Author Archive

Statement on Hyatt Regency Apology

Hyatt Regency Apology Letter – PDF

March 16, 2023

The BCAAFC welcomes the apology from the General Manager of the Hyatt Regency Vancouver hotel. While the Hyatt Regency’s immediate response was disappointing and deeply troubling, we are grateful that the hotel is now taking steps to address this incident as seriously as it should.

We honour the humility that the Hyatt Regency Vancouver has shown in its conclusion, and look forward to the engagement that will follow its proposed actions. BCAAFC is appreciative of the Hyatt Regency for reversing the charges incurred in our now-cancelled contract in regards to the 2023 Gathering Our Voices (GOV) Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event.

Gathering Our Voices will now be held at other venues, including the Fairmont Vancouver, Fairmont Waterfront, and Templeton Secondary. We deeply appreciate the many organizations that reached out offering their space.

Anti-Indigenous racism is an embedded feature of White-settler society that enables incidents of hate and violence against our people at a tragic rate. Our hope is that this incident sparks discussion on how others can improve Indigenous cultural safety within their own circles.

To our Indigenous community: thank you. Thank you for standing by our side in support of us and our beloved Cultural Advisor. We raise our hands in deep respect to the First Nations Leadership Council for its unwavering support, and its guidance through this hardship. To our allies and accomplices who are standing beside us demanding action and change, we humbly thank you and hold dear your support for drawing the line against anti-Indigenous racism.

Let’s call out all forms of discrimination when we see it. There is no tolerance for anti-Indigenous racism in 2023. Exposing discriminatory and anti-social behaviour helps in preventing needless violence against our people.


Media Contact:


Media Statement: Racism against Indigenous Cultural Leader by Hyatt Regency Vancouver Staff Prompts Call for Action

PDF of Statement

March 10, 2023 

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) are calling for swift action following the racist and disturbing mistreatment of a First Nations man who is a beloved Cultural Advisor and staff member of the BCAAFC by the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. We call on the Hyatt Regency to uphold the safety of Indigenous peoples, to provide mandatory anti-racism training for all staff, to demonstrate accountability for the harm they have caused, and to offer a public apology. 

From February 23-25 BCAAFC hosted a membership meeting at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver hotel for staff and youth from 25 BC Friendship Centres. After dinner on Friday, February 24, the respected Cultural Advisor and community member needed to use the restroom urgently. He sought the closest available restroom where the BCAAFC meetings had occurred over the previous two days in the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

He was refused access to the restroom by a Hyatt Regency employee, despite repeated pleas to use the toilet. After a fourth and urgent request to enter the restroom, the Hyatt Regency again barred access until the Cultural Advisor could no longer control their need to use the toilet, resulting in a public and humiliating incident. Nearby onlookers witnessed the incident take place. The Cultural Advisor recounts how the Hyatt Regency employee mocked them and smirked after noticing their wet clothing. The BCAAFC Cultural Advisor was extremely humiliated and traumatized.

The Hyatt Regency employee allowed the BCAAFC Cultural Advisor access to the washroom only after it was too late.

Furthermore, the response from Hyatt Regency management has failed to acknowledge this act of anti-Indigenous racism and harm, and the larger issue of systemic racism that so commonly targets Indigenous people.

After being initially dismissed by upper management, the Cultural Advisor received a brief apology that interpreted the incident as a “misunderstanding,” that the staff person was “only doing his job,” and offered a meagre breakfast voucher as compensation.  

The day after the incident, BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley was denied the opportunity to speak with higher level management about this violation of a human right. After learning of the incident, BCAAFC staff pre-emptively concluded the meeting at the Hyatt Regency and withdrew from the hotel to safeguard our community from further violence and racism.  

The behaviour of the Hyatt Regency employee and response from management was abhorrent, unreasonable, and displayed a gross lack of respect for the dignity and well-being of the respected knowledge keeper. It must be made clear that the discriminatory refusal of a person’s basic needs was the result of systemic anti-Indigenous racism and is nothing short of a human rights violation. Corporations that profit from our community must be made aware that mistreatment and anti-Indigenous racism will be called out and investigated with immediacy.

