National Association of Friendship Centres Responds to Federal Economic Statement: An Economy that Works for Everyone must include Urban Indigenous People


OTTAWA, Nov. 22, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is encouraged by the federal government’s goal to build an “economy that works for everyone” but fears the current plan still leaves out and leaves behind most Indigenous people due to lack of urban-specific Indigenous economic or social strategies and mechanisms. However, Friendship Centres stand ready to be an effective partner with a clear vision for the well-being of communities that we serve.

“The federal government outlined its bold intentions for a better Canada and while there is promise, we are concerned that the initiatives announced in the 2023 Fall Economic Statement or forecasting for the 2024 Budget will not achieve their intended outcome without urban Indigenous strategies,” said Jocelyn Formsma, NAFC CEO, “We are pleased to see the inclusion of the urban, rural, and northern housing initiative, and hope to see similar recognition across other areas, such as early learning and child care, social infrastructure, and employment and labour.”

The Fall Economic Statement reaffirmed the implementation of an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy in a for Indigenous, by Indigenous manner. This is a good step towards recognizing the need for an urban-specific strategy around Indigenous housing, however, we must also ensure that the necessary wrap around and supportive services that come with providing housing is also funded.


The Fall Economic Statement also reported on the record amounts of funds earmarked for advancing Reconciliation since 2015. Of the billions of dollars announced and recorded, there remains only one federal program that specifically supports urban Indigenous programming and it sunsets in 2025. Despite the fact that more than half of the Indigenous population in Canada is urbanized and face disproportionate levels of poverty, homelessness, racism and violence, there is no urban Indigenous plan, strategy or commitment to stable funding beyond 2025.

Within urban spaces, Friendship Centres are the most robust and expansive service providers that can respond to the need to address the social, economic, cultural and marginalization of Indigenous people. The NAFC, through its members, collectively serve over 1 million people in over 100 communities across Canada from coast to coast to coast and are the largest urban Indigenous owned and operated civil society movement.

It is essential to understand that supporting Friendship Centres is an investment with tangible economic and social returns. By providing increased, ongoing, and stable funding to these Centres, the federal government is, in fact, investing in the Canadian economy and fulfilling its obligations under various significant commitments, including the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN DRIP), Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Inquiry Calls to Justice, and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The NAFC remains a ready, willing, and natural partner to ensure an economy that truly works for everyone, including the full inclusion of all Indigenous people, regardless of residency. Our expertise and community driven approach is key to addressing the unique needs of urban Indigenous populations,” says Formsma, “We too believe that better is always possible and Friendships Centres are driven to building sustainable and resilient Indigenous communities in the urban, rural and northern areas that we serve.”


John Paillé
Senior Communications Coordinator
[email protected]

The National Association of Friendship Centres is a network of over 100 Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations, which make up part of the Friendship Centre Movement– Canada’s most significant national network of self-determined Indigenous owned and operated civil society community hubs offering programs, services and supports to urban Indigenous people.

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