Category ArchiveUncategorised

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: communications@bcaafc.com
To learn more about Gathering Our Voices, please visit: gatheringourvoices.ca

Custom MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation will support safer access to community social services

The BCAAFC is proud to collaborate with our partners at UVic to co-develop a custom MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation to support safer access to community social services for Indigenous people.  

UVic has demonstrated a commitment to providing culturally relevant education and training opportunities through our collaborative work on the 3C Challenge, an entrepreneurship program that provided 700 Indigenous youth across the province with training and mentorship to start their own small businesses from 2019 to 2021.  

The custom designed MBA program will also build off the success of the BCAAFC Management Training Academy, delivered in partnership with the UVic Peter B. Gustavon School of Business from 2019 to 2020. The Academy covered topics requested by Friendship Centre staff to increase capacity in their Centres. The training content and format was highly regarded by the 20 Friendship Centre staff who graduated from the Academy, and all expressed a desire for future training opportunities.  

The Friendship Centre Movement has over 60 years of experience delivering culturally safe social services for Indigenous people.  

Feedback from BC Friendship Centre Membership and the Social Services Sector Roundtable has been clear:  

  • We need to increase our capacity within the non-profit sector. 
  • We need to succession plan for new leadership when our leaders retire.
  • We need education and training opportunities relevant and specific to our sector’s needs
  • We must collaborate to lead reconciliation among the non-profit sector organizations, Indigenous and mainstream. 

The custom MBA program addresses these needs and is an important step towards safer access to community social services for Indigenous people.  

Media:

New Report Highlights Increased Violence Against Indigenous Women and Gender Diverse People During COVID-19 Pandemic

British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) with Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS)

July 13, 2022Vancouver, B.C. – Xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil Waututh) – The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and Battered Women’s Support Services, joined by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the Prince George Sexual Assault Centre, released a year-long research project: “The Road to Safety: Indigenous Survivors in BC Speak Out against Intimate Partner Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

In partnership with the University of Victoria, these leading Indigenous and anti-violence organizations in B.C. undertook a research project involving surveys and first-hand interviews with Indigenous women and gender diverse people across the province to understand the experiences of intimate partner violence that Indigenous women and gender diverse people are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the key findings of “The Road to Safety” include:

  • Pressures placed by the pandemic increased the frequency and severity of intimate partner violence experienced by Indigenous women and gender diverse people. 85% of survey respondents reported an onset of intimate partner violence during the pandemic, and 77% of survey respondents reported that they experienced an increase in intimate partner violence during the pandemic.
  • 67% of survey respondents faced challenges in accessing services during the pandemic, with 30% indicating that essential support services shut down. Growing waitlists to access services, inadequate access to transport and childcare, quarantine and isolation, racism and discrimination, and the involvement of MCFD and/or law enforcement agencies also prevented many Indigenous survivors from accessing anti-violence support services and safety.
  • 47% of survey respondents did not have access to an Indigenous-run transition home or safe house with culturally safe and relevant supports and services.

According to Leslie Varley, Executive Director of BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, “Overall, our findings indicate systemic challenges of access to justice and safety for Indigenous women and gender diverse people. Indigenous women reported widespread racism; fear of child apprehension and police when reporting violence; lack of safe housing when fleeing violence; and inadequate anti-violence services. Most government funding to address violence against Indigenous women is not in the hands of Indigenous organizations. Indigenous communities must receive funding to establish and operate programs ourselves, such as Indigenous-run 24/7 crisis support for Indigenous women, girls, and gender diverse people across B.C.”

States Summer Rain, BWSS’s Manager of Direct Services & Indigenous Women’s Program: “In 2022 alone, Tatyanna Harrison, Alysia Strongarm, Noelle ‘Elli’ O’Soup, Keara Joe, Carmelita Abraham, and Chelsea Poorman have all gone missing or died under suspicious circumstances in B.C.

Indigenous women and girls are being hunted down like prey because perpetrators know they can get away with sexist, colonial violence against us. Police and child services agencies perpetuate the violence, white Canadian men rip down posters of MMIWG, and there is glacial inaction by all levels of government to the Calls for Justice by the National MMIWG2S Inquiry. This is an urgent state of crisis, and we will continue to take action until the violence ends.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Leslie Varley, BCAAFC Executive Director: 250-893-0494

Angela Marie MacDougall, BWSS Executive Director: 604-808-0507

Women and gender diverse people experiencing gender-based violence and intimate partner violence can receive support from BWSS by calling the 24/7 crisis line at: 604-687-1867, or toll free at: 1-855-687-1868. The crisis line can also be reached by text at: 604-652-1867.

