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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

March 2020: Connecting online during physical distancing

Thank you to all the frontline workers and every community member doing their part to take care of one another during the challenges we are facing with COVID-19. The community efforts during this time have been heart-warming amid the concern and uncertainty we are all feeling.

Physical (social) distancing and isolation affect everyone’s mental health and emotional well-being in different ways. It’s important to check-in with yourself and others during this time and reach-out for additional support when needed.

Education plays a key role in the health and safety of our communities; nonetheless, the continuous cycle of COVID-19 updates can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are many organizations and individuals utilizing the power of social media to share online content that adds some light to the time indoors.  

We’ve compiled a list of resources for people to access from home, inspired by ImagineNATIVE.

This list is only a snapshot of some of the recommendations we’ve come across, please share a few of your own!

Participate in live streamed classes and events

Artists putting talents online to counter ‘this time of fear’ (APTN National News, March 19, 2020)

Canadian Roots Exchange (CRE) Online Programming 

Indigenous educators volunteer to teach short K-8 lessons online amid school closures

I·SPARC FitNation Channel—Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere! Take a movement break with I·SPARC.

‘Wellness Kitchen’ classes with Mission Friendship Centre Society Community Health Worker, Danya: Live videos every Wednesday at 2PM

Yale’s most popular class ever is available free online – and the topic is how to be happier in your daily life

Explore Indigenous film and media

Indigenous Cinema, National Film Board of Canada

If Not Us Then Who?: Short documentary stories from Indigenous communities in Indonesia, South America, and parts of Africa.

Mino Bimaadiziwin: Short film by Shane McSauby

nîpawistomâsowin: We Will Stand Up – Tasha Hubbard

One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk – Zacharias Kunuk

The Power Was With Us: Idle No More: Two-part docuseries, stream on APTN Lumi (5-day free trial)

Whale Rider: 15th Anniversary Edition

Learn from Indigenous motivational speakers

Anthony Johnson and Dr. James Makokis – The Amazing Race Canada S7

Dr. James Makokis – Two-Spirit Rites of Passage

Dr. Evan Adams – What’s Your Story

Grace Dove – WE Day Vancouver

Dr. Nel Wieman and Dr. Martin Guhn – Child-Wellbeing Through an Indigenous Lens

Nikki Fraser

Waneek Horn-Miller – Keynote address at Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness 2018

Appreciate Indigenous musicians and entertainers

Brandon Peters

Corey Allison Music

Dani and Lizzy

DJ O Show

DoZy & NWK

Kiva Morgan-Hall

RedPath Talent

The Melawmen Collective

Read work by Indigenous authors

2020 New Releases by Indigenous Authors (Raven Reads, 2020)

Peace and Good Order – Harold Johnson

Seven Fallen Feathers – Tanya Talaga

Trickster Drift – Eden Robinson

Starlight – Richard Wagamese

The Cheyenne Story: An Interpretation of Courage – Gerry Robinson

The Marrow Thieves – Cherie Dimaline

Subscribe to Indigenous podcasts

Ahkameyimok – National Chief Perry Bellegarde

All My Relations – Matika Wilbur, Adrienne Keene

MEDIA INDIGENA – Rick Harp, Candis Callison, Brock Pitawanakwat, Kim TallBear, Kenneth T. Williams

Red Man Laughing – Ryan McMahon

Teachings in The Air – Elder Gerry Oldman

The Secret Life of Canada – CBC Podcasts with Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson

What’s Up At Wachiay? – Rob Crowston (Wachiay Friendship Centre Society)

Watch live streamed musical performances 

Covid-19: Free online concerts by world-famous classical music venues (TheStar, March 17, 2020)

Music in the time of COVID-19: live performances you can stream from home (CBC, March 17, 2020)

Virtually tour museums and galleries

Google Arts & Culture lets you virtually tour museums and galleries around the world, similar to the Google Maps Street View feature!

Royal BC Museum Webinars: Streamed live on Zoom and the museum’s Facebook page. Check the event calendar for upcoming webinars!

  • RBCM@Home – designed for youth and adults
  • RBCM@Home (Kids) – like an online museum playdate
  • RBCM@Outside – a themed virtual fieldtrip to local destinations that are rich inhistory

Wally Samuel and Marjorie White recognized at Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council AGM

The BCAAFC Elders Council members are known for their commitment to helping others

Read the Ha-Shilth-Sa article here: Know where you come from: Nuu-chah-nulth members recognized for commitment to their nations

The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council’s annual general meeting (AGM) was hosted by Ahousaht on September 25, 2019. Several community members were recognized for their knowledge sharing, advocacy, and leadership, including Wally Samuel and Marjorie White.

