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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

Thank you, 

BCAAFC Board of Directors


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

Download a PDF of the RFP



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.


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.


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.


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.


September 15, 2021 to December 15, 2021


$25,000.00 – FIXED


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.


The proposal shall be addressed to:
Julie Robertson, General Manager
551 Chatham Street | Victoria BC | V8T 1E1
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
Preference will be given to Indigenous-led teams.

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:
Please share far & wide!
Nia:weh, Chi-miigwetch, Huy’chka, Mēduh, Wela’lin, Naqurmiik, Tshiniskumitin, Kinanâskomitin, Hiy Hiy, Big Thanks!

Statement in Support of Indigenous Elders, Families and Communities Impacted by the Residential School System

May 28, 2021 – We at the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) extend love and support to the Elders, families and communities impacted by the Canadian Residential School System.
The Tk’emlups confirmed findings of 215 children buried on the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School brings forward the trauma experienced by residential school survivors, families and communities from the insufferable actions of the Canadian Government.
We raise our hands in high respect and appreciation for the strength of Elders and community members who are holding space for one another at this time.
Wally Samuel, Ahousaht Elder, BCAAFC Elders Council Member, and Survivor of the Alberni Indian Residential School, is part of a collective organizing a vigil for survivors, outdoors at the Port Alberni Friendship Center. Community members are encouraged to bring their feathers, regalia and drums to honour victims of the residential school system, their families and communities.
The vigil organized at Port Alberni Friendship Center is one example of the love and leadership demonstrated by Indigenous communities to heal and take care of one another in the face of unspeakable loss.  
We encourage survivors and families in urban Indigenous communities to reach out to their local Friendship Centre community for support. The BCAAFC will be holding a ceremony in honour of survivors at our next annual general meeting. 
Support resources available:
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419
Indian Residential Schools Survivors Society: 1-800-721-0066
Indian Residential Schools Program (First Nations Health Authority)
In solidarity, on behalf of BC Friendship Centres,
Leslie Varley
Executive Director

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Last year, BC Friendship Centres partnered with the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) BC Human Rights Clinic to increase knowledge of human rights for Indigenous peoples and the services available to Indigenous peoples living in BC to support and uphold their human rights.   
The BC Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination in three main areas of daily life: our work places, our tenancies, and in our access to services such as stores, gyms, hospitals, and schools. We can use the BC Human Rights Code to hold people, businesses and other organizations accountable for discrimination.
Learn more by watching the animated video—Discrimination and Human Rights: Information for Indigenous People Part 1.  

The BC Human Rights Tribunal is like the court that hears human rights complaints and makes legal judgements and decisions.   
Learn more by watching the animated video—Discrimination and Human Rights: Information for Indigenous People Part 2.

When you make a case of discrimination to the BC Human Rights Tribunal and they decide you have proven your claim, they can order compensation from the person or organization who discriminated (called the respondent). Depending on the circumstances, you may be entitled to lost wages, expenses, or compensation for injury to dignity—meant to compensate people for the emotional impact that discrimination can have.
Learn more by watching the animated video—Discrimination and Human Rights: Information for Indigenous People Part 3.

The short film, Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples, was produced in addition to the three-part animated video series. In the film, Indigenous peoples share their experience of making a human rights complaint and working through the process.
Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BCAAFC, said “I think that we need to put some of these cases before the courts and make them publicly known so that people will know where the line is—so that Indigenous people will know that they have this resource, and so that non-Indigenous people who are serving us will know when they’re crossing the line.”

The supporting print resources developed provide information specific to the following human rights:
We have the right not to be judged by the colour of our skin
We have the right to discrimination-free housing
We have the right to discrimination-free health care
We have the right to have our disabilities accommodated at work
We have the right to a harassment-free workplace
A PDF of the posters can be downloaded here: Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights Posters
Education is a vital part of achieving justice in human rights. Please share the digital, print and video resources within your networks and communities to help support and uphold human rights for Indigenous peoples.
Thank you to the team at CLAS BC Human Rights Clinic for developing and delivering these educational resources, the Law Foundation of British Columbia for funding to support this project, to the participants who shared their experiences to help empower others, and to our partners for amplifying this work.