Indigenous people will have safer access to community social services

Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction and British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHISTLER – The Province is investing $8.4 million to advance reconciliation in the B.C. community social services sector.

“Non-profits promote connection and provide valuable community services across B.C., and they need to be available and accessible to all,” said Niki Sharma, Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-Profits. “Through this investment, we are increasing community social service providers’ capacity to offer culturally safe, inclusive, accessible social services to Indigenous people throughout British Columbia.”

The funding will support the development of a reconciliation framework for the community social services sector over five years.

Overseen by the British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), the framework will include:

  • A custom master’s degree in business administration in Indigenous reconciliation, which will build capacity, implement cultural safety and support succession planning in the community social services sector. The program will be delivered by the University of Victoria’s Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, with the first enrolment of students to begin in spring 2023.
  • The delivery of an Indigenous cultural safety training program to give social service providers the skills and confidence needed to recognize and uproot anti-Indigenous racism.
  • The expansion and customization of existing anti-racism tools to inform organizers where cultural safety training needs to be prioritized, such as:
    • an organizational assessment tool that provides organizations with a framework to evaluate the level of anti-Indigenous racism internally as a first step toward taking action to remove it; and
    • the Safespace web application, which allows Indigenous people and others to anonymously report incidents of racism experienced within the health-care system in the province. The application has demonstrated the value of a third-party reporting system for anti-Indigenous racism and will expand to include other service areas in addition to health care.

“The British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres is pleased to be working together with our Indigenous Safespace app colleagues, the social services sector and the University of Victoria to begin taking steps to collaboratively build capacity in our sector as we actively move toward reconciliation,” said Leslie Varley, executive director, BCAAFC. “To be clear, this is an Indigenous-led, multi-faceted approach, fully supported by our social services sector, academic allies and our Indigenous colleagues with the shared goal of culturally safe and inclusive services for Indigenous people.”

Systemic racism, discrimination and institutional barriers create persistent challenges to Indigenous people in accessing social services. Structural and systemic change is necessary to right the injustices of the past and present, end anti-Indigenous hate and discrimination, and help build a healthy economy and inclusive province.

The Province released the 89-point Declaration Act Action Plan on March 30, 2022. The action plan, which is a legislative requirement under the Declaration on the Right of Indigenous Peoples Act, was developed in consultation and co-operation with Indigenous Peoples to ensure its actions were aligned with the priorities of First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in B.C.

The reconciliation framework is tied to action 4.41 of the Declaration Act Action Plan: “Work with First Nations, Métis-chartered communities and urban Indigenous organizations, such as BCAAFC, to provide funding for self-determined, community-led programs for Indigenous Peoples to upgrade skills, obtain credentials, secure employment, and develop and support community economies.”

Quotes:
Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation –

“We are committed to a future where Indigenous Peoples design, control and set the standards for services that support and facilitate their well-being. This investment supports an Indigenous-led, multi-faceted approach intended to uproot anti-Indigenous racism, remove barriers and support culturally safe and accessible community services for Indigenous Peoples.”

Rick FitzZaland, executive director, The Federation of Community Social Services of BC –

“The social services sector is not immune to the need to change and decolonize our work. This is an exciting step, led by Indigenous people and supported by allies in the sector, to take important steps to make social services in B.C. truly safe, inclusive and welcoming. Thank you to the Province for making this investment and to BCAAFC for their leadership.”

Saul Klein, dean, Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, University of Victoria –

“We are honoured to be invited to co-create the MBA in Indigenous Reconciliation together with BCAAFC and the provincial government. We look forward to bringing together Indigenous and non-Indigenous participants to build a shared understanding and commitment to reconciliation. This unique program will equip leaders in social services, government and non- profits to meaningfully advance reconciliation in their organizations and across our broader society.”

Dr. Kamea Lafontaine and Dr. Alika Lafontaine, co-founders, Safespace Networks –

“An Elder taught us that survivors have the deep desire to share their trauma, but individually and as a society we are rarely prepared to hear it. If we want truth to lead to real reconciliation, we need spaces built where sharing the truth and hearing the truth can be a safe experience for both storyteller and listener. Safepace Networks is proud to be part of a reconciliation strategy that protects truth tellers, educates decision makers and enables all of us to play our part in reconciliation.”

