The Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre is trying to join the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) in the near future and after that the National Association of Friendship Centres.
“I think it’s really critical that we are members of the BC Association and I fully expect that we will be accepted as members,” said Rob Diether, the centre’s program host and coordinator.
Diether said the matter will be brought up at the BCAAFC’s meeting on July 5 and believes they will consider the Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre’s request, where afterwards a formal application with supporting documentation demonstrating that they are actually running as a friendship centre will be handed over.
BCAAFC was founded to establish and maintain a link between provincial friendship centres and the national organization and to advise and create a dialogue with government agencies, such as programs that may help Indigenous people in the province.
For a friendship centre to join the provincial body, they must have existed for a year and contribute regularly to the community they are located in. A centre must also work with multiple organizations throughout its service area.
July 17 will signify the Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre’s third year of operation.
With three years of operating already, Diether said that the centre was too busy with the day-to-day running of the centre to put anything together. He also said the centre wasn’t clear on what the process was to become a member of the provincial body until now.
“Being a member of the B.C. association I think will qualify us for better core-funding, which is really what this centre needs to continue operating,” said Diether.
He also believes being a member would be a good credential to have, especially when it comes to any sort of governmental dealings, such as the centre’s rejected proposal to the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs for a sufficient budget to run the centre for a year.
“It was turned down on the basis that we weren’t members of the B.C. association, so it’s just taking all this time to gather that,” said Diether.
The proposal would have covered the core-funding the centre would need to hire some staff, such as an executive director to help with programming and look for other sources of funding.
Without an executive director, the Stemete7uw’i Friendship Centre’s programming has been focused on culture but he said if they manage to get the funding for an executive director, the centre could bring into more social-focused programs and counselling and drawing in more youth.
“Expanded program would certainly include a youth program and that scene is very important,” said Diether.
If the request to become a member of the association is successful, Diether said they will resend the proposal to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada again.
One thing the centre is looking to do once they receive any type of core funding is moving to a bigger place.
“Our present location is a wonderful, warm and has a nice atmosphere to it but it is only one room. With just one room we are limited. It would be nice to have three or four rooms where we’re able to have offices and have counselling and different services in the building,” said Diether.
The current location, located behind St. Timothy Anglican Church off of Horse Lake Road, is also quite the walking distance from downtown 100 Mile House. Diether said he expects that if they were in the downtown area, the centre would be more well-used.