The Grande Prairie Friendship Centre will have to make an adjustment, as the Mamewpitaw program will not receive funding from Children’s Services.
President Len Auger says there are a couple of things to think about when it comes to the potential loss of the program.
“The news is devastating to us because we’ve had this program in place for the last 12 years and it’s a very successful program for Indigenous people that utilize it in Grande Prairie. Over the years, we’ve had a lot of involvement from different families. The intent of the program is to try and keep Indigenous families together. It can be especially helpful to families who are experiencing problems, single parent issues, and mother and father issues,” he says.
Auger is not encouraged by the way the non-profit organization has been treated and is asking questions.
“When you look at Truth and Reconciliation and the Calls to Action, we referenced these in our conversation with the government. We’re challenging the system in a way, making sure that the Alberta government and child services take a good look at the Calls to Action and how they can apply it to programs that are offered to Indigenous people,” he says.
Auger didn’t mince words, as he feels that this is another promise broken to Indigenous people.
“It’s very concerning. Everyone reads into the situation differently. People in leadership roles may not have the right education or intent on knowing how to honour those Calls to Action for any decision that is made with regard to Indigenous people. There needs to be more of a mandate in place for decisions,” he says.
Specifically, Auger pointed to the first Call to Action with regard to child welfare.
“Providing adequate resources to enable Aboriginal communities and child-welfare organizations to keep Aboriginal families together where it is safe to do so and to keep children in culturally appropriate environments, regardless of where they reside. We’ve passed accreditation every year until now, it doesn’t make sense” he adds.
Auger adds that the Friendship Centre is exploring other avenues to keep the program running, but that uncertain times could be ahead. The funding helps provide staff as well.