The Can-Am Indian Friendship Centre is driven by the desire of Aboriginal peoples within the areas of Windsor and Essex County to become a self-sufficient, self-determining, self-governing community. Historically, the Friendship Centre has been the focal point for Aboriginal peoples within the urban environment.
The Centre was incorporated in 1982 to facilitate the acquisition of key administrative funding. The Centre itself retains the grassroots support and direction that was evident in the founding members. The Centre and the Aboriginal community are inter-linked, seemingly a single entity.
The decade of the 1980’s saw moderate growth of the organization, as the community sought increased programming for their children, adult basic literacy, social counseling, and community development activities. Relationships were being initiated between the Aboriginal community and the greater Windsor community. The Friendship Centre was at the forefront of educating the city of Windsor on the rights of peoples of all races through its annual race relation’s conferences.
The present decade has represented a fundamental shift in the attitudes of the community and centre towards their place within society. The cultural and spiritual renewal of Aboriginal peoples has contributed towards the development of a strong community seeking independence. Independence in this sense is constituted of a desire to have control over their future, and the generations of Aboriginal peoples to come. It is a desire to avert past paternalistic, and genocidal relationships, which have characterized past interaction with the various levels of government.
Over time, the Friendship Centre has sought: To remain a community, grassroots driven organization; To improve the quality of life of community members; To develop programs and services that meet community identified needs; To incorporate Aboriginal traditions, and beliefs into Centre programming; To advocate on behalf of Aboriginal people within Windsor; To remain committed to a Code of Ethics that sees all individuals as equals.
Windsor Essex Pelee Island
As we look towards the future, several issues are of priority to the Centre: The establishment of a facility that will meet the long-term needs of the Aboriginal community; The identification and establishment of governmental/non-governmental revenue sources to meet the growing program needs of the Aboriginal community; Specific programs and services targeting youth and elders; The establishment of proactive programming that promotes the establishment of a healthy Aboriginal community; A commitment to continued, and increased community input into the Friendship Centre, and future program developments; The utilization of a holistic, integrated approach to Centre programs and services; The development of a long-term strategic plan to guide the development of the Centre; The fostering of relationships, with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal organizations, based upon the concepts of mutual benefit, and respect. At the present the Friendship Centre develops a multitude of programs and services that encompass the cultural, economic, social, and political objectives of the Aboriginal community.