The Native Friendship Centre of Montreal (NFCM) is a non-profit, non-sectarian, autonomous community development agency in existence since 1974 whose principal mission is to promote, develop, and enhance the quality of life in the Urban Aboriginal community of Montreal. The NFCM, being a part of a regional and national initiative that bridges the gap between 2 cultures, serves the Aboriginal population consisting of the ten (10) First Nations of Quebec, as well as the Inuit and Métis of Montreal. The ten First Nations of Quebec include the Cree, Mi’qmaq, Naskapi, Algonquin, Montagnais, Abenaki, Mohawk, Attikamekw, Huron and Malecite. NFCM provides the services as an urban Aboriginal centre, where people migrating to or in transition from across Québec come to seek temporary shelter, support , and referral services in Montreal. NFCM provides translation services to Justice Québec for several First Nations languages and is also a member of the PTA (Provincial-Territorial Association) RCAAQ (Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtone du Québec) as well as the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC).
The Native Friendship Centre of Montreal, through its programs and services aims to uplift the quality of life of the Urban Aboriginal population of Montreal. The NFCM aims to provide direct services of food, clothing, shelter, referral, counseling, intervention, medical services, support, referral, and accompaniment to homeless or at-risk clients. To safeguard their health conditions, social services, legal, justice, etc. and to assist these individuals in the achievement of their dignity and their quality of life,the outreach workers respond to the needs of homeless or at-risk individuals and families by assisting them with medical and legal accompaniment, de-tox referral, ID replacements, social assistance application, low-cost housing/apartment search, access to a hot lunch program, food and clothing depot as well as inter-agency referrals.
NFCM is in its 35th year of operation as a Friendship Centre and is the only service, resource, and referral centre on the island of Montreal with the mandate to serve urban Aboriginal people, their families, and those in need of assistance or referral on health concerns, cultural aspects, and a source of basic necessities for Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals.
The NFCM operates three (3) flagship projects to serve the Aboriginal population of Montreal:
1. Day Centre: NFCM is situated in the city of Montreal in close proximity to the downtown area. Thus, clients who are visiting the centre on the daily basis are typically homeless, at risk of homelessness, or are living on a very low-income. NFCM serves Native and non-Native people living in the city as well as those in transition through Montreal and serves as a central reference point for those new to the urban environment. This clientele goes to NFCM ‘centre de jour’ for a light breakfast, hot lunch, laundry, shower, food bank, clothing depot, Internet access, TV, culture and recreational activities, in-house medical clinic, access to the Inter-Tribal Youth Centre, monthly supper, and to be in a group. NFCM does not discriminate and serves all in need regardless of Native or non-Native status.
2. Street Patrol: The Ka’wahse Street Patrol targets an estimated base of 580 homeless Natives on downtown Montreal streets who do not utilize the services of the day centre due to illness or mobility issues. A mobile nurse provides primary care services on the street patrol once a week and works closely with in-house medical staff to track and monitor the progress of certain individuals.
3. ITYC (Inter-Tribal Youth Centre): The Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centre (UMAYC) is a national initiative under the supervision of the NFCM. It is an Aboriginal Youth centre based at the NFCM Building. Also known as the Inter-Tribal Youth Centre of Montreal (ITYC), the ITYC focuses on providing fun, safe, healthy environment to support and empower urban First Nations and Inuit youth. UMAYC provides culturally based programming, aimed at enhancing the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being of the youth. Programming and activities focus on Native culture and heritage with the aim to enhancing and developing leadership abilities and community engagement.
NFCM encourages culturally relevant events, activities, recreational activities, and programming. The NFCM maintains a presence at the annual McGill Pow Wow and Ville de Montréal ‘Festival Presence Autochtone’. Regular traditional drumming, healing circles, and beading are provided weekly as part of its commitment to maintaining traditional culture and heritage. NFCM staff also engage in cultural sensitivity training to high school, CEGEP students, or members of the general public who are interested in finding out more about Native culture and heritage.
NFCM maintains a set of partnership arrangements in order to address the diverse needs of our clientele such as MDM (Médecins du Monde), McGill Faculty of Medicine (CHAP) Community Health Alliance Program, SPAQ (Services parajudiciaires autochtones du Québec), Reseau de Pédiatrie Sociale, FNHRDCQ (First Nations Human Resource Development Commission of Québec), Justice Québec, Québec Public Health Department, SPVM (Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal), ROJAQ-EMU (Regroupement des organismes de justice alternative du Québec), PAQ (Projet Autochtone du Québec, Native Women’s Shelter.
The NFCM is partnered with Médecins du Monde (MDM) who provide staffing for an in-house medical clinic (nurse weekly and doctor monthly) to provide first aid, diagnosis, treatment, referral, and follow-up for those clients lacking proper ID or wishing to maintain confidentiality. A street patrol nurse also accompanies outreach workers on a weekly basis to provide medical services to those clients on the streets who may not use the services of the day centre due to mobility.
The NFCM also collaborates with McGill University Faculty of Medicine under the Community Health Alliance Program (CHAP) aimed at providing frontline experience and exposure to first year medical students by allowing them to work side by side our Street Patrol outreach workers as well as providing the opportunity for information sharing and coaching with our in-house medical staff (MDM). On health concerns, NFCM addresses its programs to at-risk clients while our outreach workers accompany and refer them to health clinics and hospitals in addition to providing emergency transport capability.
The NFCM has been part of the consultative planning (2001) and research program on Homelessness Profiles which was further published as a summary report entitled “Homelessness among First Nations, Inuit and Métis: A summary report of findings” (2002). In 2003, the pilot project “Montreal Urban Aboriginal Homelessness Pilot Project” has been implemented under the funding of the HRDC. We regularly collaborate with academic staff of different universities and other NGOs for the purposes of research and education. Most recently (2008) we have entered into an agreement in principle with CAAN (Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network) to participate in a pilot study aimed at Aboriginal women who are victims of sexual violence. A TB research study partnership with McGill Faculty of Medicine (Montreal Children’s Hospital) was also entered with results to be published in 2009. The results of this study will be used to determine future projects related to addressing the issue of TB in the Aboriginal community.
2001 boul. St-Laurent
Montreal, QC H2X 2T3