We have significant concerns for the safety of Indigenous peoples at Hyatt Regency that must be addressed. Over the past eight months BCAAFC staff have planned the upcoming March 22-25 Gathering Our Voices (GOV): Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event to take place at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver.  

We cannot, in good conscience, allow a gathering of 1,000 Indigenous youth take place at a venue where violence and racism have recently occurred and may occur again. BCAAFC is now actively seeking alternative locations for events previously scheduled at the Hyatt Regency.  

We call on the Hyatt Regency Vancouver to publicly apologize to BCAAFC staff and to all Indigenous peoples for enabling racist behaviour of their staff. We call on the Hyatt Regency Vancouver to take action to amend policy, procedures and practices to address Indigenous-specific racism including providing mandatory anti-racism training for staff, as outlined by the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

To be clear, BCAAFC is not seeking a financial compensation. Further, BCAAFC does not want the Hyatt to address this as merely one employee’s action. We seek to ensure all staff are trained to understand their biases against Indigenous peoples and enact measures to ensure systemic racism is addressed throughout the Hyatt organization.

BCAAFC is seeking additional volunteers for the March 22-25 Gathering Our Voices (GOV): Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event to assist in keeping Indigenous youth safe.  

BCAAFC and the FNLC stand firmly with our relative and cultural leader who experienced profound harm and raise our hands to them for their courage and strength in coming forward in the pursuit of justice, to demand dignity and human rights for our future generations.

On behalf of the undersigned:  

Leslie Varley, Executive Director, BCAAFC  

Elijah Mack, President, BCAAFC  

Carole Camille, Board Member, BCAAFC

Cal Albright, Board Member, BCAAFC

Rosanna McGregor, Board Member

Fabian Alexis, Board Member, BCAAFC

Tami Omeasoo, Board Member, BCAAFC

Cyndi Stephens, Board Member, BCAAFC



Cheryl Casimer

Robert Phillips

Hugh Braker


Grand Chief Steward Phillip

Chief Don Tom

Chief Marilyn Slett


Regional Chief Terry Teegee

Media contact:

Apply to volunteer at GOV2023:


Statement on Decriminalization of Illicit Drugs up to 2.5 Grams

The pilot project for the decriminalization of illicit drugs in B.C. does not adequately address the unnecessary loss of lives due to the poisoned drug crisis.

February 1, 2023

PDF of Statement

The toxic illicit drug crisis impacts everyone, and disproportionately impacts Indigenous peoples and our urban communities.

While we support the urgent need for drug reform in this country, Health Canada’s new exemption for the Province of B.C. under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act does not go far enough to address the systemic causes of deaths related to the toxic drug crisis. The cumulative amount of illicit drugs that qualifies for decriminalization is drastically low relative to the amount required to end the criminalization of drug users, and is not substantiated by evidence as being effective in preventing substance use-related deaths in our communities.

BCAAFC was one of several member organizations of the Decriminalization Core Planning Table that contributed to the preparation of the BC Government’s s. 56(1) exemption request to Health Canada. The exemption request was guided by our commitment to addressing the unnecessary loss of lives due to the poisoned drug crisis which disproportionately impacts Indigenous peoples in B.C. and across Canada.

In November of 2021, members of the Province’s Core Planning Table released a statement regarding the province’s application to Health Canada – with concern that the cumulative amount of 4.5 grams was far too low to end criminalization of drug users. Health Canada then lowered the cumulative amount of illicit substances approved for decriminalization to 2.5 grams.  

The 2.0 gram reduction by Health Canada is informed by the interest of police, not by peer-reviewed health research.[1] This reduction only further perpetuates the historical and contemporary forms of colonial violence exerted on Indigenous peoples.

