Category ArchiveUncategorised

Join the Provincial Aboriginal Youth Council: The next PAYC election takes place on September 24, 2020

View Poster

PAYC members are:

Council members advocate for issues that are important to Indigenous youth, and are passionate about the future.
Council members strive to be role models and help their peers share their voice and be heard.
Change Makers
Council members engage other youth in their communities and advocate for change they want to see.

What does PAYC do?

PAYC members attend monthly meetings, participate in workshops and community engagement sessions with the BCAAFC, and assist with planning the annual Gathering Our Voices: Indigenous Youth Leadership Training event.
Meetings and engagement sessions may take place via teleconference, video conference, or in-person.

Who can join PAYC?

Eligible candidates…
– Are between the ages of 18 and 24.
– Acquire a letter of support from their local Friendship Centre.
– Submit an expression of interest, in order to be nominated for election.

Steps to apply:

1) Get in touch with your local Friendship Centre for a letter of recommendation.
2) Let us know why you’re interested in being a PAYC member.
3) Submit to by September 22, 2020 at 5:00pm PST.

The next PAYC election will take place virtually on September 24, 2020.


Contact, or 250-388-5522 ext. 216.

Board Resolution of BCAAFC: To Move Annual General Meeting Date

Passed on June 24, 2020

Change of Date to Annual General Meeting

Due to the delays associated with the COVID pandemic and subsequent audit delays, the BCAAFC Annual General Meeting scheduled to take place on July 10, 2020 has been moved.
The BCAAFC Annual General Meeting will now take place on: September 25, 2020.
Detailed information for the meeting will be provided to membership 30 days before the scheduled date.
There are no special resolutions for the changes.
Thank you for your support and understanding as we navigate these changes together.
Board of Directors

Racist “game” played by hospital staff in British Columbia is unacceptable, say Indigenous health leaders

Emergency room staff regularly play “Price is Right” when predicting blood alcohol level of Indigenous patients

News Release

June 19, 2020 —First Nations, Métis and Inuit patients seeking emergency medical services in British Columbia are often assumed to be intoxicated and denied medical assessments, contributing to worsening health conditions resulting in unnecessary harm or death. This is according to information obtained by Métis Nation BC and the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres. Additionally, the parties have notified the First Nations Health Authority of this concern.

Participants within the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program detail thousands of cases of racism in healthcare, resulting in the harm of Indigenous patients. In a recent training session, a program participant disclosed a common game played within B.C. hospital emergency rooms, where physicians, nurses and other staff try to guess the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of Indigenous patients. The winner of the game guesses closest to the BAC – without going over.

“There remains a lack of will to address systemic and specific racism towards Métis, First Nation and Inuit people,” says Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), “We know that our people avoid hospitals because we are afraid of having a discriminatory encounter. This happens to the point where Indigenous people end up in emergency with extreme diagnosis, like cancer.”

“What is allegedly happening in BC hospitals to Métis, First Nations and Inuit peoples is deeply disturbing and must immediately come to an end” says Daniel Fontaine, Chief Executive Officer for the Métis Nation BC.  “We remain committed to work with Provincial Health Services Authority to increase Métis specific content curriculum to increase the knowledge and understanding of healthcare providers serving Métis people to ensure improved care and culturally safe experiences in BC”.

The Province of Ontario made San’yas training mandatory for every employee in the Ontario Public Service in 2016. The Province of B.C. has yet to enforce standardized anti-racism training for health service workers.  BC Health Authorities are inconsistent in their requirements for anti-racism training despite evidence that racism is prevalent within health systems. Cases of systemic and racialized harm and death continue to be looked at as a medical learning opportunity.    

BCAAFC and MNBC, Indigenous leadership are calling upon the Ministry of Health to accept the following four recommendations:  

  1. A public inquiry into Indigenous specific racism in health care in B.C with a focus on hospitals and emergency departments.
  2. Ensure that all front-line staff are required to take mandatory First Nations, Métis and Inuit training that results in increased health professional personal accountability in the delivery of safe health care.
  3. Commit to structural and systemic changes to dismantle indigenous specific racism to ensure culturally safe health care experiences for Indigenous people.
  4. Ensure that Indigenous governments play a stronger role in the development and implementation of anti-racism programs and training throughout BC.

Implementing these recommendations helps address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action and would signify the beginning of concrete changes within the Province of B.C.’s health system.

MNBC and BCAAFC agree the way for the Province of BC to properly acknowledge National Indigenous People’s Day on June 21st would be to address the longstanding racism concerns of Métis, First Nations and Inuit people in our province.


Leslie Varley
Executive Director
BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

Daniel Fontaine
Chief Executive Officer
Métis Nation British Columbia


Métis Nation BC

Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC) represents 90,000+ self-identified Métis people in BC. To date, over 21,000 Métis Citizens are provincially registered with MNBC. The Métis National Council and the Provincial Government of British Columbia, as well as the Federal Government of Canada, recognize Métis Nation British Columbia as the Governing Nation for Métis in BC.

BC Association of Friendship Centres

The BC Association of Friendship Centres represents 25 centres around the province that provide a wide array of social and health services focused towards the 85% of Indigenous people residing in urban areas.

