Friendship Centre Programs and Initiative’s that address Violence Against Aboriginal Women and Girls: A Summary

The Friendship Centre Movement’s goal is to improve the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples in an urban environment by supporting self-determined activities which encourage equal access to, and participation in, Canadian Society; and which respect and strengthen the increasing emphasis on Aboriginal cultural distinctiveness. All the Friendship Centre programs, services, resources and initiatives are focused on creating healthier communities. A healthy community is a violence free community and Friendship Centres play a lead role in providing relevant services to support and promote Aboriginal peoples to make healthy life decisions and assist them in various life transitions.

In 2011/12 Friendship Centres across Canada delivered over 1,490 programs and services to approximately 700,000 urban Aboriginal people. Nearly 60% of Aboriginal peoples live in urban areas and the Aboriginal population is growing at a faster rate than the non-Aboriginal population. Friendship Centres are a highly effective resource for many Aboriginal people, achieving 2.3 million points of contact nationwide annually. Friendship Centre programs range on a variety of topics such as healthy eating, cultural activities, physical activities, family activities, parenting, life skills, financial literacy, employment, women’s and men’s groups, Elder activities, healthy relationship programs, healing programs and much more!

In 2009, the NAFC conducted an organization-wide study on poverty and social exclusion. The key messages from this study state that poverty and social exclusion among the urban Aboriginal population in Canada are very serious issues that impact thousands of children, youth, and families in their daily lives. The impacts of poverty and social exclusion are having devastating impacts on health, social education, economic well-being, and the future lives of urban Aboriginal people in Canada. It is well documented that poverty and social exclusion are linked to violence. Sadly, Aboriginal women and girls are among the most vulnerable in Canadian society. For those of us who provide services to them we know that there are serious systemic barriers and challenges that our communities face. We know that historical trauma, social exclusion and systemic racism only begin to paint a picture of vulnerable communities and the obstacles they face in achieving safety. The Friendship Centre Movement sees all programs that support and promote healthy life decisions are addressing the issue of violence.

Friendship Centres throughout Canada have been working at the community, regional and national level focusing attention on violence against Aboriginal women by working with partners and other organizations to achieve the goal or reducing and eliminating violence that exists at unacceptable levels. Aboriginal women are 3.5 times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to be victims of violence.

Full Summary:

NAFC VAAWG – March 2014

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