In B.C., First Nations people died at five times the rate of the general rate of BC’s population. First Nation women die from the toxic illicit drug supply at a rate 8.8% higher than non-Indigenous women.[2]

The disproportionate number of Indigenous people ensnared by the criminal legal system also continues to impact Indigenous families and communities. Indigenous adults make up 5% of the population in Canada and 33% of admissions to federal custody in 2020/2021. The rate of incarceration of Indigenous women has increased; women now make up 50% of federally incarcerated women in Canada.[3]

Indigenous youth make up 8% of the Canadian youth population yet represented 50% of all youth admissions to custody in 2020/2021.[4] In B.C., Indigenous youth make up 56% of all youth held in Youth Custody Centres.[5]

The B.C. model for decriminalization does not meet the needs or truths of Indigenous drug users. The model for decriminalization must be informed by drug users and urban Indigenous communities in order to reduce the harms and deaths caused by the continued drug war.

We urge the provincial and federal governments to raise the cumulative amount of illicit drugs that qualifies for decriminalization, and to centre the voices of drugs users in the development of decriminalization policies to make meaningful change.

[1] Akshay Kulkarni, “What you need to know about the decriminalization of possessing illicit drugs in B.C.” CBC News (30 Jan 2023), online: <>; BC Association of Chiefs of Police, “Drug Decriminalization: An integrated approach to improve health and safety outcomes”

[2] Ibid, at 9; Brenna Owen, “First Nations women overrepresented among B.C. toxic drug deaths: doctor” CBC News (1 Feb 2023), online: <>.

[3] Canada, Office of the Correctional Investigator, Media Release, “Proportion of Indigenous Women in Federal Custody Nears 50%: Correctional Investigator Issues Statement” (Ottawa: OCI, 17 Dec 2021), online: <>.

[4] Canada, Department of Justice, State of the Criminal Justice System Impact of COVID-19 on the Criminal Justice System, Cat #: J12-8E-PDF (Ottawa: DOJ, 2022), at 40, online: <>; Statistics Canada, “Adult and youth correctional statistics, 2020/2021” The Daily, Cat no. 11-001-X (Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 20 Apr 2022), at 4, online: <>.

[5] British Columbia, Ministry of Children and Family Development, “Community Youth Justice Annual Average” (Victoria: MCFD, Mar 2022), online: <>.


BC Aboriginal Child Care Society – Database Administrator

Database Administrator, Full-time (35 hours/week)

The BC Aboriginal Child Care Society (BCACCS) is a Centre of Excellence for Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care (IELCC). We are looking for an IELCC Database Administrator to manage, maintain, and enhance our IELCC funding database and administrative systems.

Position Summary
Reporting to the IELCC Project Manager, the successful candidate will support the IELCC team to maintain a robust and accurate database of community funding applications and provide various reports on data collected.

What We Offer
The opportunity to work with a passionate and dedicated team of people with a broad range of experience and knowledge, and who provide leadership, training, resources, and services to support Indigenous early learning and child care.

competitive wage of $45,500 – $47,320 yearly, commensurate with knowledge and experience
• extended health package on successful completion of 90-day probationary period
• participation in a matched pension plan
• 35-hour work week
• learning and professional development opportunities
Responsibilities and Deliverables
• Using Blackbaud Grantmaking, support data entry, manage key contact information, and ensure data is backed up appropriately
• Ensure that the security and confidentiality of project data are maintained in alignment with the First Nations Principles of OCAP® (ownership, control, access, and possession), taking extra security precautions when handling identifiable data, as applicable
• Provide ongoing support to the IELCC team and other BCACCS staff by:
o providing limited tech support for team members who use the database
o creating and maintaining team members’ database dashboards, as necessary
o documenting database policies, procedures, and standards
o providing training and/or guidance to fellow team members on database procedures
o preparing data for meetings, reports, and presentations
o training team members on project-specific elements of the database
• Build user-friendly internal and external database forms, while considering the wide variation in users’ ability to access technology
• Build Excel spreadsheets to provide enhanced visuals and greater analysis of data
• Using database filters, build reporting templates and perform ad-hoc data pulls
• Run database queries as needed
• Ensure appropriate security measures are being exercised to mitigate risk
• Create and maintain training and reference materials, as well as procedure manuals