Status Quo is No Longer an Option: Towards a Coalition on Action Against Indigenous Specific Racism in Health Care

Join us on June 1, 2021 from 8AM-4PM PST for a virtual conference!

Presented by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, in partnership with
Safespace Networks and San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training

What do we want access to healthcare to look like in five years? How do we get there?

Join us for a generative conversation on action towards creating a safe health care system for Indigenous peoples.
Indigenous thought leaders will draw from their experiences as both patients and providers in Canada’s health system to discuss:
Tangible steps towards eliminating Indigenous specific racism and discrimination from Canada’s health system.
Solutions that are empowering Indigenous people to share their truths and define the pathway to safe health care.
Why current strategies for addressing racism in health care aren’t working—status quo is no longer an option.
Register here: Zoom Registration Portal
For more information on the speakers and schedule, please visit:

Indigenous leaders calling for inquiry into recent deaths of Indigenous residents in BC Housing facility

Media Release                                                                                  

April 23, 2021
Smithers, British Columbia – Six Indigenous residents have died at a BC Housing facility located in Smithers within the past 12 months—marking the highest number of annual deaths to occur at one facility within the province. Local community members feel that the deaths are connected to a lack of culturally safe housing programs for Indigenous people. Indigenous leaders are calling on BC Housing to conduct an inquiry into the recent deaths of Indigenous people who were clients of Smither’s supportive housing and undertake a full review of the cultural safety available at supportive housing facilities.
“We know that Indigenous-led, culturally safe supportive housing is needed to provide equitable care to Indigenous people accessing housing assistance,” said Annette Morgan, Executive Director of Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre, “Smithers has the poorest example of Indigenous housing support in the province and we need to change that.”
The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre is part of a Canada-wide network of Indigenous social service organizations. In 2020, the Smithers Community Services Association (SCSA) indicated they did not support the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre’s new Indigenous Housing Support Program, stating that the Friendship Centre’s program duplicated SCSA services.   
“It is unacceptable that Smithers Community Services Association continues to be unwilling to recognize the value of a longstanding Indigenous organization providing support services that will contribute to community capacity to handle the housing crisis in a culturally appropriate manner,” said Morgan.
“We are seeing funding intended to support services for Indigenous people awarded to non-Indigenous agencies across all social service sectors,” said Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), “Non-Indigenous agencies controlling services for Indigenous people perpetuates the barriers to equitable care. This can have deadly consequences when we are hearing from Indigenous people that they do not feel safe accessing social services.”
The impacts of colonization is inextricably linked to homelessness and addiction experienced by Indigenous people. Historical harm, systems of oppression and anti-Indigenous racism increase the risk for isolation, poverty, intergenerational trauma, and loss of connection to culture and community for Indigenous people, factors that must be considered in order to provide culturally safe, holistic care for Indigenous residents in supportive housing.
“The loss of Indigenous people accessing social services needs to be addressed at every government level,” Morgan said, “We all need to be asking if these services are ensuring people have the necessary supports to move towards holistic health.”
Smithers is located along the Highway of Tears, a corridor of Highway 16 linked to a high number of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), which Indigenous leaders said must be a part of the investigation into the deaths of Indigenous residents in SCSA housing. 

For more information:

Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society:
Contact: Annette Morgan, Executive Director
(M) 250-877-2858 (Email)
BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres:
Contact: Ricki-Lee Jewell, Communications Coordinator
(M) 778-966-8571 (Email)

Indigenous People are a High Priority to Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations

Media Release

April 15, 2021

Coast Salish Territory – The British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), Métis Nation BC (MNBC), the First Nations Health Council (FNHC), the First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA), and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), are responding to questions posed by some members of the public asking why Indigenous people are a higher priority for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine in British Columbia (BC). 

