For our latest Charitable Choice we have chosen AFCC as our feature this week. The Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary provides education, social and employment services to the the Aboriginal peoples in Calgary.
Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.
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.
What problem does it aim to solve?
Cultural reintegration is at the core of all our programs and services. Many of our people are disconnected from their cultures and experience intergenerational trauma because of colonization, residential schools, the sixties scoop and ongoing racism. AFCC believes our cultural teachings will heal us and we provide a safe and ethical space for our people to begin their healing journey.
When did you start/join it?
I joined AFCC March 5, 2018.
What made you want to get involved?
I was working for a non-Indigenous organization in Edmonton and my spouse was transferred to Calgary. I found out there was an opportunity at AFCC to become the operations manager. The position spoke to me given my background in programming and I am an Indigenous woman who is passionate about assisting our people in healing by providing culturally relevant services to our community.
What was the situation like when you started?
Humble beginnings. AFCC was small consisting of two or three programs.
How has it changed since?
Our CEO, Shane Gauthier, has strategically paved the way for AFCC to expand our services and staff. We opened a second location, iitaohkanitsini’kotsiiyio’p, which is Blackfoot for Place of Conversation (the Indigenous Hub), at Cross Roads Centre. The number of staff tripled in 2018 and we now have programs and services in Language, Mental Health, Health and Wellness, Education and Training, Crime Prevention and Community Reintegration and Addictions and Cultural Support. In September we hosted a sold-out conference for women and two-spirited people called Bring Your Wisdom. It was a huge success and the expectation from community is that the conference is an annual event. We’re proud of our growth and dedication to the community at large. We hold events throughout Aboriginal Awareness Week, we have an annual Stampede pancake breakfast and this year, staff marched in the Pride Parade.
What more needs to be done?
We need to branch out and secure ceremonial land. We are many nations, one family. It would be beautiful if we had land where our people can congregate to practice ceremony. We would also like to do more to support and involve our Seniors. As a non-profit organization, we struggle to secure funding to run and sustain our programs and services. AFCC’s goal is to become less reliant on external sources of funding and become more self-sustaining through social enterprise.
How can our readers help?
AFCC is a registered charity. We welcome food, clothing and monetary donations. People can also apply to be a volunteer. There is a form to become a volunteer on our website at afccalgary.org.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our Eagle Spirit Survivor luncheon is November 6 at Community Wise Resource Centre; 223 12 avenue SW, in honour of our veterans. Contact Alanna at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
We offer training on how to administer Naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose twice a month. The next session is November 8 between 1 and 2pm and November 22, same time, at the Hub. Contact Elle at email@example.com for more information on the training.
Our Bring Your Wisdom women’s circle is meeting November 5 between 1 to 3pm. For more information contact Christina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honouring the Bonds parenting program is meeting November 2 between 11am and 4pm. Contact Melissa at email@example.com for more information.
Finally, we’re holding the annual Children’s Christmas Party from 5pm to 9pm at the Marlborough Community Centre in partnership with Awo Taan Healing Lodge, Aboriginal Futures, USAY and the City of Calgary. To register, contact Brenda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Calgary charity that you love?
I’m going with two. SORCe and Awo Taan Healing Lodge Society. Both are wonderful partners and great champions of ours.
Find out more about AFCC