Wally Samuel has been involved with the Port Alberni Friendship Centre since 1980, helping Indigenous people living off-reserve in Port Alberni access culturally relevant services and support resources. Wally spoke about the issue of homelessness at the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council AGM and the work being done to create an Ahousaht housing society in Port Alberni.

Marjorie (Marge) White is a founding member of the Friendship Centre Movement in British Columbia. She has received the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada for her outstanding contributions towards improving the lives of others. Marge says she never forgets where she came from and the greatest reward is to be recognized by her own people.

Marge and Wally are members of the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres Elders Council. We are honoured to have their guidance and congratulate them on their achievements.

Mental Health & Wellness Engagement Sessions

The BCAAFC has secured funding from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions (MMHA) to conduct engagement sessions with service providers and service users in each Friendship Centre. These sessions will map existing wellness programs and identify program strengths, gaps and emerging priorities.

Sessions are currently underway. Here is a look at upcoming engagement sessions:

October 2, Port Alberni Friendship Centre

October 4, Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre (Smithers)

October 8, Quesnel Friendship Society

October 10, Cariboo Friendship Society (Williams Lake)

October 29, Sacred Wolf Friendship Centre (Port Hardy)

October 30, Wachiay Friendship Centre (Courtenay)

November 13, Ooknakane Friendship Centre (Penticton)

November 14, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Centre (Kelowna)

November 15, North Okanagan Friendship Centre Society (Vernon)

November 25, Conayt Friendship Centre (Merritt)

November 27, Lillooet Friendship Centre

November 28, Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society

December 4, Mission Friendship Centre

Please connect with your Friendship Centre for more details regarding the time and location of each session.

Ooknakane Friendship Centre | Just Like Paula Says

Penticton, B.C. — Ooknakane Friendship Centre (OFC) Mental Health and Addictions Program provides counselling services for anxiety, stress, family conflict, and addiction.

OFC is one of 25 Friendship Centres located in BC. Friendship Centres are a place for guidance and support, emphasizing respect and compassion for one another in the delivery of their programs and services. Together, Friendship Centres see approximately 4,500 clients each week.

Just Like Paula Says describes Christopher McGowan’s experience with OFC Mental Health and Addictions Counselor, Paula Jacobs. Paula listened to Christopher and became an inspiration for him on his path to personal growth.

Today, Christopher provides peer support at OFC, among other roles, and helps others progress on their own journey.

Watch the documentary short film:

Just Like Paula Says – Christopher McGowan’s Journey from Lydia Frederick on Vimeo.

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres Announces New Board of Directors

July 2019 (VICTORIA, BC) – The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) elected three new board members with eight remaining on the board at the 2019 Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Williams Lake on July 6, 2019.

The BCAAFC welcomes three new board members to the board:

  1. Carol Camille, Lillooet Friendship Centre Society
  2. Tami Omeasoo, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society
  3. Kerry Chelsea, Cariboo Friendship Society.

We thank our past board members: Victor Tom from Kamloops Aboriginal Friendship Society for serving as our Treasurer, and Kari Hutchison from Victoria Native Friendship Centre and Richard Samuel from Port Alberni Friendship Centre for serving as directors. We appreciate our continuing board members:

  1. President: Dr. Sharon McIvor, Conayt Friendship Society
  2. Vice-President: Elijah Mack, Conayt Friendship Society
  3. Treasurer: Joanne Mills, Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association
  4. Secretary: Cal Albright, Kermode Friendship Society
  5. Youth Representative: Shyla Elgie, Prince George Native Friendship Centre
  6. Debbie Williams, Hiiye’yu Lelum (House of Friendship Society)
  7. Matthew Baran, Ooknakane Friendship Centre
  8. Fabian Alexis, North Okanagan Friendship Centre Society

Composition of New Board of Directors:

President – Dr. Sharon McIvor, Conayt Friendship Society*

Vice-President – Elijah Mack, Conayt Friendship Society

Secretary –  Calvin Albright, Kermode Friendship Society*

Treasurer – Joanne Mills, Fraser Region Aboriginal Friendship Centre

Youth Representative – Shyla Elgie, Prince George Native Friendship Centre*

Director – Matthew Baran, Ooknakane Friendship Centre*

Director – Debbie Williams, Hiiye’yu Lelum (House of Friendship)*

Director – Fabian Alexis, North Okanagan Friendship Centre Society

Director – Carol Camille, Lillooet Friendship Centre Society

Director – Kerry Chelsea, Cariboo Friendship Society

Director – Tami Omeasoo, Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society

*Indicates Board members who are serving their second year on the board.