Qualifications, Training, Education, and Experience
Minimum three years’ experience working with databases; experience with Blackbaud Grantmaking is preferred
• Advanced Excel skills, including VLOOKUP, advanced conditional formatting, and pivot tables
• Post-secondary education is desired, preferably in a related field
• Satisfactory criminal record check
• Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities
• Excellent computer skills, specifically:
o Advanced word processing skills (Word)
o Advanced spreadsheet knowledge (Excel) including manipulating data, creation of data visualizations, formatting, and formulas
o Experience using a database (Blackbaud products preferred)
o Advanced collaboration tools (Outlook, OneDrive, SharePoint, Teams, and Zoom)
o Intermediate Adobe Acrobat Reader/Writer skills, including preparing documents for e- signature and creating fillable PDFs
o Proficient digital file management
• Analytical mindset with exceptional attention to detail, accuracy, and organizational skills
• Knowledge of BC First Nations culture, history, and issues coupled with cultural awareness and sensitivity
• Ability to support a high-performing team in a fast-paced environment by taking initiative, prioritizing needs, and meeting tight deadlines
• Approachable, professional, and personable demeanour with proven ability to build harmonious working relationships with co-workers
• Basic accounting skills and numerical proficiency
• Ability to train other colleagues and create easy-to-follow training materials

Work for this position will be performed primarily remotely, from a home-based office. Must have the ability to work in the office when required, and to attend meetings and other events at various locations. Must be available to work during regular business hours of Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Pacific Standard Time.

Closing Date: Open until filled.
Start date: As soon as possible.
How to apply:
Please submit a resume and cover letter explaining how you meet requirements and send to citing “Application for IELCC Database Administrator” in the subject line. All applications must include cover letter and resume.

We thank all those who apply. Only those candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.
In accordance with section 41 of the BC Human Rights Code and Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, preference will be given to qualified candidates with Aboriginal ancestry.


RFP: Board Training

Attn: Indigenous Consultants and Contractors

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is the umbrella association for the 25 Friendship Centres throughout the Province of British Columbia.  Our mission is to advance the Friendship Centre Movement in BC through advocacy and the delivery of programs and services that support the growth and prosperity of our member centers and urban Indigenous people.

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is seeking proposals for development of two resources to be developed to support the BCAAFC and member Friendship Centres (FCs).

Scope of Project: Board Governance Manual & Training Guide

  • Manual specific to the BCAAFC Board of Directors
    • Review previous draft board of directors manual, update and refresh to reflect best standards for board governance, and reflecting the goals and vision of the BCAAFC
    • Training modules and manual for onboarding of new FC Boards including
      • Cultural Safety
      • Strategic Recruitment
      • Roles & Responsibilities
      • Board governance policy
      • Addressing conflict
      • Supporting successful FCs
      • AGMs
      • Elections Process
      • Onboarding new EDs
      • Trainers guide
  • *We would like an option to include online training modules to be developed as part of this project.

Timeline for this project:

  • BCAAFC Board Governance Manual Timelines
  • Select successful contract – February 25th, 2023
  • Draft Table of Contacts – summary of topics – May 2023 Board Meeting
  • Draft manual to present to membership – June 2023 Board Meeting
  • Final version of BCAAFC Board Manual for submission – November 2023
  • Board Training Modules and Manual for BC Friendship Centres
  • Select successful contract – March 2nd, 2023
  • Draft layout of training modules – June 2023
  • Draft version of training Modules – November 2023
  • Finalized training modules – February 2024

Evaluation Criteria:

  • RFPs will be reviewed and evaluated based on:
    • If they are an Indigenous organization (35%)
    • Proposed costs (15%)
    • Samples of past work (20%)
    • Proven success with similar companies and projects (20%)
    • Innovative ideas for work (10%)

While all BC based consultants and contracts are encouraged to apply, preference will be given to experienced, Indigenous owned, operated and staffed organizations/businesses.