“From the outset, the vaccine rollout to Indigenous people in BC was based on recommendations from Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said Richard Jock, FNHA’s Chief Executive Officer. “In considering potential at-risk groups, the advisory committee identified Indigenous people as high risk and therefore considered a high priority to receive an initial dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

FNHA Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shannon McDonald said, “Access to acute care within 2.5 hours was a key element and informed the decision to provide vaccines to remote communities first and work our way inward. As COVID-19 clusters were identified, the FNHA directed vaccine supply to those affected communities.”

The following factors formed some of the basis of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommendations:

  • Racialized and marginalized populations in Canada have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
  • Systemic barriers to supportive care for COVID-19 also exist in urban settings due to factors such as poverty, systemic racism and homelessness.
  • The risk of transmission is especially high in remote or isolated First Nations communities where physical distancing and other infection prevention and control measures are challenging.
  • Adults living in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities, where access to health care may be limited and infection can have disproportionate consequences,should be prioritized to receive initial doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The existence of anti-Indigenous racism within the provincial health care system has been well documented and cannot be ignored. Indigenous-specific racism can lead to hesitancy in seeking care, negative experiences at the point of care, inequitable medical treatment, physical harm and even death for BC’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

“In Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s review into systematic racism towards Indigenous peoples in BC’s health care system, we heard first-hand from Métis voices across the provinces about the inequitable treatment they experienced before the pandemic,” said Lissa Dawn Smith, Acting President, MNBC.  “That they are having these experiences during the pandemic, and during the critically important vaccination stage, shows there is still so much work to do to increase education of the general public about the Métis population in BC and to root out inequities that exist in our society”, “We must and we can do better. Through collaboration with our Indigenous partners, the province and its health authorities, we can transform our system, which will ensure a safer healthcare experience for all Indigenous people.”

Existing data shows the extent to which Indigenous people are disproportionally affected with a much higher risk of hospitalization and death due to the transmission of the COVID-19 virus than the non-Indigenous population in BC. 

“Statistics show that Indigenous people face a higher risk of death from COVID-19 and prioritized immunization will save lives,” said Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BCAAFC. “We know that many Indigenous people do not feel safe accessing health services due to experiences with anti-Indigenous racism. It is critical that the Ministry of Health communicates why Indigenous people have been identified as a high priority for the vaccination to build a shared understanding and support for one another throughout the immunization process.”

As of March 17, 2021, COVID-19 data reveals that:

  • First Nations people tested positive for COVID-19 at a rate of 3,660 people per 100,000 compared to 1,713 per 100,000 in other residents of BC, more than double the rate1.
  • The median age of hospitalization for First Nations with COVID-19 was 11 years younger than the provincial median. Half of the First Nations people admitted to hospital with COVID-19 were under the age of 55, while half of the people in BC admitted to hospital with COVID-19 were under the age of 661,2.
  • The median age of ICU admissions for First Nations was six years younger than the provincial median. Half of the First Nations people admitted to ICU were younger than 59, while half of the people in BC admitted to ICU with COVID-19 were under the age of 651, 2.
  • The median age of death for First Nations who died from COVID-19 was 18 years younger for First Nations compared to the provincial median. Half the First Nations people who died from COVID-19 were under the age of 67, while half of the people in BC who died from COVID-19 were younger than 851, 2.

1Provincial Laboratory Information Services data as of March 17, 2021
2COVID case line list prepared by BCCDC, as of March 17, 2021

While the above data is specific to First Nations people, given the prevalence of anti-Indigenous racism in the health care system and systemic barriers faced by Indigenous people, it is reasonable to expect similar outcomes for all Indigenous people.

The evidence is clear. It is an unfortunate truth that Indigenous people are disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 virus. This and other compelling data is at the core of the need to quickly and efficiently deliver the COVID-19 vaccine to First Nations people both in-community, and urban and away from settings,  as quickly as possible.

“Systemic racism in health care is the daily, lived experience for First Nations people in BC – creating poor health outcomes for our people with higher rates of diabetes, high blood pressure and other chronic conditions – and higher COVID-19 infection rates’ said Charlene Belleau, FNHC Chair.A shared goal of equal access to health care requires partners to be accountable for a system grounded in cultural humility and safety and free from racism.”

