OTTAWA, May 24, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is disappointed in the lack of response and support for Friendship Centres responding to climate emergencies. Every year Friendship Centres across Canada face the impacts of climate change and need to respond to flooding, wildfires, and other climate-related emergencies. For each emergency, Friendship Centres are there to respond and support in community driven and culturally relevant ways. Financial support for Friendship Centres’ emergency planning and response is crucial in the immediate responses
Indigenous Emergency Management funding for on-reserve is not available to urban Indigenous communities or organizations who take in evacuees from on-reserve communities providing shelter, food, personal hygiene supplies, daycare, while expanding their programs and services to accommodate the influx of people. Friendship Centres are forced to rely on donations and take from other programs that are already underfunded to draw immediate supports. Further, Friendship Centres are often in a position of having to wait for funders to agree to move funds from intended purposes to emergency response, thereby further delaying the ability to move quickly.
Funding for shelters and emergency services continues to be reactive rather than preventative. Friendship Centres need consistent funding for emergency management in order to support evacuees in host communities. Wrangling between the Federal and Provincial emergency management jurisdiction impacts Friendship Centres ability to respond to community and evacuee needs in times of crisis.
Currently, Friendship Centres in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories are responding to the needs arising from wildfires. Hay River, NT was evacuated to Yellowknife with the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Council of Friendship Centres (NT/NU) stating with the influx of evacuees, they require around $50,000 to help supply evacuees with gift cards. The Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan has stated there are over 15,000 evacuees with immediate needs of fuel, accommodations, and food. In Alberta, Friendship Centres are acting as evacuation shelters.
Friendship Centres are a lifeline to many outside of emergency situation, even more so during emergencies, and they require emergency response funding to be prepared to respond immediately.
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The National Association of Friendship Centres is a national network of Indigenous-owned and operated civil society, not-for-profit, and service delivery organizations across Canada. The NAFC was established in 1972 to represent a growing number of Friendship Centres at the national level. Acting as a unifying body for the Friendship Centre Movement, the NAFC represents a network of over 100 Friendship Centres and Provincial-Territorial Associations across Canada.
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