Friendship Centres across Ontario have success stories to share. In this section you can learn about Friendship Centre programs and community driven efforts to improve the lives of urban Indigenous families and communities.
Children and Youth
Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children
A woman who had addictions issues had two children apprehended by CAS with one of those children placed in the care of her mother, the children’s grandmother. As both children were born addicts and required multiple supports, the Aboriginal Healthy Babies Healthy Children program assisted the grandmother with meeting the specific physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of her grandchildren. The children’s mother decided to go to treatment and sought a referral by the AHBHC Program. The mother was in treatment for 6 months and after being discharged, secured housing and has improved her relationship with CAS. Both children are currently involved with specialists including infant development therapists and are reported to be doing well and progressing with very few problems. The AHBHC Program continues to provide support to the mother and grandmother by providing parenting support and referrals.
Children’s Mental Health Project
Two years ago a young girl’s grandmother brought her to the Friendship Centre to find support. She was hurt and angry toward her mother whom at the time, was struggling with addiction issues and recovering from an abusive relationship that had led to the removal of the girl and her brother from the home. She had very little support during this time and began to seek attention in unhealthy ways. The grandmother noticed the behavior and sought support from the Children’s Mental Health Project where the entire family received supportive counselling and where the young girl was provided with healthy coping methods. The mother decided to turn her life and completed her GED. Although still in kinship care, the child is doing much better as the family continues to receive support from the programs offered at the Friendship Centre.
A youth came into the program initially with an issue regarding self-harm and dealing with substance abuse. It took some time to establish a rapport but the youth began to open up. Self-esteem was an area of concern as the youth was quite reserved but began to see success beyond the Wasa-Nabin Program. This young person has received an Aboriginal Award in the community and now provides mentorship to new clients and participants in the Wasa-Nabin Program and at the Friendship Centre.
A youth accessed the Wasa-Nabin Program through a Youth Justice Diversion Program referral. The youth was a first time offender and eligible for diversion under requirements presented by Youth Justice that included a completion of a resume, finding employment and to pay fines to victims. The youth was able to complete his resume, found employment and was able to repay victims through the Wasa-Nabin Program. As a result of meeting his requirements, the charges were withdrawn.
Education to Employment
Homelessness Partnering Strategy
Two men from the Homelessness Partnering Strategy Program were referred to Apatisiwin to receive assistance with resumes and cover letters. The employment counselor worked with the clients and used her employer network to connect the clients with Detour Gold who subsequently hired the clients within a day.
Urban Aboriginal Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder ProgramPresentations on FASD were delivered to the local Police Service over a 6 week period. Police Officers were provided with information on the effects of alcohol when a pregnant woman drinks, the behavioural impacts on people with FASD, and how that relates to involvement with justice and the law. One police officer was recruited to join the local FASD network. The creation of a FASD registry was raised as a tool that would assist Police Officers in identifying members of the community who have FASD.
Healing and Wellness
A woman was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. Prior to having a daughter, she was addicted to heroin and there was involvement with a local child protective services agency. After accessing the Healing and Wellness program, she is now on a Methadone program, has moved from transitional housing to a two bedroom apartment, and completed the requirements of the child protective services agency. She is involved in cultural teachings and activities at the Friendship Centre and has stated that it “feels good to have people in her life”.
Life Long Care
A woman who was blind in her left eye started to lose sight in her right eye. The woman was taken to a specialist who informed her that he could save the sight in her right eye with eye injections, but they were expensive and she would need six treatments in the year. Being unable to afford this, the Life Long Care Program through the Purchase of Client Services, was able to cover the costs of the injections and her sight remains in the right eye to date.
Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program
An archery team was formed in the Friendship Centre’s Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program, and went on to host the Southwestern Ontario First Nation’s Archery Tournament. Numerous First Nations agencies, communities as well as neighbouring Friendship Centres attended to compete in the event. Participants included children, youth and adults in the competition and many fans came out to support their family and friends. It was a learning opportunity for all attendees to learn good sportsmanship, encouragement and be involved in a traditional sport. A youth participant received the Southern Ontario Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (SOADI) Youth Award for outstanding contribution and effort in living a healthy lifestyle.
Space was provided to a client where emotional and spiritual health could be addressed in addition to the physical and mental health needs already being worked on within mainstream health services. This has been transformative not only for the clients of the program but for the community on a whole and has seen participation from the non-aboriginal community, including local police officers. Other program sites work to meet these needs by bringing in Elders and Traditional Healers to work with the clients on a quarterly basis.