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5 Year Program For Friendship Centres

SASKATCHEWAN INDIAN      JULY 1973      v03 n07 p03  
Native people who face problems adjusting to city life when they leave their communities will benefit from a five-year program announced June 27 by Secretary of State Gerard Pelletier.

About $3 million will be spent this fiscal year from special funds authorized under a new program for migrating native people.

The program will provide equality of service to all native peoples. It is being established in response to proposals made by native people organizations across the country and follows consultations between the Department of the Secretary of State and these groups over the past year.

The money will be given for the support and development of Native Friendship Centres, and the training of staff at the centres. The Department of the Secretary of State provides grants to 37 centres, mainly operated by the native people themselves, which are located in Ontario, the westernmost provinces and one in Quebec.

The centres offer the native people a variety of services, from personal counselling to information on facilities available to them in the city. Advice can range from explaining how to get a job to indicating the implications of credit purchasing. If an individual requires the services of agencies, the centre will attempt to refer the person to the appropriate one.

In addition, the centres are meeting places for social and cultural activities, and they serve as the focal point for informing the community of the particular problems the newly-arrived native people face.

Native people also work with non-native groups involved in the centres.

The department is authorized to set up four types of funding programs for the next five years:

The Department of the Secretary of State will propose that a new local body, the Native Participation Council, be formed in cities with large native populations.

Through the council, the local friendship centre and native associations could draw on the talents of the community to actively join in assisting migrating native people. It is hoped that representatives of social agencies with programs concerning native people, native associations, friendship centres, federal, provincial and municipal governments and citizens' groups will be prepared to sit on the council.

This new Channel of participation will increase community involvement in helping to solve the extreme social problems of migrating native people in urban centres, and open to the native people services that should be available to them in cities towns.

Federal officials have been in touch with their count parts in the governments Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which currently participate in cost-sharing agreements for friendship centre with the federal government.

Further talks will be he on a federal proposal to replace these agreements with an understanding that the federal government will furnish a basic financial support for the friendship centres an leave program support to the provinces and local group which are familiar with the immediate needs of migrating native people.