Livestream:

Quick Facts:
  • B.C. is home to more than 29,000 non-profit organizations that employ more than 86,000 people and contribute $6.7 billion to B.C.’s economy.
  • More than 80% of provincially contracted social services are provided by the community social service sector.
  • The B.C. Social Services Sector Roundtable provides a forum for senior government officials and agencies active in the community service sector, including BCAAFC.
  • Formed in May 2019, the roundtable collaboratively addresses issues and works to ensure co-ordinated social services delivery.
Learn More:

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship: www.bcaafc.com

Safespace: https://safespace.healthcare/bcaafc

B.C. Social Services Sector Roundtable: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/governments/about-the-bc- government/initiatives/social-services-sector-roundtable

Declaration Act and the Declaration Act Action Plan: https://declaration.gov.bc.ca/

Contacts:

Ricki-Lee Jewell
Communications Coordinator
British Columbia Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
communications@bcaafc.com
778 966-8571

Vivian Thomas
Communications Director
Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
778 974-5809

Call for Interest: BCAAFC Path Forward Adjudication Committee

Download the PDF
BC Association of Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is seeking eight (8) adjudication committee members to support the distribution of the $5.34-million Indigenous Path Forward Community Funds to help end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people(s). Committee members will reflect all femme-identifying and gender-diverse persons, persons with a disability, and represent urban and rural regions throughout the province.
The BCAAFC Path Forward Adjudication Committee will: 
– Participate in the adjudication process to select successful candidates using a consensus model;
– Provide cultural and social perspectives on Indigenous anti-violence for the project; and, 
– Ensure that decisions and recommendations reflect an Indigenous perspective that respects and considers variations of different Nations, Communities, and distinctions (First Nation, Métis, Inuit) within BC and Nationally. 
The committee meetings will be held over the next year (approximately 2-3 meetings) and will include virtual meetings and an in-person gathering. Committee members will receive an honorarium for their time. Additionally, all expenses to attend in-person meeting(s) including travel, accommodation, and meals will be reimbursed.  

For more information and to apply, please visit bcaafc.com/path-forward

**Deadline Extended** Apply by 5pm on July 15, 2022. 
Please help us by sharing this opportunity with your networks.

BCAAFC Statement: Recovery and Resiliency Fund for B.C.’s non-profit sector

March 24, 2022

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.

BCAAFC welcomes today’s news of a $34-million Recovery and Resiliency Fund for non-profit groups in the province, which includes $5 million specifically allocated to Indigenous-led organizations.

There are 25 Friendship Centres that deliver crucial programs and services to the estimated 85% of Indigenous people in B.C. that live off-reserve or in urban areas. With higher service costs and more demand on BC Friendship Centres due to the pandemic and recent environmental disasters, we applaud this announcement and look forward to more details and engagement with government partners on administering these funds in the near future.

For more information, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2022SDPR0015-000420

Watch recording of today’s funding announcement:

Participants needed for study investigating COVID-19 and intimate partner violence

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) are conducting a research study about Indigenous women’s experience of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) during the COVID-19 pandemic and how easy or difficult it is for them to access culturally safe services and resources.

You can share your experiences through one or both options:

An anonymous on-line survey.
A confidential (phone or online) one-hour interview with a trained IPV support worker who will talk to you about how the COVID-19 pandemic public health measures (e.g., social distancing, loss of employment, closure of schools and organizations, etc.) have influenced your experiences of intimate partner violence. We will ask you about any barriers and opportunities you have experiencing in accessing services that might support you.

Are you eligible?

Indigenous women (First Nations, Métis, Inuit), cis-gendered; trans-gendered; Two-Spirit,
Over the age of 19,
Living off-reserve in BC and, have experienced IPV during the COVID-19 pandemic, and,
Has tried to access, or has accessed, supports, services or resources

Compensation:

$25 VISA gift card for survey participation
$100 VISA gift card for interview participation

If you would like to complete the survey please email: Indigenousipvsurvey@outlook.com.

If you would like more information or to participate in an interview, please call or text: Summer-Rain Bentham, Manager of Indigenous Women’s Programs, BWSS, at summer@bwss.org or 604-652-1867.