Please submit your proposals including to Julie Robertson, General Manager at by February 23rd, 2023


Path Forward Community Fund Projects Announced


Path Forward Community Fund Projects Announced

Round 2 Deadline for Applications: Monday, January 23 

We acknowledge the Songhees, Esquimalt and WSÁNEĆ peoples, the traditional keepers of this land, for allowing us to work, play, and reside on their traditional and unceded territory.

PDF Statement

Victoria, B.C. – January 19, 2023 – The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and The BC Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General is pleased to announce the first round of projects funded through the Path Forward Community Fund.

The Fund sponsors Indigenous-led, anti-violence projects that expand safety planning capacity for communities. The objective of the Fund is to ensure self-determination of Indigenous communities in addressing Indigenous-specific systemic causes of gender-based violence.

“It is made clear through the applications received that there is a need for sustained Indigenous-specific anti-violence programs to address generations of colonial anti-Indigenous violence that continues today. We must enable and create safety for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ community,” said BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley.

“Violence against women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people is far too common in our society. For too many years Indigenous women and girls have been targeted, with little consequences to perpetrators of violence, and while culturally safe services was minimal. We raise our hands in respect to the Indigenous applicants for their commitment towards creating safer spaces in their communities.” 

In April 2022, the BC Government announced that the BCAAFC will manage the $5.34-million Path Forward Community Fund. This is the first round of the Path Forward Community Fund, with a total of $2.75 million allocated to 20 organizations.

“The launch of the first round of projects for the Path Forward Community Fund is an exciting step forward in our work towards creating lasting reconciliation. The Fund will support Indigenous communities and organizations as they create and implement their own culturally safe solutions,” said Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.

“As this initiative moves forward to identify a second round of projects, we will continue to travel the path forward with our Indigenous partners, ensuring our work to end violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people is informed by survivors, family members and communities,” said Farnworth.

Round 2 of the Path Forward Community Fund is currently accepting applications. The deadline to submit an applications is Monday, January 23 at 11:59 p.m. Visit to apply.

Path Forward funding is open to Indigenous organizations, including First Nation communities, urban or off-reserve communities, Métis citizens, Inuit and 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities.

“The Path Forward Community Fund is a key opportunity for Indigenous-led organizations to make a tangible difference in their communities,” said BCAAFC Executive Director Leslie Varley. “We encourage all Indigenous organizations in B.C. to apply.”

For media inquiries, please contact:

David Murphy

BCAAFC Communications Coordinator

250-388-5522 x252


Path Forward Community Fund – Funded Projects:

Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness: “The Family Reunification Program for Indigenous Women Fleeing Violence Project” 

The project aims to provide healing and reunification of families directly affected by gender-based violence. The Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness will use culturally appropriate healing and recovery practices and a decolonized harm reduction framework to help reduce/end homelessness among First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and non-status peoples across Vancouver Island. 

AWTXW Foundation: “The Stó:lō Women’s Group Project” 

The project aims to create safe spaces and safety planning to promote gatherings in a healing space, as well as promoting cultural teachings that are foundational to healing in Stó:lō communities. Creation of an accessible website for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people will give immediate information and external resources for any person fleeing or experiencing violence. 

Carrier Sekani Family Services: “Highway of Tears Safety Capacity Building, Toolkit Engagement and Pilot Networking Project” 

The project is a website-based series of group sessions that focuses on awareness and prevention of gender-based violence for family members of MMIWG from rural and remote Indigenous communities along the Highway of Tears. The project will also serve peoples who are living in urban areas throughout British Columbia. 

Dze Ḻ K’ant Friendship Centre: “All Clans Patrol” 

The All Clans Patrol project will create an emergency response team that will be expanded to the streets. Allowing Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people to feel safe while experiencing crisis after hours. The team will be trained in culturally safe approaches, self-defense, first-aid, mental health first-aid, and suicide prevention services. 

Hulitan Family and Community Services: 

1) Land Based Counselling Groups: Will provide land-based teachings and clinical healing to urban Indigenous youth who have been directly/in-directly affected by gender-based violence, 

2) Keeping us Well: Will provide an eight=eek program to parents and caretakers, providing information and resources to better help youth to manage counselling services. 

