Indigenous friendship centres, service providers scramble to provide programming amid COVID-19 shutdown – APTN News

March 23, 2020

Indigenous friendship and support centres in Ottawa are cancelling non-essential services and programs while scrambling to find ways to serve their clients as the city braces for the COVID-19 pandemic to hit at-risk people who may be on the street, homeless or vulnerable in other ways.

“Many of the clients are certainly facing a lot of hardships now that our services are being impacted,” said Amy Nahwegahbow, president at the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.

“I think that a lot are stressed, fearful. We’re getting a lot of calls. Although what we’re seeing too is communities are pulling together and they’re trying to keep positive.”

Odawa’s food bank and daycare are closed. Their drop-in centre for those who may be homeless, known as 510 Rideau, is closed. Childcare service providers aren’t working and so aren’t being paid. Duties are being shuffled to keep staff employed and many are working from home.

Odawa is based out of an old high school, Nahwegahbow said, which means the building is still under the jurisdiction of the local school board.

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