BC State of Emergency: BC Friendship Centres Response to Climate Crises

PDF of Statement

November 19, 2021 – BC Friendship Centres are responding to the current impacts of the climate crises in British Columbia. Catastrophic flooding and landslides have caused widespread damage resulting in the displacement of thousands of people, loss of life, evacuation orders for 62 dairies, and the closure of major highways and railways.
Merritt, BC, is under a citywide evacuation order, resulting in the closure of Conayt Friendship Society. Conayt Friendship Society staff continue to be in touch with clients and community members to support their access to safety, food, and shelter; connecting with Elders to ensure they have what they need and distributing gift cards for supplies and food to community members who have relocated to Kamloops and Kelowna.
Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society and Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society (Kelowna) are providing outreach to an influx of evacuees, responding to challenges accessing food, clothing, shelter and other required resources. 
Mission Friendship Society is responding to a local state of emergency. The Friendship Centre is currently unable to receive food shipments to supply their community food programs. Friendship Centres across the province are responding to the consequential impacts of road closures on food security and resources.
Friendship Centres are actively working with clients and community members in response to challenges around milk supply for infants, shelter for people displaced, food security, and the psychological impacts of the devastation unfolding.
The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is in communication with the provincial and federal government and community partners to provide information and facilitate solutions to temporary shortages of food, supplies, and shelter.

To donate directly to Friendship Centres:

Conayt Friendship Society (Merritt): Donate by e-transfer to CoreET@conayt.com.
Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society: Donate through GoFundMe account.
Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society (Kelowna): Donate through CanadaHelps account.
Mission Friendship Society: Donate through CanadaHelps account.
The action, leadership and compassion of Friendship Centre staff in the face of emergency and disaster continues to amaze us. Friendship Centres open their doors to many, provided outreach wherever and whenever they can, and are constantly striving to implement solutions in times of crises.
We are dedicated to supporting each Friendship Centre and their ongoing commitment to taking care of one another. We raise our hands to the staff, community members, farmers, first responders, distribution workers, and health care professionals who are doing all they can to protect and serve their communities at this time.
In solidarity,
Leslie Varley
Executive Director

Resources:

Provincial state of emergency declared (Government of BC, November 17, 2021)
Current Flooding Information, Nov 18, 2021 (Government of BC)
Alerts for: B.C. Peace River (Government of Canada, November 19, 2021)
Keep Food Safe After a Disaster or Emergency (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
BC Flood Resources for Small Businesses (Small Business BC)

Indigenous-led research project will improve support services for Indigenous women and children facing intimate partner violence

PDF of Media Release

October 18, 2021 – There has been a dramatic increase in intimate partner violence against Indigenous women since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. An Indigenous-led survey entitled “Intimate Partner Violence against Indigenous Women in BC: Unintended Impacts of COVID-19”, will provide information to improve support services for Indigenous women, and their children, who are facing intimate partner violence.
The survey is part of a multi-phase research project led by the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) and Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS) and conducted by Indigenous health researchers at the University of Victoria.
“The continued overrepresentation of Indigenous women and girls in cases of gender-based violence indicates a clear need for Indigenous-led support services that are culturally safe, relevant, and accessible,” said Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BCAAFC.
The number of women and girls killed by violence in British Columbia is among the highest by region in Canada (Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability, 2021). Indigenous women and girls are 12 times more likely to be murdered or missing than non-Indigenous women, a number that is even higher for Indigenous women and girls in the North (National Inquiry, 2019).
“Canada is in a crisis, gender-based violence towards Indigenous women, girls, trans, two spirit and non-binary people is the worst it has ever been. This survey will clearly identify the barriers and what still needs to happen to protect Indigenous women and girls from not only the threat but the act of gender based violence,” said Summer-Rain, Manager, Indigenous Women’s Program, BWSS.
The knowledge shared by participants in the research study will help social service organizations, such as BC Friendship Centres and the BWSS, improve and increase support services that address the needs of Indigenous women and girls experiencing gender-based violence.
A report on the research findings will amplify the voices of Indigenous women and girls, and call for the design, development and delivery of anti-violence supports that serve them.
The survey is available online at http://www.surveymonkey.ca/r/IndigIPVResearch

Contacts:

Media:
Ricki-Lee Jewell, Communications Coordinator, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
(M) 778-966-8571 (Email) communications@bcaafc.com
Program Inquiries:
Lucy Hagos, Anti-Violence Coordinator, BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres
(M) 250-891-8478 (Email) lhagos@baafc.com

About BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

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.

Learn more:

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)
Gender-based Violence is on the Rise (Battered Women’s Support Services, July 21, 2021)
Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (National Inquiry, 2019)
Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, 2015) 

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)