3) Behind Closed Doors: Will be a short culturally accurate movie to bring awareness to non-Indigenous and Indigenous communities about the effects of intergenerational trauma, gender-based violence and racism. 

Lake Babine Nation: “Caring for the Caregivers as Crisis Prevention and Response” 

The project will provide cultural safety training and supports for their community patrol program: Team Gooze. Team Gooze works closely with local RCMP and health services to heal and protect its community from increased industrial activity and transient workers, and by providing culturally responsive and wrap around care to those in need. Team Gooze responds to calls for emotional support, safety planning, crisis support, accompaniments to the police or health services, and cultural connection.  

Land Back Healing Society: “Land Back Healing Society Workshop Series” 

The project will facilitate a workshop cohort of 80 to 100 urban Indigenous community members in the greater Vancouver area to promote and teach cultural healing ways, and touch on known factors of intergenerational trauma and anxiety. The cohort goals are to promote self-sufficiency and healing within themselves, and others.  

Lii Michif Family Support Services: “Creating Michif Approaches to Kikkew keur (Healing Hearts) Responses to Métis Survivors of Gender-Based Violence” 

The project goal is to access a Métis-specific domestic violence community and agency educator. This educator will facilitate matriarchal circles with Elders and survivors to understand best practices to provide supports to Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. 

Malahat Nation: “Malahat Nation Community Safety and Capacity Building Project” 

The project goal is to expand services offered on the Malahat Nation to Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people living outside of their community. Malahat Nation aims to accomplish this goal by: facilitating community events to gather feedback on the direct priorities needed in the Malahat Nation; develop crisis response plans to establish strong networking to support the delivery of therapeutic programming, counselling, and life coaching; and developing culturally safe response strategies with the local RCMP. 

Nawican Friendship Centre: “Next Steps” 

The Next Steps project will create two rooms for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people that are at risk of homelessness. By creating medium-barrier, culturally-safe temporary shelter, the project will ensure the immediate success of those fleeing domestic violence and other unsafe situations. 

North Cariboo Métis Association: “Healthy Relationships” 

The Healthy Relationships project will serve Métis men and women who are directly affected by intimate partner violence through facilitated workshops. 

Okanagan Nation Alliance: “Community Mobilization Project” 

The project will serve the Sylix people by strategically researching with community engagement, developing tools and resources, educating and information sharing, as well as community capacity building. This will aid community members in coping and preventing domestic violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.  

Squamish Nation: “Squamish Nation Integrated Public Safety Strategy-Crime Prevention/Safety Planning” 

The project will establish an integrated approach to public safety and crime prevention. By creating a holistic healing approach this will create impactful changes to the women, Elders, 2SLGBTQQIA+ community, and youth. 

Stó:lō Services Agency: “Qwí:qwelstóm Wellness Program” 

The project goal is to promote traditional healing in regards to relationships, and one’s self. By promoting healthy self-sufficiency, healing, and knowledge, communities will have immediate resources available for intimate partner violence, and other forms of abuse.  

Tears to Hope Foundation: 

Tears to Hope will facilitate multiple health and wellness workshops for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. By holding culturally safe and easily accessible workshops, this will give a new light to those experiencing hard times. 

Tl’azt’en Nation: “Supporting Victims of Intimate Partner Violence/Gender-Based Violence” 

The Supporting Victims of Intimate Partner Violence/Gender-Based Violence project goal is to uplift the health of the community by hiring a culturally safe clinical counsellor to assist in overseeing policy, procedures, laws, powers, and cultural connections. 

Tillicum Lelum Friendship Centre: “Life Givers Project” 

The Life Giver’s project will provide youth and young adults culturally safe learnings in a non-monolithic Indigenous worldview of balance and wellness. 

Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society: “Our Circle is Strong” 

The Our Circle is Strong project will hire a cultural support worker to oversee and guide Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people fleeing gender-based violence/intimate partner violence. The project will assist people navigating the health care system, filling out forms and making independent decisions.  