“First Nation Health Directors are the voice of the community, working to transform and decolonize the health care system in BC – an essential step to creating a health care experience free of racism for First Nations people,” said Keith Marshall, FNHDA President. “Health Directors will continue to deliver health and wellness services that are closer to home and that affirm First Nations cultures, rights and identities – actions we know improve health outcomes for First Nations people.”

Learn More:

British Columbia Aboriginal Association of Friendship Centres
Media contact: Ricki-Lee Jewell, Communications Coordinator
(M) 250-940-5184 (Email)

Métis Nation British Columbia
Media contact: Nick Hosseinzadeh
(M) 778-996-6425 (Email)

The First Nations Health Authority
Media Contact: Kevin Boothroyd, Director Media Relations
(M) 604-831-4898 (Email)

The First Nations Health Council

The First Nations Health Director’s Association


Global News Morning BC: Leslie Varley on Safespace

A new tool to report racism within B.C.’s healthcare system

The ‘SafeSpace’ App allows Indigenous people to report racism within the healthcare system without fear of backlash. Leslie Varley of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centre explains how the app works.

Pass the Feather – Why Indigenous Doula/Birthwork?

The BCAAFC was honoured to host the Indigenous Birthworkers Forum with BC Association of Pregnancy Outreach Programs (BCAPOP) on February 23! Massive thanks to our Advisory Group for overseeing and guiding the delivery of the Indigenous Birthworkers Forum. ⁣ ⁣
The forum included presentations and trainings to support inclusivity, maintain integrity and honour the health, wellbeing and safety of Indigenous birthers and families. 70 Indigenous birthworkers attended the forum.⁣ ⁣
Indigenous doulas from the Doulas for Aboriginal Families Grant Program shared the values they bring to birthwork in this video for the forum.
To learn more about the DAFGP program, please visit​. ⁣

Why Indigenous doula/birthwork?

Video credits in order of appearance:⁣ ⁣
Siyothlewot (Brooke Bobb-Reid):⁣ Seabird Island (Sto:lo Territory) and Sts’ailes⁣ Auntie (Kwiyo:s), Birth Doula, Traditional Birth Keeper, Maternal Child Health Lead.⁣ ⁣
Nicole Williams:⁣ From Nlaka’pamux’, living in Secwepemc territory. Mother, DONA certified birth/postpartum Doula, and Team Leader of Early Years Wellnessteam. Breastfeeding assistant.⁣ ⁣
Iris Jules:⁣ Elder from Adams Lake Indian Band⁣ I have assisted with all my daughters and a couple of my nieces with birthing. I have been taught this from my Grandmother and Mother in-law as well as other elderly woman. Also, traditional birthing and preparation of after birth ceremony.⁣ ⁣
Jacqueline Snelling-Welsh⁣: Mixed Ojibwe and European living in Lekwunken traditional and unceded Territory. I’m a Mother, Doula, Birthing From Within Mentor and the DAFGP Coordinator for BCAAFC.⁣ ⁣
Redwillow Dawn Morningstar Peters⁣: I am from the Xat’sull (soda creek) First Nations band in the unceded, unsurended Secwépemc Territory. I am a birth and postpartum doula birth keeper within our communities; Breastfeeding lactation assistant as well as an Aboriginal infant development consultant.⁣ ⁣
Jackie Jack⁣: Nuu-Chah-Nulth. Birth, Post Partum & End of Life Doula. I have been supporting families since I was 16 in various ways.⁣ ⁣
Roxanne Mierau⁣: Sayisi Dene, Tadoule Lake Manitoba. Tready 5 territory.⁣ Mother, Matriarch, Auntie, Sister, Birth Doula, Health and Wellness Counsellor at Urban Native Youth Association.⁣ ⁣

Pass the feather! ⁣ ⁣

**Please note: We do not own the rights to this music. The music belongs to its respective owners. Songs: Electric Pow Wow Drum by A Tribe Called Red and Hoppípolla by Sigur R**