Government of Canada:Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians (OFI) Community Development Society Conference July, 2009
2 What is OFI? The role of the Federal Interlocutor was created in 1985 to provide a point of first contact and advocate between the Government of Canada and National Aboriginal Organizations who represent Métis and Non-Status Indians to discuss their priority issues. OFI works with Métis, Non-Status Indians and urban Aboriginal organizations, private sector, philanthropic groups, as well as provincial and municipal governments to find practical ways to improve life choices for Métis, Non-Status Indians and urban Aboriginal people.
The Canadian Aboriginal population is becoming increasingly urban. In 2006, 54% of the Aboriginal population lived in an urban centre, an increase from 49% in 1996.
A total of 291,035 Aboriginal people, or 25% of the total Aboriginal population lived in 9 census metropolitan areas in 2006. British Columbia is home to 17% of Canada’s Aboriginal population.
Socio-economic conditions of the off-reserve population are only slightly better than those of the on-reserve population and remain worse than the conditions of the non-Aboriginal population.
Socio-Economic Conditions Over half (54%) of Canada’s Aboriginal population live in cities. Too many face difficult socio-economic conditions:
Low rates of educational attainment:
- High school completion gap between Aboriginal and other Canadians living in cities widened from 2X to 3X between 1981-2001.
High rates of unemployment, poverty, homelessness, crime and incarceration:
50% of Aboriginal children living in Prairie cities are living in poverty;
Prairie-based gangs have reached crisis proportions in major urban centres.
Aboriginal people in Toronto comprise less than 1% of the population but represent 25% of the homeless population. 40% of Aboriginal children in cities are being raised in lone-parent families – 1 out of 4 Aboriginal women in Winnipeg aged 15-29 is a single parent. Yet, urbanization is an irresistible phenomenon that offers tremendous opportunities unavailable/unmatched elsewhere.
Federal Government Investments The Government of Canada has invested in a variety of Urban Aboriginal programs and services including: Aboriginal Friendship Centres Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres Aboriginal Headstart Aboriginal Human Resource Development Strategy Aboriginal Justice Strategy Urban Aboriginal Homelessness Initiative Urban Aboriginal Strategy 5
6 Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) In 1997, the Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS) was developed to address the influx of Aboriginal people living in Canada’s urban centers. Implementation of UAS focuses on a small number of designated communities, this allows departments, provincial ministries, other stakeholders and the urban Aboriginal community to work closely on community identified issues. Flexible funding made available to a community helps respond to community identified needs and facilitates partnerships Due to the unique approach of the UAS, Government/Community partnership, UAS was renewed for another 5 years (2007 -2012) with specific focus on three priority areas to improve economic participation of urban Aboriginal people: Supporting Aboriginal Women, Children and Families; Promoting Job Skills Training and Entrepreneurship and Improving Life skills.
7 The Community – Prince George Prince George is a city of 71,000 situated at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako Rivers in central British Columbia
The local economy has been dependent on the forestry and plywood manufacturing with numerous saw and pulp mills as major employers
Mining exploration and development are emerging as the future employment trend
Local residents require skill development and job training to take advantage of these new opportunities
There are 8,085 people who identify as Aboriginal or 11% of the population; 68.8% are 15 years or older.
Elder Involvement “It was good seeing everybody work together and communicate together.“ “As a young Elder I learned from listening to People…” “I came back a happier person.” Participant Quotes, Elders Camp August 2008 9
Encouraging Youth “I enjoyed the weekend. I met new people and learned the names of people that I’ve always seen and never spoken to.” “Laughter really helped.” “We were so uplifted.” Participant Quotes, Elders Camp August 2008 10
BuildingRelationships "First off, you have to remember not to ever take anything personal at the table. Second thing, remember that we really love to fight." Committee Member, September 2008 --- "Facilitated to the level where we felt hopeful as we were moved to identify “do able” and immediate goals on our way to really working together!" "Friendly and good feeling of cooperation." Participant Quotes, Partners Forum Jan 21-22, 2009 11
Celebration & Feasting “FOOD! Nobody went hungry, the food was delicious.” “I haven’t seen a smokehouse in 20+ years.” Participant Quotes, Elders Camp August 2008 --- “I enjoyed the music and dancing.” Participant Quotes, March 2008 12