Waceya Métis Society: “Giving Voice” 

The Giving Voice project will facilitate 15 cultural workshops (such as beading and garment making, for example) that will provide a safe space to converse about gender-based violence in communities that affect all Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.  

Wachiay Friendship Centre: “Youth Against Violence” 

The project will create workshops for Indigenous youth and young adults such as intimate partner violence information and resources, cultural workshops, self-defense training, and understanding verbal exchanges and de-escalation techniques. 


Statement in Solidarity with the Families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

December 2, 2022

PDF of Statement

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) stand in deep and full solidarity with the families of Rebecca Contois, Morgan Beatrice Harris, Marcedes Myran, and a fourth victim who has not yet been identified. We also stand firmly with Crane River First Nation, where Rebecca was a member, and Long Plain First Nation, where Morgan and Marcedes were members, who are grieving. 

We extend our sincere condolences to the women’s families, and all of the families of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, as well as the advocates and communities mourning in Winnipeg, Treaty No. 1 Territory, the traditional lands of the Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dene, and Dakota, and Homeland of the Métis Nation. 

Their lives were allegedly taken by Jeremy Anthony Michael Skibicki, a resident of Winnipeg, MB and known member of the extremist far-right. A review of alleged murderer Skibicki’s social media presence indicates that he held violent, antisemitic, misogynistic, and white supremacist beliefs.  The consistent and prolonged lack of attention by the federal and provincial governments to the ongoing violence against Indigenous Women and Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ People, as well as the rise of the far-right targeting marginalized communities, has resulted in horrifying consequences. 

The announcement of these charges comes in the middle of the 16 Days of Activism on Gender-Based Violence and as we approach December 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women

We call on federal and provincial leaders to take urgent and meaningful action on the calls for justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls which, on page 85, states, “one of the things that makes this National Inquiry unique is that we are not investigating a past wrong, but one that is still ongoing and that is getting worse. Acts of violence stemming from the structures of colonization and coupled with racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia are not few and far between, but pervasive, immediate, and urgent. However, this violence is also preventable—if Canadians are willing to change.” 

The BCAAFC and BWSS have long advocated for culturally safe and inclusive anti-violence services for Indigenous women, Black women, immigrant/refugee women, women of colour, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. Federal and provincial funding in these areas continues to inadequately address the disproportionate violence against Indigenous women, Black women, immigrant/refugee women, women of colour and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. 

We continue our work to end gender-based violence, in loving memory of these women, their families, and their communities, please join us. 


Women and gender diverse people experiencing gender-based violence, intimate partner, domestic or sexualized violence can receive support from BWSS by calling the 24/7 crisis line at: 604-687-1867, or toll free: 1-855-687-1868.

In solidarity,

Leslie Varley, Executive Director
BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director
Battered Women’s Support Services


Gathering Our Voices 2023: Sold Out in 3 Minutes!

October 17, 2022  

Gathering Our Voices 2023: Sold Out in 3 Minutes! 

Victoria, British Columbia – October 17, 2022 – The annual Gathering Our Voices (GOV) Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event has sold out! Tickets for the event sold out within 3 minutes of opening registration. Thank you to everyone who registered!

If you didn’t get a chance to register, there is still time to add your name to the waitlist. There will be a limited amount of tickets released in the coming weeks as we confirm participant attendance. Visit to add your name to the waitlist.

Gathering Our Voices will take place from March 22 to 25, 2023 on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations in the City of Vancouver. The venue for the event is the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver and Hyatt Regency Vancouver. Visit for more information.

This is the first time since 2019 that the event is taking place. The annual event was cancelled in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is still time to sponsor! Gathering Our Voices is an event that receives nationwide attendance, and this is a major opportunity for your organization to invest in Indigenous youth. For more information on sponsorship, visit:

Follow the Gathering Our Voices team on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. Also, add you name to the GOV newsletter for the latest updates.

