandemic hit and the city was in a lockdown. We went into work mode in creating emergency food hampers, letter writing requesting for financial support in our efforts. It was about a month after lockdown, the AFCC COVID-19 task force was created with partnering agencies. Creating Cultural awareness with the many challenges Indigenous peoples continually face such as systemic racism, discrimination in the health, justice, and other health determinants facing many Indigenous people not only in the city of Calgary, but across the country. We continually advocating for our most vulnerable we serve by breaking down this vicious cycle of poverty, and other socio-economic factors that contribute to various variables at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels of governing policies not aligned and work against Indigenous peoples in all of our communities and more changes needs to be done….

How can our readers help?

Creating cultural awareness, donating your time to a local charity, supporting Indigenous entrepreneurs, learning the rich cultural heritage and histories of Indigenous peoples, and educating on the issues facing Indigenous peoples. Does your organization recognize the 94 Calls to Action, and United Declaration of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and the Indian Act that was created that severely disrupted our way of life and will continually work hard on repairing the generational traumas of cultural genocide experienced by our ancestors, grandparents, and our parents, and the ripple effects of the intergenerational traumas still prevalent in many of our communities today.

Do you have any events coming up?

We provide monthly calendar of events in our social media. Also, AFCC has partnered with various organization in the vaccine rollout for our Indigenous community members provided in a safe, caring and cultural atmosphere. We also provide virtual cultural programming with elder storytelling, instruction of the Cree and Blackfoot languages, Honoring the Bonds, a land based traditional and cultural teachings, spiritual care and wellness, virtual Rise Up Elder/Youth Presentation, Rent Smart, and other upcoming exciting programs to meet the health and wellbeing of our community members.

Where can we follow you?

We have a AFCC website, also you can follow us on our Facebook and Instagram social media and have many followers. We share special announcements and events, monthly calendars, etc., as well as sharing our partnering agencies events, community events.

Pay it forward. What is an awesome local charity that you love?

The one locale charity that I love is the Calgary Food Bank that I had accessed as a young struggling parent for my family when moving into the urban community many years ago.