History & Mission
The Friendship Centre was brought into concept in 1971. After many meetings with the community resources and service clubs, a Board of Directors was established consisting of professional and business people from within the Fort Frances District as well as the First Nations communities. Official incorporation took place in January 1973 and the official opening of the building occurred in May 1973. This was the birth of the United Native Friendship Centre in Fort Frances. In January 1991, the Centre moved into a brand new building which is now the main building located at 516 Portage Avenue. In the fall of 2000, a second building was purchased in order to accommodate the ever-growing programs and staff. Both buildings are within one block of each other and are easily accessible to everyone who utilizes the Friendship Centre programs. In 2004 a third building was purchased at 308 Butler Avenue which houses our Zaagi’idiwin Aboriginal Headstart program.
Since its early beginnings, the Centre has grown from two to nineteen programs which are housed in three buildings in Fort Frances. Within the current programs are mini-programs and support staff that provides services over and above the mandates of each individual program.
We now have sixty-five members and seven Board members. This however, does not reflect the other resources that are vital to the Centre. We have Elders who provide the cultural and spiritual teachings and many professional resources that give advice and direction to the Centre staff as it is needed. As well, we have formed other links to Aboriginal agencies in our community. We have created partnerships with community service providers and have representation on boards and committees. This process creates excellent communication and strong networking of services. All of these resources are required so the Centre can maintain the four primary functions of counseling, education, social and cultural development that was outlined during our formative years.
In 2011, the United Native Friendship Centre celebrated a very productive and successful 40 years of service in our community. This is the result of community effort, outstanding staff and a dedicated Board of Directors. We look forward to many more years of growth and development.
In recognition of the ever-changing world in which we live the United Native Friendship Centre is dedicated to enhancing the lives of Native and non-Native people in our community and surrounding area. Its primary responsibility is to serve Aboriginal people with special services in the fields of social, educational, and cultural development, while, at the same time, building a bridge of understanding between Native and non-Native people.