Children and Youth
The OFIFC has participated in public policy dialogue regarding children and youth issues and related policy discussions for over thirty years. We unequivocally believe that culture-based approaches are essential in addressing the multiple and complex challenges faced by all Aboriginal children and youth and we will continue to support Friendship Centres through developmental programs that promote education and children's and youth initiatives.
Colonization, assimilation, and policies within the Indian Act have resulted in the unwilling loss of the rights, culture, language, and land of Aboriginal people in Canada throughout the past five centuries. The detrimental effects of this historical trauma are visible at the community and individual levels, therefore, the OFIFC advocates that Aboriginal children learn from teachers who are trauma-informed and culturally competent with respect to local Aboriginal communities, and learn from curriculum that reflects the indigenous history of Ontario. We work to advance these goals at the provincial level while providing Friendship Centres with resources to create a positive educational environment for Friendship Centre communities and schools that are free of racism.
Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women
Friendship Centres across Ontario support Indigenous women, girls and their families and are dedicated to supporting families where they live. Local solutions like The Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Aboriginal Women, developed within Indigenous communities and jointly endorsed by five province-wide Indigenous organizations in Ontario and ten provincial ministries are necessary to ensure that alongside a national focus on ending systemic violence, that local needs and leadership are primary to the success of implementing a variety of strategies to end violence.
Since 2007, the OFIFC has worked collaboratively with the Ontario Government and other Indigenous Organizations to end violence against Indigenous women and girls. We are a commitment to implement Walking Together: Ontario’s Long-Term Strategy to End Violence Against Indigenous Women to ensure that women and girls are continually made safer.
The OFIFC is an advocate for the full integration of Friendship Centres as a part of the decision-making process with local and regional health authorities. For years we have actively requested to the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, an implementation of the Aboriginal Health Council in order to address urban Indigenous health issues on a provincial level. The OFIFC will continue to engage provincial health authorities on important Indigenous health issues such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, nutrition, physical activity and other relevant health concerns to urban Indigenous people.
The OFIFC recognizes the disproportionate impact that mental health and addictions issues are having on the urban Indigenous community. We will continue to support and represent the needs of Friendship Centres and their communities in order to improve the services for urban Indigenous people. We will continue to combat mental health and addictions issues in a proactive manner through the continual development of Friendship Centre priorities and strategic policy documents.
The OFIFC will continue to promote development in all areas of Indigenous health including ensuring availability and access to culturally relevant services.
Housing and Homelessness
The OFIFC has been developing a housing and homelessness strategy with our partners to create policy and documentation that identifies optimal strategies to create a better housing landscape for urban Aboriginal populations across Ontario. A primary purpose for the OFIFC and Friendship Centres is to bring together individuals and organizations working with urban Aboriginal homeless or at-risk people, including community health workers, tenants rights advocates, and shelter and housing workers, as well as activists working on Aboriginal homelessness and affordable housing issues.
The OFIFC advocates the development of policy documentation to target supportive public policy at both the provincial and federal levels to improve urban Indigenous employment. We provide Friendship Centres with the tools and resources to develop, maintain and expand partnerships aimed at providing employment and training opportunities for Friendship Centre community members, allowing urban Indigenous communities to strategically position themselves to take advantage of a rapidly changing labour force.
Urban Indigenous issues are at the core of the work of the OFIFC. The OFIFC advances the priorities of urban Indigenous communities on a number of fronts in the midst of the ever-changing social, economic, political, and service delivery landscape in Ontario. Through advocacy for improved social infrastructure, the recognition of Friendship Centres as community hubs, and meaningful engagement and collaboration with key partners, the OFIFC works with partners in the federal, provincial, and local policy communities to represent and bring forward the voices of Friendship Centres.