NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Friendship centre recognized
Fort Simpson facility receives national award for excellence

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, September 5, 2013

The friendship centre in Fort Simpson has been recognized on a national level for the work it is doing.

NNSL photo/graphic

The Deh Cho Friendship Centre in Fort Simpson was one of 17 centres across Canada to receive an outstanding friendship centre award from the National Association of Friendship Centres. Aaron McNab, the centre's executive director, accepted the award on the centre's behalf this summer. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

The Deh Cho Friendship Centre was one of 17 centres across Canada to receive an outstanding friendship centre award. The awards were presented during the National Association of Friendship Centres' (NAFC) annual general meeting in North Battleford, Sask., on July 24.

This is the first year the awards have been given on a national level, said Virginia Gluska, the NAFC's program officer for the Aboriginal Friendship Centre Program (AFCP). Staff with the funding program developed the idea to create the awards.

"Friendship centres are very diverse and very community-based," said Gluska.

"There are a lot of friendship centres that are doing a lot of amazing things in their community. We wanted to acknowledge these centres that are exceptional."

Seventeen awards were given to centres that have shown excellence in all areas of programming, community support, financial management, board stability and partnerships. Each province or territory nominated two centres, except for Ontario, which nominated three. The Northwest Territories/Nunavut Council of Friendship Centres nominated the Deh Cho Friendship Centre and the Tree of Peace Friendship Centre in Yellowknife from the NWT for the awards.

"It was a very good sense of accomplishment," said Aaron McNab, the executive director of the friendship centre in Fort Simpson, about accepting the award on behalf of the centre.

The friendship centre also won an outstanding friendship centre award.

McNab said the centre has been doing well both financially and with its programs for awhile, in part because of the amount of experience he has in the friendship centre movement. McNab has worked at the centre for 12 years and is familiar with the AFCP.

The centre also has a stable senate with long-standing members who provide direction for the centre. Percy Hardisty, the chair of the senate, is one of the founding members of the Fort Simpson centre. Other senate members include Lorayne Menicoche-Moses, Emma Amundson and Billy Villeneuve.

The centre was incorporated as a society in 1979.

The centre runs a number of programs throughout the year, the primary one being Cultural Connections for Aboriginal Youth. Through the program, the centre offers after-school and evening activities including handgames practices, traditional sewing and arts and crafts, as well as a summer employment program for youth. A youth committee helps guide the youth programming for the year.

"I always look at it as providing an opportunity for personal and community development," McNab said about the centre. He added that during the school year, approximately 15 people, mostly between the ages of 14 and 24, use the centre's gym on a daily basis. Another six or so younger youths stay on the centre's first floor where they use the computers and sometimes watch movies or play video games. It's a healthy, safe environment for people to be a part of.

The centre also assists other community organizations with their programs and events and runs a food bank and a Christmas hamper program, among other things.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.