Always in Friendship,
Leslie Varley
Executive Director, BCAAFC

What’s Up at Wachiay – multimedia for Friendship Centres

Wachiay Aboriginal Multimedia (WaMM), working out of the Wachiay Friendship Centre in Courtenay, BC, is now podcasting!

“We intend to develop and air podcasts devoted to the stories, celebrations, programs, people, culture and goals of the Friendship Centre Movement across Canada.”

A few weeks ago we launched our first in-house produced podcast: ‘What’s Up at Wachiay’ – a weekly chat with our staff about their programs and services.  We intend to develop and air podcasts devoted to the stories, celebrations, programs, people, culture and goals of the Friendship Centre Movement across Canada. Our youth, staff and Elders will host podcasts where they speak with their fellow Friendship Centre colleagues across Canada about “What’s Up at Their Friendship Centre”. We want to create a national outlet that represents the voices of Friendship Centres.  We’ll even be podcasting live from this summer’s Music Fest here in Courtenay.

So, what is a podcast? Quite simply, it’s a conversation. Like an old school radio talk show, but without rules, restraints or commercials. A host speaks with guests about a topic, story, event, similar interests and an interview or friendly discussion is the end product. We get to listen. And listen we do! The respected publication Fast Company found that in 2018 there were over 525,000 active shows and over 18.5 million podcast episodes!

Podcasts have sky rocketed! So much so that major players like Apple and Soundcloud have jumped into these turbulent waters with both feet.

WaMM intends to take full advantage of this medium with our Community Podcast Centre. When Wachiay purchased our building it came with a fully functioning FM radio station previously known as The JET. Our facilities include a master control room, a professional audio/video production studio, a two person voice-over booth, a five station student work room and a three seated soundproof broadcast room – just like you see on TV! We deliver classes and workshops that cover the full gamut of basic multimedia production including recording, lighting, cameras, mics, editing software and most importantly – writing. Everything starts with a script!

In the planning stages, and soon to go live, will be a podcast series based on the work of a local novelist; a series based on integrating Elders experience and practical advice to youth under duress; a series featuring environmental challenges and changes in our communities; and a podcast devoted to the creative Indigenous arts community here on Vancouver Island. We are even casting for a podcast series featuring traditional children’s stories.

Call or email Rob Crowston at WaMM to talk about what we can create for your Friendship Centre:

Check out our websites: , and to find out more.  

Phone:  778-225-0309  Email:

We look forward to talking with you about how multimedia can spread the word about your Friendship Centre.

BCAAFC President Dr. Sharon McIvor responds to MMIWG Report

Daflos, P., CTV Vancouver, June 3, 2019 – ‘Shameful and disgraceful milestone’: Response to MMIWG report from Vancouver

“‘It’s finally good to have it acknowledged that what’s been happening to us for the last 200 years is genocide,’ said lawyer, activist and professor Sharon McIvor.”

“McIvor says while she’s encouraged to see the report finally come to fruition, it’s going to take a long time to fix the deep systemic inequalities at play.”

Read the final report here – Reclaiming Power and Place: The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls

Gathering Our Voices 2019

Indigenous Youth Leadership Training

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC), the Provincial Youth Aboriginal Council (PAYC) and the Port Alberni Friendship Centre (PAFC) are honoured to host Gathering Our Voices (GOV) 2019 on the traditional territory of the Hupačasath and Tseshaht First Nations. The purpose of the event is to unite youth throughout the country in learning, healing and sharing, and to provide tools, resources and knowledge the youth can bring back to their communities.

In the spirit of bringing people together, the event is hosted in different communities and in partnership with different Friendship Centres each year. This year the Hupačasath and Tseshaht have graciously welcomed our delegates to their territory to share their culture and knowledge, as well as create a legacy that helps GOV grow each year.

The BCAAFC has hosted sixteen Gathering Our Voices, starting with over 100 delegates in communities such as Prince George, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Kamloops, Victoria, Kelowna, Prince Rupert, Penticton and Richmond. Since then, it has grown immensely and continues to grow with the support of the delegates, volunteers, chaperones, facilitators, exhibitors and host communities.

GOV 2019 registration reached capacity within an hour. This overwhelming response of support serves to reinforce the need for a provincial forum where Indigenous youth can come together to being to make positive changes in their lives and in their communities.

We raise our hands and thank you for your continued support as we grow together.

Leslie Varley
Executive Director, BCAAFC