Founded in 1971, the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) works to support, advocate for, and build the capacity of member Friendship Centres across Ontario.
Emerging from a nationwide, grassroots movement dating back to the 1950s, Friendship Centres are community hubs where Indigenous people living in towns, cities, and urban centres can access culturally based and culturally appropriate programs and services every day.
The OFIFC is governed by a Board of Directors with representatives from member Friendship Centres. The Board of Directors also includes youth representatives from the four geographic regions, two Elders to ensure work is culture-based, and a Senator to support institutional memory.
Miigwetch, Marci, Niá:wen, Merci, Thank you
The Declaration of Mutual Commitment and Friendship is a joint initiative between the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC). Developed through the leadership of municipalities and Friendship Centres, this Declaration is a living document and aims to provide a framework for collaboration between cities and towns and urban Indigenous communities.
The Friendship Centre Movement (FCM) is the country’s most significant urban Indigenous service delivery infrastructure. Friendship Centres are not-for-profit and charity corporations that are mandated to serve the needs of urban Indigenous people by providing culturally appropriate services in urban communities. Friendship Centres are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors consisting of elected members. They are membership driven organizations in urban communities that serve all urban Indigenous people, regardless of status.
There are Friendship Centres in towns and cities across Ontario. The OFIFC has put a map together to help you find the Friendship Centre closest to you.
Public policy shapes our entire lives. Policy decisions made by governments affect whether we have clean air and water, what kind of services we can access, whether Indigenous curriculum is taught in schools and whether people can afford to live in our communities.
Our advocacy centres on the rights of urban Indigenous children and youth to culture-based programs and services that support them to thrive.
Friendship Centres are critical sites of Indigenous knowledge and language transmission. They connect children, youth and adult learners.
The OFIFC works to foster coordinated, strategic and culturally competent approaches.
Advocating for improved access to, and determination over, health, mental health and traditional health practices for urban Indigenous communities.
Housing is a human right and Friendship Centres have a long history of supporting urban Indigenous families to secure safe and affordable housing.
Friendship Centres across Ontario respond to the immediate and long-term needs of urban Indigenous communities through a variety of justice-related programming.
The OFIFC works with key partners to support Friendship Centres in building relationships and partnerships at the local governance level.
The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres designs dozens of programs to address the needs of urban Indigenous communities across the province.OFIFC programs are delivered by Friendship Centres and other local organizations, creating the largest urban Indigenous program and service delivery network in Ontario. Programs are culturally relevant, trauma informed and delivered in safe and accessible environments. Friendship Centres are Indigenous community hubs that provide a place for Indigenous people to gather and access a range of services including Children and Youth, Education, Employment, Health, Healing and Wellness, Homelessness and Justice programming.
Our Children & Youth Programs Include: Akwe:go, Wasa-Nabin, Student Nutrition Program, Children’s Mental Health Program, Healthy Babies, Healthy Children Program, Youth Culture Camps, Youth Life Promotion, and the Urban Aboriginal Healthy Kids Program.
Our Education & Employment Programs Include: Alternative Secondary School Program, Apatisiwin, and the Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound (UIHB).
Our Ending Violence program includes: Children Who Witness Violence, Cultural Resource Coordinator, Healing and Wellness Coordinator Program, and Kizhaay Anishinaabe Niin – I am a Kind Man.
Our Health & Wellness Programs Include: Aboriginal Alcohol and Drug Worker Program, Children’s Mental Health Program, Health Outreach Worker Program, Healing and Wellness Coordinator Program, Indigenous Mental Health and Wellness Program, Life Long Care Program, and the Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program (Healthy Living).
Our Homelessness & Housing Programs Include: Reaching Home Program, and Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound (UIHB).
Our Justice Programs Include: Indigenous Courtwork Program (ICWP), Criminal Courtworkers, Family Courtworkers, and the Indigenous Community Justice Program (ICJP).
Our Urban Programming For Indigenous People Programs Include: Urban Programming for Indigenous Peoples, UPIP – Organizational Capacity, UPIP – Programs and Services, and the Urban Indigenous Homeward Bound (UIHB).
The OFIFC designs and delivers culture-based education and training opportunities to support the learning needs of Friendship Centre staff, Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous communities.
This training is available to organizations, governments, and businesses. The training enables participants to build skills, knowledge, attitudes and values essential to fostering positive and productive relationships with Indigenous people.
Kizhaay- I am a Kind Man is an OFIFC program offered in Friendship Centres and other delivery sites. The program has a dedicated campaign and training components that teach men to strengthen their cultural values and promote wellness and resiliency in their communities.
The Kanawayhitowin campaign includes adult and youth training supports as well as community initiative supports for Friendship Centres. The campaign focuses on ending of violence against Indigenous women by raising awareness of the signs of abuse in communities.
The MSW-ITR program partners with University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, and the Middelton-Moz Institute.
Our research is community-driven, not community-based or community-placed. This means communities have control. They determine all research conduct, establish research priorities, choose methodologies and decide how the findings are used. We collaborate with communities and create trauma-informed spaces for all members, including youth, Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers to contribute safely to research activities. They’re our co-researchers. All research is action-oriented and conducted with the explicit intention of improving urban Indigenous people’s quality of life. It is never value-neutral.
Our Featured Research: Ganohonyohk (Giving Thanks): Indigenous Prosperity, Indigenous Knowledge Transfer in Urban Aboriginal Communities, Tsi:iakwanakere – Building a Community-Based Sense of Home, Ceremony and Transitions.
Indigenous communities have utilized evaluation practices to shape community development over many generations (USAI Evaluation Path, 2019). In the past, we collaborated with external consultants to look at the impacts of the programs offered in Friendship Centres.
Our ethics application package is based on the USAI Research Framework. As such, it is vital that each application demonstrates that the proposed project adheres to community-driven research as well as the USAI principles (Utility, Self-voicing, Access, and Inter-relationality).
The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) recognizes that in many Indigenous cultures, youth and young people had specific roles and responsibilities to fulfill within the community. In many traditional teaching’s youth are to be provided with a sense of belonging and an identity based on ‘everyday good living’. The dismantling of traditional Indigenous societies through colonization, Indian Residential Schools and child welfare practices resulted in the consistent erosion of traditional knowledge transfer to youth.
The OFIFC Indigenous Youth Council (OFIFC – IYC) progressively works to increase youth involvement within Friendship Centres. The OFIFC – IYC provides youth representation at a provincial level, supports the needs and growth of urban Indigenous youth, and works to create opportunities for youth to succeed. Well also maintaining strong relationships with Elders, traditional people, mentors, each other, and the local communities.
Throughout the year Youth are provided many opportunities through both the IYC and OFIFC, from research projects, youth policy development, and a wide range of conferences and workshops. The OFIFC strives to include Youth in strategic planning, program development and Urban Indigenous initiatives.
The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres youth Initiative has collected multiple resources to address the needs of urban Indigenous youth across the province.
Association of Municipalities of Ontario
Counselling Foundation of Canada
Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto
George Brown College
Human Rights Legal Support Centre
Law Foundation of Ontario
Métis Nation of Ontario
Ministry of Canadian Heritage & Multiculturalism
National Film Board
Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services