Notice of changes to the BCAAFC annual general meeting 2020

Notice of changes to the BCAAFC annual general meeting are as follows:

Location: Online via Zoom

Date: July 10, 2020

Time: 9:00AM – 4:30PM PST

The BCAAFC does not have any special resolutions at this time.

Zoom details will be distributed via email on June 25, 2020.

These changes comply with provincial health orders and have been made for the health and safety of our members and communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Any questions can be directed to Cathie Storey – Board Liaison:  

Thank you for your support and understanding as we navigate these changes together.

How Friendship Centres Are Supporting Communities During COVID-19

The 25 Friendship Centres in British Columbia have been contributing to the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people for almost 70 years.
At the best of times, Friendships Centres work against high unemployment rates, cutbacks in government spending, and general economic uncertainty.
Now, amid the global COVID-19 crisis, Friendship Centres continue to find ways to provide critical services with disproportionately less support from provincial and federal governments.

Friendship Centre doors are closed to the public so that staff can take all possible measures to operate programs and services safely, including:

– Ensuring minimal points of contact when preparing care kits and managing deliveries
– Frequent sanitation
– Providing direction on physical distancing protocols
– Using safety equipment when possible

The increase in requests for Friendship Centres services, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, surpasses the funds and resources available. Staff are committed to doing the best they can with limited supplies, safety protection, equipment, and financial resources; balancing their own health and safety with the health and safety of their clients, communities and relatives.
Friendship Centre networks understand the unique circumstances within the communities they serve and have found creative ways to help as many people as possible despite present challenges.

How Friendship Centres have adapted to meet community needs:

– Increased number of meal distribution days per week.
– Delivering meals to individuals unable to travel to the Friendship Centre (such as Elders and shut ins).
– Offering supervision for children while parents and caregivers get shopping done.
– Collaborating with local businesses and communities to connect individuals and families in need with food resources available.
– Purchasing slow cookers for families and delivering weekly recipes and ingredients so that families may prepare healthy meals together.
– Offering grocery pick-up and delivery services.
– Offering grocery gift cards and coupons to families and individuals.
– Constructing vegetable gardens and greenhouses, planting fruit trees and berries to provide fresh produce.
– Implementing extra safety precautions in overnight shelter facilities to protect the health of clients and staff.
– Distributing hygiene kits to homeless, creating handwashing stations.
– Implementing extra precautions to continue providing access to storage space, washrooms, showers, and laundry, as safely as possible.
– Setting up clients in isolation with tablets and Zoom to stay connected to each other and Friendship Centre counsellors.
– Preparing and distributing an outline of all support organizations within the community (i.e. hours of operation, if the office is open/closed, contact information, services available), and updating the document weekly to provide clarity for clients.
– Helping clients access housing subsidies and other financial resources available to them.
– Purchasing Chromebooks for youth who need access to school work.
– Hosting Facebook live classes for programs.
– Delivering infant care kits to pregnant individuals (food boxes, diapers, formula).
– Delivering client care kits containing games, arts, and cultural crafts for all ages.
– Maintaining client contact and providing counselling services via phone, teleconference, social media, etc.
– Providing harm reduction supplies.
– Providing prescription pick-up and delivery.

Thank you to staff, volunteers, leaders, frontline workers, knowledge keepers, and every community member doing their best to help one another and protect the health and safety of their communities. We are stronger when we work together.

Please contact us at if there is anyway that we can collaborate to better serve communities during this time.

COVID-19: April 17, 2020

No Emergency Funding for BC Friendship Centres Confirmed

The 25 Friendship Centres located in British Columbia have not received any additional funding to support the increased need for Friendship Centre services during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The BCAAFC has requested emergency funding from the provincial government, no funding has been confirmed. 

The National Association of Friendship Centres has submitted a proposal to the Indigenous Community Support Fund, no funding for Friendship Centres has been confirmed.

COVID-19 support resources:


BC Friendship Centres Over Capacity

At this time, BC Friendship Centres have not received any additional funding to support the increase in requests for services from BC First Nations members during the COVID-19 pandemic.⁣⁣

Please know that each Friendship Centre is doing the very best they can to serve their urban Indigenous clients and community members in need, but are over capacity with reduced resources and no additional supports.⁣⁣

Friendship Centre staff are challenged with balancing their own heath and safety, the health and safety of their families, and the health and safety of their clients.⁣⁣

Thank you for your patience and understanding during this time of crisis.⁣

Please connect with us if there is anyway we can collaborate to better serve those in need:

Friendship Centres work to provide essential services during COVID-19 pandemic

News Release

Victoria, B.C. — April 8, 2020 — Friendship Centres are experiencing an increase in requests for services from First Nations communities and vulnerable populations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Collectively, Friendship Centres are the largest infrastructure serving urban Indigenous populations across Canada, providing services critical to the health and wellbeing of their clients for almost 70 years. At their core, Friendship Centres are committed to a brighter future for all, helping whoever walks through their doors in need of supports, no matter their ancestry or Indigenous status.