BC Friendship Centres are Indigenous-led, social service organizations that provide culturally-relevant programs and services for Indigenous peoples living in urban areas and away from home. Indigenous youth are an integral part of the Friendship Centre Movement, preserving traditional knowledge and leading positive change with the vision for an equitable, vibrant society for all. GOV helps Indigenous youth access invaluable tools, resources, and partnerships to further their success.

For questions about Gathering Our Voices 2023, please contact:

For media and event sponsorship inquiries, please contact:

To learn more about Gathering Our Voices, please visit:


The 1,000 Step Challenge: ‘Walk a week’ in the life of someone with mobility challenges

From November 6 to 12, we challenge you to walk ONLY 1,000 steps a day to help recognize the barriers faced by millions of Canadians who have a mobility disability.

Imagine a daily limit of 1,000 steps or less to get to work, the grocery store, a doctor’s appointment, or a social event – how would this impact your life?
1 in 5 Canadians–and 1 in 3 Indigenous people–identify as having a disability. Mobility-specific disabilities range from being almost fully able-bodied, to partial mobility, to being immobile without the use of mobility aids.   
Often, health and wellness advocates define a healthy person as someone who walks 10,000 steps a day–meanwhile, municipalities continue to overlook accessibility rights within their jurisdictions.  
The inaugural 1,000 Step Challenge will help to raise awareness for the issues faced by those with mobility disabilities by drawing our attention to the accessibility of our daily routines.

Get involved:

Join the challenge

Sign up at For one week, challenge yourself to complete your daily activities in only 1,000 steps, and consider the obstacles you face. Use the step log to track your daily step count.

Make a pledge

For those who are financially able–pledge to donate 1 cent for every step over 1,000 to a local non-profit that supports people with disabilities. 
A monetary donation is one way to support initiatives working towards accessibility and inclusion. You can also offer support through volunteer work and advocacy.

Track your progress

Review your step count each day and see how you can cut steps down without compromising your standard of living. Can you? If not, how come? 

Start a conversation

Share your reflections with your friends, family, and coworkers to start a conversation about how our communities could be more accessible and inclusive of people with mobility challenges. Share your story with us for a chance to win prizes!
Contact your local Member of Parliament/Member of Legislative Assembly to let them know that supporting accessibility and inclusion is important to you.
Sign up for the 1,000 Step Challenge newsletter and follow us on social media (Instagram and Facebook) to learn more about the accessibility issues that so many face, and steps you can take to address them.

Annual ‘Gathering Our Voices’ Indigenous Youth Leadership Training Event Scheduled to Return in March 2023

Media Release

B.C. – August 31, 2022 – The Gathering Our Voices (GOV): Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event brings together over 1,000 participants from across British Columbia and Canada to learn from Indigenous leaders, celebrate culture, share knowledge, and foster relationships to create positive change within the lives of Indigenous youth and their communities.
GOV 2023 is scheduled to take place on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations in the City of Vancouver from March 22 to March 25, 2023. Registration for the event will open at 10:00am PST on October 17, 2022.   
GOV is co-hosted by the Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council (PAYC) and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC). The 18th annual GOV event was cancelled in March 2020, just days before it was set to take place, due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event organizers made the decision to postpone GOV until it could return safely.
“Indigenous-led initiatives are the most effective at reaching Indigenous youth,” said Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BCAAFC. “We know that Gathering Our Voices has a long-lasting, positive impact on youth and their communities, with many youth telling us that their experiences at GOV profoundly influenced their path in life.”
BC Friendship Centres are Indigenous-led, social service organizations that provide culturally-relevant programs and services for Indigenous peoples living in urban areas and away from home. Indigenous youth are an integral part of the Friendship Centre Movement, preserving traditional knowledge and leading positive change with the vision for an equitable, vibrant society for all. GOV helps Indigenous youth access invaluable tools, resources, and partnerships to further their success.
GOV takes place over four consecutive days and includes keynote speakers, workshops, entertainment, career and education exhibitors, and an artisan marketplace. Applications are now open for individuals, groups, and organizations interested in collaborating with the 2023 event to be held in March.
For media and event sponsorship inquiries, please contact:
To learn more about Gathering Our Voices, please visit: