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BC Friendship Centres partner with TELUS to provide mobile phones to Indigenous women and girls to support access to anti-violence services

PDF of Media Release

October 4, 2021 – Friendship Centre organizations across BC will be distributing mobile phones to Indigenous women and girls who otherwise would not have access to cellular communication. Increasing accessibility to mobile communication is one part of BC Friendship Centres’ strategy to prevent violence against Indigenous women and girls and improve their safety. The phones will come with one year of nationwide talk & text + data from TELUS, made possible through the TELUS Mobility for Good program.
The distribution of mobile phones follows federal and provincial investments to complete cellular coverage along Highway 16, which is known as the ‘Highway of Tears’ because it has been the location of many missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. Completing cellular coverage along Highway 16 was a recommendation from The Highway of Tears Symposium Report (2006) and National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (2019).
“Reliable cellular communication will help ensure Indigenous women and girls have access to services to support their safety and wellbeing,” said Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), “this is an important step towards increasing our capacity to provide culturally safe and inclusive anti-violence services.”
Friendship Centres are Indigenous-led social service organizations that have been providing services by and for Indigenous people for over 60 years. Anti-violence programs and services have been a priority in BC Friendship Centres, especially those in Northern BC with proximity to the Highway of Tears.
Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or go missing than non-Indigenous women, a number that is even higher for Indigenous women and girls in the North (National Inquiry, 2019). Evidence shows that services designed, developed and delivered by Indigenous people are successful in meeting the needs of Indigenous clients; yet, historically, and still today, the majority of services provided in BC for Indigenous women fleeing violence are by mainstream organizations.
“This commitment from TELUS reflects an understanding for the importance of Indigenous specific services being led by Indigenous people,” said Varley, “We are grateful for this partnership and the positive impact it will have on Indigenous women and girls, and their communities, who are accessing Indigenous anti-violence services to support their security and wellbeing.”
The majority of phones will be distributed in locations within BC identified as high risk for human trafficking and violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Contact:

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
Media Contact: Ricki-Lee Jewell
(M) 778-966-8571 (Email) communications@bcaafc.com
TELUS
Media Contact: Lena Chen
(Email) lena.chen@telus.com  

About BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres – https://bcaafc.com/

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is the umbrella organization for the 25 Friendship Centres located throughout the province. BC Friendship Centres are not-for-profit, Indigenous-led, social service organizations that develop and deliver accessible programs and services to support Indigenous people living in urban areas and away from home to achieve their vision of health, wellness and prosperity. The BC Provincial Government estimates approximately 85% of Indigenous people in BC live off reserve or in urban areas. Collectively, BC Friendship Centres employ over 1,200 people and have over 600 community partnerships—making them the largest Indigenous service delivery infrastructure in the province. The BCAAFC works with Friendship Centres, partner organizations, and government institutions to establish best practices for Indigenous program delivery and advocate for equitable resource allocation for services by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.

About TELUS –  https://www.telus.com/en/social-impact/connecting-canada/mobility-for-good

TELUS (TSX: T, NYSE: TU) is a dynamic, world-leading communications technology company with $16 billion in annual revenue and 16 million customer connections spanning wireless, data, IP, voice, television, entertainment, video, and security. We leverage our global-leading technology and compassion to enable remarkable human outcomes. Our longstanding commitment to putting our customers first fuels every aspect of our business, making us a distinct leader in customer service excellence and loyalty. In 2020, TELUS was recognized as having the fastest wireless network in the world, reinforcing our commitment to provide Canadians with access to superior technology that connects us to the people, resources and information that make our lives better. TELUS Health is Canada’s leader in digital health technology, improving access to health and wellness services and revolutionizing the flow of health information across the continuum of care. TELUS Agriculture provides innovative digital solutions throughout the agriculture value chain, supporting better food outcomes from improved agri-business data insights and processes. TELUS International (TSX and NYSE: TIXT) is a leading digital customer experience innovator that delivers next-generation AI and content management solutions for global brands across the technology and games, ecommerce and FinTech, communications and media, healthcare, travel and hospitality sectors. TELUS and TELUS International operate in 25+ countries around the world. Together, let’s make the future friendly. 
Driven by our passionate social purpose to connect all citizens for good, our deeply meaningful and enduring philosophy to give where we live has inspired TELUS, our team members and retirees to contribute more than $820 million and 1.6 million days of service since 2000. This unprecedented generosity and unparalleled volunteerism have made TELUS the most giving company in the world.
For more information about TELUS, please visit telus.com, follow us @TELUSNews on Twitter and @Darren_Entwistle on Instagram.
Photo: Leaders at the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), TELUS, and Prince George Native Friendship Centre commemorate the new partnership between BC Friendship Centres and the TELUS Mobility for Good program at the BCAAFC Annual Membership Meeting (September 23, 2021).
Pictured (left to right): Leslie Varley, Executive Director at the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), Tony Geheran, Executive Vice President & Chief Customer Officer at TELUS, Barbara Ward-Burkitt, Executive Director at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre, Marissa Nobauer, Manager of Reconciliation Strategy and Indigenous Connectivity at TELUS, and Geoff Rankin, Director of Policy at the BCAAFC.

Learn more:

Highway of Tears Symposium Recommendations Report: A collective voice for the victims who have been silenced (Lheidli T’enneth First Nation, Carrier Sekani Family Services, Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, Prince George Native Friendship Centre, Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment & Training Association, June 16, 2006)
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (United Nations, 2007)
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015)  
Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry, 2019)
Complete cellular connectivity coming to ‘Highway of Tears’ (Ministry of Citizens’ Services, April 7, 2021)
2021 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People National Action Plan: Ending Violence Against Indigenous Women, Girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People (MMIWG National Action Plan Core Working Group, June 3, 2021)
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BCAAFC Board of Directors

Newly Elected BCAAFC Board Members as of September 25, 2021:

Dr. Sharon McIvor, President (Conayt Friendship Society)
Elijah Mack, Vice President (Conayt Friendship Society)
Calvin Albright, Secretary/Treasurer (Kermode Friendship Society)
Diana Charlie, Youth Representative (Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre Society)
Matthew Baran, Director (Ooknakane Friendship Centre)
Fabian Alexis, Director (North Okanagan Friendship Centre Society)
Tami Omeasoo, Director (Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society)
Carol Camille, Director (Lillooet Friendship Centre Society)
Cyndi Stevens, BC Representative on the NAFC Board (Port Alberni Friendship Center)
Thank you to the outgoing Board members, Joanne Mills (Treasurer), Cerelina Willie (Director), Kerry Chelsea (Director), and to Patricia Wilson (BC Representative on the NAFC Board), for sharing their guidance, knowledge and expertise.
Gratitude to the new and continuing Board members, Elijah Mack (continuing Vice President), Carol Camille (continuing Director), Fabian Alexis (continuing Director), Tami Omeasoo (continuing Director), Rosanna McGregor (Director), and to Cyndi Stevens (BC Representative on the NAFC Board).
We look forward to what we will accomplish together in this next term.
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Statement in Support of Healthcare Workers and Patients Accessing Care

PDF of Statement
September 13, 2021 – The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) stands in solidarity with healthcare workers, and patients accessing care.
BCAAFC believes in our inherent collective responsibility to take care of one another. We ask that those choosing to protest outside hospitals fully consider the harmful impacts of their actions on those providing care during a global pandemic, as well as on patients accessing care and their families.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have sought scientific advice from the Provincial Health Office, public health leaders, and medical health experts to maintain our understanding of how best to protect our communities. We urge others to seek information on COVID-19 vaccination from trusted science-based sources.
We raise our hands in high respect and appreciation for the healthcare workers who give their time and energy to provide care to others, especially through times of intense pressure and loss. We extend our love and support to those in need of care, and their families, and to those who have lost loves ones, community members, and knowledge keepers due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  
Thank you to the Friendship Centre staff, healthcare workers, partners and volunteers who have helped to make COVID-19 vaccination clinics within BC Friendship Centres a safe and welcoming space for community members. We need as many people as possible fully vaccinated to best protect our Elders, knowledge keepers, children, families, and neighbours.
Resources on COVID-19 and Vaccination:  
How to get vaccinated for COVID-19 (Government of BC)
COVID-19 Support Resources (BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres)
COVID-19 Vaccine (First Nations Health Authority)
In solidarity with healthcare workers and patients accessing care, 
Leslie Varley
Executive Director
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British Columbia Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act Engagement Survey

Download the Survey Poster
The purpose of this research project is to gather community feedback regarding the consultation process on the British Columbia Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (BC DRIPA).
This research project is being conducted by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) Policy Unit.
Answers to this survey will be used to formulate a larger feedback report on the overall BC DRIPA consultation process to be shared with the provincial government, sector partners, and Indigenous communities.
You are invited to participate in this research project because you are:
– an Indigenous person, i.e. First Nation (Status or Non-Status), Métis, Inuit;
– an individual (Indigenous or non-Indigenous) who accesses services at a Friendship Centre;
– an individual who has a vested interest in the Friendship Centre movement;
– an individual who is currently or was previously employed by or has volunteered with a Friendship Centre, or;
– an individual interested in the BC DRIPA consultation process.

The survey closes on November 30, 2021.

***Please review the information below before completing the survey. The survey link will open in a separate window, so you can refer back to this page.***

Click Here To Begin The Survey

Upon completing the short or full survey you will have the opportunity to enter your email through a separate form for a chance to win gift cards (more information below).
Thank you for your time and energy participating in the survey.

Consent and Privacy

By participating in the survey, you are consenting to the information you provide being used in the following ways:
– To formulate a larger feedback report on the overall consultation process with respect to BC DRIPA, which will be provided to provincial government, sector partners, and Indigenous communities.
– To inform future research projects.
This information will not be used in a way that personally identifies you.
If you have any questions about the research project, please contact policyteam@bcaafc.com.

Definitions and Acronyms

BC DRIPA – The BC government passed Bill 41: The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (DRIPA) into law on November 28, 2019. DRIPA establishes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) as the Province’s framework for reconciliation, as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action.
Disenfranchised – An Indigenous person who has lost their Indian Status and has therefore been deprived of their inherent constitutional rights enshrined by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, which provides constitutional protection to the Indigenous Peoples in what is now known as Canada.
Indigenous Governing Body – A council, government or other entity that is authorized to act on behalf of an Indigenous group, community or people that holds rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (e.g. Band Councils, Tribal authorities).
Indigenous Person – “Indigenous” describes any group of people native to a specific region since time immemorial. However, questions regarding Indigenous identity in this survey are specific to Indigenous Peoples recognized by the Canadian government (First Nations (Status or Non-status), Inuit, and Métis).
TRC – The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) of Canada was a truth and reconciliation commission active in Canada from 2008 to 2015, organized by the parties of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.
UNDRIP – The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is an international instrument adopted by the United Nations on September 13, 2007. UNDRIP protects collective Indigenous rights that may not be addressed in other human rights law. In December 2020, the Government of Canada introduced legislation to implement UNDRIP. On June 21, 2021, Bill C-15, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act received Royal Assent.

Section I: Getting To Know You

This information will not be used in a way that personally identifies you.

Section II: Familiarity with Declaration and Information Sharing

The TRC’s Calls to Action are specific to Canada and are focused on addressing the historical and ongoing damage caused by colonialism and the residential school system. The TRC called on all governments in Canada to fully adopt and implement UNDRIP as a framework for reconciliation while focusing on improving the rights and well-being of Indigenous Peoples, covering areas such as child welfare, education, language and culture, health, social, governance, economic outcomes, and justice.
BC DRIPA imposes three distinct procedural obligations on the provincial government:
– To align provincial laws with UNDRIP;
– To establish an action plan to meet the objectives of UNDRIP; and
– To produce annual reports on progress.
All of these obligations are to be met in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.

Section III: Consultation 

Work to implement British Columbia’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act has been underway for the past two years.
The BC Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s Act enables new decision-making agreements between BC and Indigenous governing bodies on decisions that directly affect Indigenous Peoples as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Indigenous governing body means a council (Band Council), government or other entity that is authorized to act on behalf of an Indigenous group, community or people that holds rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Section IV: Action Plan

The British Columbia Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DRIPA) Act aims to create a path forward that respects the human rights of Indigenous peoples while introducing better accountability, transparency and predictability on behalf of the province. It requires the development of an Action Plan to achieve this alignment over time.
DRIPA requires British Columbia to ensure that all its provincial laws are “consistent with” UNDRIP, through consultation and cooperation with Indigenous Peoples.

Resources

For more information on the BC DRIPA legislation and UNDRIP please visit:
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (BC Laws)
United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (United Nations)
For more information on the BC DRIPA Draft Action Plan please visit:
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Draft Action Plan (Government of BC)
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BC Friendship Centre COVID-19 Vaccine Clinics: Protect your community with COVID-19 immunity

We need as many people as possible fully vaccinated to best protect our Elders, knowledge keepers, children, families, and neighbours.
Please visit http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/covid-19/vaccine/register to register for your vaccination.
We raise our hands in high respect and appreciation for the Friendship Centre staff, partners, health care workers and volunteers who gave their time and energy to create a safe and welcoming space for community members to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.
A special thank you to Mission Friendship Centre Society​ and the Victoria Native Friendship Centre​ for making this video possible.

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Annual Gathering Our Voices: Indigenous Youth Leadership Training Event Cancelled Until Further Notice

August 27, 2021
PDF of Statement
After careful consideration, we are saddened to announce that the Gathering Our Voices: Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event will not return in 2022.
This decision was not made lightly—we know the connections made at Gathering Our Voices are invaluable, and we have greatly missed the passion, knowledge and joy shared by the Indigenous youth in attendance each year. We also know that protecting our communities is of the utmost importance and right now the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus is too great. 
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been in contact with the Provincial Health Office, public health leaders, and medical experts to maintain our understanding of how best to protect our communities. Factors influencing our decision to delay the return of Gathering Our Voices include the availability and accessibility of the COVID-19 vaccine for Indigenous youth, the low vaccine uptake among Indigenous people living in BC, the uncertainty of COVID-19 variants, and the resurgence of COVID-19 in parts of the province.
We hope that we can safely host Gathering Our Voices in 2023. The return of the event will be a priority following emerging and heightened challenges that have unfolded during the global pandemic. We raise our hands in deep respect and appreciation for the Indigenous youth who have made sacrifices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect their communities. 
The 25 Friendship Centres across the province have expressed concern for the health and wellness of Indigenous youth who are navigating the climbing impacts of global events such as COVID-19 and the climate crisis. Our team at the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, in collaboration with the councils and member centres, are advocating for increased supports for programs and services upholding the health and wellness of Indigenous youth.
We know the most effective leadership and wellness resources for Indigenous youth are Indigenous led. Thank you to our partners and funders who recognize this and share our vision. Together, we look forward to strengthening the tools and resources available to Indigenous youth leaders and fostering new ways of connection and collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For crisis lines and support resources, please visit: http://bcaafc.com/health/
For inquiries, please contact: govcoordinator@bcaafc.com
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The Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council is looking for new council members!

The next election will take place virtually on Thursday, September 23, 2021.

Click here to download the PAYC Candidate Application Form (fillable form on page 3)
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Notice of BCAAFC Annual General Meeting 2021

The BCAAFC Annual General Meeting is scheduled to take place Thursday, September 23, 2021, to Saturday, September 25, 2021, on the unceded traditional territory of the Musqueam people in Richmond, BC.

Voting will take place in person at the event.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email govcoordinator@bcaafc.com.

Thank you, 

BCAAFC Board of Directors

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REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS (RFP) Evaluation Services for Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program

Download a PDF of the RFP

1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 PURPOSE

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is requesting submission of proposals from experienced, qualified consultant(s) to conduct an evaluation of the Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program (DAFGP) through research and engagement with current and past participants in the program.

1.2 BACKGROUND

Since 1972, the BCAAFC has been a leading provincial organization that exists to support the 25 Friendship Centres across BC. The BCAAFC works with Friendship Centres, partner organizations and governments to develop and improve resources that support the health, wellness and prosperity of the 80% of Indigenous peoples who live in urban and off-reserve areas. The BCAAFC is also responsible for delivering the DAFGP program, which provides Indigenous families with funding in order to remove the cost barrier to accessing doula services.
The DAFGP has over 300 doulas currently enrolled in the program. Meaningful engagement with participants and feedback integration is critical to ensuring doulas are adequately supported to deliver their services.

2. SCOPE OF PROJECT WORK

The primary task to be completed is the research into the regional needs and gaps for birth support through conducting engagement sessions:
Engage with past and current participants in the DAFGP Program; ensuring a diverse range of identities and experiences are reflected (i.e., rural, urban, LGBTQIA2S+, living on and off reserve, etc.)
Engage with the DAFGP Advisory Committee and DAFGP Knowledge Keepers.
Conduct research and collect data on existing birth support gaps and needs in each region, including data to support the need for wage parity and researching wage range through engagement with DAFGP doulas.
Determine an estimate of expected demand and growth of the DAFGP Program.
Compile feedback and research findings into a report that is to be utilized internally and integrated into external reports to program funders by the BCAAFC.

3. SUBMISSION GUIDELINES AND REQUIREMENTS

The following submission guidelines & requirements apply to this RFP:

3.1 Only qualified individuals or groups with prior experience on projects that relate to cultural safety should submit proposals in response to this RFP. The submission should highlight the following:

Experience engaging with Indigenous peoples and communities.
Experience organizing and facilitating engagement sessions.
Working knowledge of OCAP Principles.
Demonstrated experience developing and leading projects from conception to delivery.
Experience working in the field of reproductive, maternal and child health.

3.2 The proposal must include details on your most recent two projects relevant to proposed work.

3.3 The proposal must include two (2) references.

3.4 The proposal must include a schedule that clearly identifies milestones for deliverables, including a proposed engagement strategy.

3.5 Ideally consultants and consulting firms should be insured and bonded, but it is not required.

4. TIMELINE

September 15, 2021 to December 15, 2021

5. BUDGET

$25,000.00 – FIXED

6. EVALUATION CRITERIA

The BCAAFC reserves the right to:
Reject any proposals whether complete or incomplete.
Reject proposals that it considers to be not in its best interests.
Request further information.
Contact references provided.

7. SUBMISSION OF PROPOSALS

The proposal shall be addressed to:
Julie Robertson, General Manager
551 Chatham Street | Victoria BC | V8T 1E1
jrobertson@bcaafc.com
PROPOSALS MUST BE RECEIVED BY: Friday August 13, 2021 end of day.
SUBJECT LINE MUST INCLUDE: Proposal for Evaluation Services
All questions should be directed to Jacquie Snelling-Welsh at doulaprogram@bcaafc.com
Preference will be given to Indigenous-led teams.
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Murray Porter Musical Performance July 1, 2021 (Watch on Facebook Live)

The British Columbia Association of Friendship Centres Presents Murray Porter Solo on July 1st, from 2 pm/PDT to 2:30/PDT.
In these challenging and trying times, let’s take a moment to pause and reflect on all that we’ve been experiencing as Indigenous People in Canada…the sadness about the news of the Children who never made it home from residential schools.
Let’s also take time to listen to music that will lift us up, and to music that speaks about truth and moves our soul.
JUNO Award winner Murray Porter will share his heart-felt songs about being an Indigenous Man. Songs about the land, the water, the MMIWG+, Indian Residential Schools…and of course, about Love.
Please go to the Murray Porter II Facebook page for his FB LIVE Performance: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004206405906
Please share far & wide!
Nia:weh, Chi-miigwetch, Huy’chka, Mēduh, Wela’lin, Naqurmiik, Tshiniskumitin, Kinanâskomitin, Hiy Hiy, Big Thanks!
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