“We do what we can for all Indigenous people, and when we are in times of emergency, like this COVID-19 pandemic, we pull together, and do our very best to address the increased need for services,” Leslie Varley, Executive Director of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), is working alongside the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) to secure supports for centres providing essential and urgent services to communities. The NAFC is submitting a funding proposal to the federal government on behalf of Friendship Centres nation-wide, in hopes of receiving a portion of the $15 million in emergency funding allocated for urban Indigenous organizations.

The 25 Friendship Centres located in B.C. have a history of supporting people during times of crisis, some serving as evacuation support centres during intense wildfire seasons. During this pandemic, Friendship Centres are continuing to provide essential services whenever possible, and many are working to fulfill additional urgent needs, such as shelter services for people experiencing homelessness. Other Friendship Centres are reaching out to ensure neighbouring Indigenous communities have access to services that other groups and organizations are not providing for.

The BCAAFC is requesting additional supports from the provincial government, and seeking opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and governing bodies to ensure Indigenous and Métis people, wherever they reside, are not suffering due to jurisdictional boundaries.

The backgrounder attached outlines the requests made by Friendship Centres in order to safely provide essential and urgent services.

For more information, please contact:
Leslie Varley, Executive Director, BCAAFC
250-893-0494 |


B.C. Friendship Centres

Each Friendship Centre is an autonomous not-for-profit organization, governed by a local board of volunteer directors. Each centre develops programs and services depending on the needs identified by community members.

The province of B.C. accepts that 85% of Indigenous people in BC reside off reserve. This means many Indigenous people living off reserve are in dire need of supports and services; however, at this point, few additional services and resources are available to Friendship Centres.

Federal Government: Indigenous Community Support Fund

The $305 million in funding announced by the federal government breaks down as follows:
– $125 million for First Nations, with a base amount for each
– $45 million for Inuit determined by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and land-claim groups
– $30 million for Métis Nation communities, through provincial bodies
– $15 million for Indigenous urban organizations (Canada-wide)

Across Canada, only urban Indigenous organizations, such as Friendship Centres, are required to apply for funding through a national proposal process, rather than receiving the funds allocated directly.

Friendship Centres Requests

The National Association of Friendship Centres is submitting a proposal on behalf of all Friendship Centres for a portion of the $15 million funding available for Indigenous urban organizations.

Friendship Centres have asked for:
– Food and food vouchers to address food insecurity
– Care packages delivered to those with health problems and shut-ins
– Home kits for postpartum parents, including diapers and formula
– Cold and flu medications and other basic medications and first aid kits
– Travel supports for those who are having to resort to hitchhiking in areas like the Highway of Tears
– Taxi vouchers for those needing to get supplies or go to a doctor
– Supports for the homeless, including bedding, warm clothing, tents, and storage
– Cell phones for isolated elders, shut-ins and homeless folks so they can stay in contact with loved ones and service providers
– Hand washing stations, gloves, masks and sanitizer, for Friendship Centre staff and communities

B.C. Friendship Centres as Essential Service Providers

Friendship Centres fulfill the Government of B.C.’s criteria for essential service providers, excerpt as follows:

“Vulnerable Population Service Providers
– Businesses and non-profits that provide food, shelter, social, and support services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals, such as:

  • Community Kitchens
  • Voluntary and community service providers
  • Mental health, substance use and addictions services
  • Transitional, social and support housing

– Childcare services for those persons providing essential services
– Caregivers for children in care and out of care.”

In addition to the essential services defined, many Friendship Centres also provide specialized services, such as safe transition houses for women and families fleeing violence, and social housing.


– Government of Canada. (April 6, 2020). Indigenous Community Support Fund.
– Government of British Columbia. (April 3, 2020). List of COVID-19 Essential Services.

National Indigenous Languages Day

Thank you to all the Elders, knowledge keepers, speakers, and language learners working to revitalize, maintain and strengthen Indigenous languages.

Whether you are just beginning or an expert, your efforts represent the strength of Indigenous languages, cultures, and traditions, despite colonial policies designed to silence them.

Language resources

FirstVoices (First Peoples’ Cultural Council) – a suite of web-based tools and services designed to support Indigenous people engaged in language archiving, language teaching and cultural revitalization.

Apps for Learning an Indigenous Language (Animikii) – a list of 30 language apps to supplement language learning.

Indigenous Languages of British Columbia (Government of British Columbia) – curriculum packages developed for grades 5 to 12

BC has the largest diversity of Indigenous languages in Canada

Leslie Varley and CBC Radio: What COVID-19 means for urban Indigenous communities

March 27, 2020

“First Nations communities are bracing for what will happen if COVID-19 reaches their doors. Some have declared their own states of emergency, and are banning outsiders to prevent COVID-19 from infecting their communities.

But it is impossible to capture the full picture of Indigenous health in Canada without looking at urban Indigenous communities. 

More than 60 per cent of Indigenous people in Canada live off-reserve. Many urban Indigenous organizations worry the people they serve are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, and could fall through the cracks. 

Leslie Varley, the executive director of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres, spoke to The Sunday Edition‘s host Michael Enright about what COVID-19 means for urban Indigenous people.”

Listen to the full interview here

Leslie Varley speaks on CBC Radio, March 27, 2020