Red Lake Friendship Centre
1 Legion Road
Red Lake, ON
About the Centre
The Red Lake Indian Friendship Centre (RLIFC) is one of the "original six" Friendship Centres in Ontario, founded in 1964 and incorporated on June 7, 1971 (becoming a registered charity in 1976). The RLIFC is also a founding member of the Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres (OFIFC) which was incorporated in 1971. Its founding directors are: Larry Bruce Killens, Marjorie Ann Pasloski, John Kristberg Johannesson, Emma Kemble, Stella keast, Raymond Mason, Jimmy James Keesic, and John Lusted McEwen.
In 1964, the young Native people of Red Lake organised the District Indian Youth Club, which developed into the RLIFC. The District Youth Club catered to its membership's recreational and social needs. It soon became evident that the Club was making a positive impact on the community, being called upon to provide a variety of services to the Native and non-Native community, business and government agencies.
During its initial development the RLIFC experienced all the growing pains that any new organisation encounters including social barriers such as racism which hindered the Centre's development. Securing a facility was the first major undertaking by the RLIFC's Board of Directors.
In 1968, the original Board of Directors was formed with fifteen members establishing the RLIFC. Their work centered around the development of the constitution and By-laws. Funding for short term projects was provided and, in 1972 Core funding for the operations was granted.
In 1975, with a $30,000 donation from Miles for Millions, the RLIFC was able to purchase land and a building (constructed in 1937) which required major renovations. From 1976 to present, the RLIFC continues to expand its human resources, programming and funding base.
In the late 1980's the Centre realised that it would need to replace the building and a Capital Expansion Project began. The RLIFC entered into an agreement with the Ontario Government to build a facility for the RLIFC Community Resource Centre Program (incarcerated Aboriginal offenders), which took place in the early 1990's. Management functions also developed with an in-depth review of the Corporation By-Laws taking place in 1990.
In 1991, the Board of Directors undertook a comprehensive study of goals, objectives and programs, culminating in a five-year strategic plan - which led to the development of a Mission Statement, further development and implementation of policies and procedures, a Board orientation manual and an improved approach to service delivery and staffing. The Board also examined their independence from the provincial and National Association of Friendship Centres.
After much thought and debate a decision was made in 1995 to rejoin the NAFC. Further discussion resulted in a 1999 decision to rejoin the OFIFC. Funding provided through the OFIFC enhanced the services the RLIFC could make available to the community and challenged the capabilities of the building. In addition, the Board of Directors and management staff examined alternatives for funding and gave serious consideration to self-sufficiency. Eventually the old building began to have plumbing and electrical problems that just weren't fixable. In 1998, the old building was demolished and the RLIFC temporarily relocated to facility they owned on Forestry Road and the Capital construction began.
On November 5, 1999 the RLIFC held their Grand Opening for the new Centre located on the old site. In October 2000, the RLIFC undertook the next step in their journey, the establishment and Grand Opening of the Red Lake Training & Conference Centre. Funding was received from the Ontario Aboriginal Economic Development Program for Capital and Business expansion. The Training & Conference Centre offers a facility and Conference Co-ordinator to any individual, business or agency that would like to hold their meeting or mini conference event on a rental or fee for service basis.
A mortgage burning ceremony took place on November 5, 2003. A major portion of the funding for this project came from the Ministry of Citizenship through the OFIFC. In kind donations from the local mining community, Human Resources & Skills Development (HRDC) and Shooniiyaa Wa - Biidoong projects and fund raising conducted by the RLIFC kept the mortgage manageable.
The Red Lake Training & Conference Centre operations cease to exist in June 2010 in order to accommodate the growing space needs of an expanding Centre. In September of 2010 the Centre entered into a partnership agreement with the Red Lake District High School to operate an Alternative School. This is proving to be beneficial to students and the relationship between the two organisations, teachers and administrators is a very positive one.
Aims and Objectives
- To provide a gathering place for the Aboriginal people of the Red Lake area;
- To provide a drop-in centre for people passing through Red Lake from Northern Reserves;
- To provide a setting where Aboriginal people can learn to plan and execute their own social, recreational and cultural activities;
- To provide translation, referral and limited counseling services to the Aboriginal people of the Red Lake area as well as those passing through Red Lake;
- To provide programs geared to helping the Aboriginal person adjust to urban life and to retain a sense of identity in a new environment;
- To provide a place where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people can meet and discuss mutual concerns;
- To be non-sectarian in religious matters and non-partisan in political matters;
- To be an autonomous community based organisation run for and by Aboriginal people;
- To promote human resource and economic development for Aboriginal people;
- To maintain non-profit charitable status;
- To work with local municipal officials, provincial/federal government officials and local service agencies to ensure that Aboriginal points of view and issues are presented and dealt with; and
- To be an advocate for Aboriginal people.
To ensure that a community directed organisation is working to improve the quality of life for Red Lake's First Peoples and their descendants by promoting traditional values such as unity, sharing, respect, honesty, caring, and spirituality through social, recreational and cultural activities.
Programs and Services
Akwe:go, Alternative Secondary School, Apatisiwin, Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, Child Nutrition/Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, Community Action Program for Children, Community Wellness, Criminal Courtwork, Healthy Babies Healthy Children, Heath Outreach, Life Long Care, Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living, and, Wasa-Nabin.
Through its programs and services the RLIFC provides funeral liaison, lunches and memorial services, and food bank (community sponsored).