The Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres (OFIFC) officially ratified two Friendship Centres as new members of the OFIFC at their Annual General Meeting in Ottawa this weekend.
The two new centres – Enji Maawinjidiyaang Indigenous Friendship Centre, located in Elliot Lake, and the Kingston Native Centre and Language Nest (KNCLN)– bring the total number of Friendship Centres serving Urban Indigenous communities in Ontario to 31.
Both organizations will now be eligible to receive funding to deliver OFIFC programs.
Enji Maawinjiidiyaang is a partnership with Mamaweswen, The North Shore Tribal Council (NTSC), which currently delivers social services on-reserve to seven First Nations along the north shore of Lake Huron. The creation of this Friendship Centre is a first-of-its-kind partnership between the OFIFC and First Nations to deliver services to their members in urban communities.
Kingston Native Centre and Language Nest (KNCLN)
Known until now as the Kingston Indigenous Language Nest (KILN), the Kingston Native Centre and Language Nest (KNCLN) began as a grassroots organization to protect and enhance access to Indigenous languages. They have provided language and land-based services in Kingston for nine years and have seen the growing need for Indigenous-led services in their community. As a response to that need, becoming a Friendship Centre will make KNCLN eligible to deliver a wide range of OFIFC programs in social programming, education, health, justice and more
“Friendship Centres were born out of a movement more than half a century ago to respond to the needs of Indigenous people living in urban centres. Our movement is strong and growing, and through these two new centres, Urban Indigenous people in Elliot Lake and Kingston will now have access to culture-based services in their communities. We look forward to seeing these two new centres develop and grow over the coming years.”
- Armand Jourdain, OFIFC President.
“It is a dream come true for us as we officially open the doors of Enji Maawinjidiyaang. Joining the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres means we will be able to deliver new and greatly needed programs to our off-reserve relatives in Elliot Lake and the surrounding area. We are excited to welcome our people into the space.”
- Elizabeth Richer, Enji Maawinjidiyaang
“Today is a full-circle moment for our organization. Kingston Native Centre and Language Nest, previously KILN, was born out of the sunset of the previous Friendship Centre in Kingston that unfortunately closed in 2013. Over time, the founders, volunteers and Language Warriors worked hard in collaboration with other community partners to provide language and land-based cultural programming to meet the growing needs of this large and diverse community. As a direct response to clearly identified need for expanded services, today, we are starting a new day as part of the OFIFC Family and we are honoured to have been welcomed with open arms. We are excited to be able to maintain Indigenous language revitalization as a core programming focus while we explore new programs under the support of OFIFC to give our beautiful community all they deserve and have long missed.”
- Constance Carriere-Prill, Kingston Native Centre and Language Nest