Wachiay Friendship Centre Society

Wachiay Friendship Centre Society

wachiay_friendship_centreWachiay Friendship Centre is located in the city of Courtenay on Vancouver Island and opened its doors in 1995. Since the Friendship Centre movement began in the 60’s, the goal has been to deliver programs and services that meet the needs of aboriginal people moving to the cities to seek a better life. Indeed Wachiay, which means ‘welcome’ in the Cree language, is a haven to the urban aboriginal community in the Comox Valley.

wachiay_buildingThe 2006 B.C. Statistical Profile has an aboriginal population of 2,280 living in the Comox Valley Regional District with 1,115 aboriginal people in Courtenay and 360 in Comox.  Over 10,000 contacts are recorded at the Centre each year. Some are first time visitors while others are members and repeat visitors participating in various programs and accessing services.

Wachiay programs are created based upon the needs of urban aboriginal children, youth, families, parents and seniors living within our community. The urban aboriginal community share similar needs with the non-aboriginal community. Wachiay Friendship Centre programs and services are available to all who walk through our front door and request assistance.

elders_visitWachiay welcomes visitors. Monday nights are Youth night, Wednesdays are Elder luncheons and Fridays are Family Circle nights. Wachiay offers a wide range of programs and services including Legal Aid, Homeless Prevention, Advocacy and Roots.

The Roots worker creates a family tree for aboriginal youth-in-care. The tree provides youth with information about their family and nation and assists in preserving their aboriginal identity. Many youth have reconnected with their family and community through this program.

Programs that focus on children and youth are Youth Legacy, Bears, FASD Keyworker, Wachiay First Nations Snowboard Team and Raven Back Youth Drop In. Raven Back participants learn about recreational and cultural activities in safe and supportive surroundings.  Leadership skills are developed and youth have opportunities to attend youth conferences and gatherings such as Traditional Foods of Vancouver Island where they learn about the gathering, preparation and preservation of traditional aboriginal foods.  Youth are presently making traditional regalia, with moccasins being their first project.

wachiay_youthA fairly new offering at Wachiay is the Blueprint for Success Women in Business program. Blueprint is a 12 week entrepreneurial business-training course for aboriginal and immigrant women.  Blueprint will run to March 2013 and is now being offered a second time after a successful first run which culminated in a networking session with the Courtenay business community thereby opening up new opportunities for the participants. 

Wachiay is a member organization of the B.C. Association of Aboriginal. Friendship Centres. We partner with government and organizations such as the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Lu’ma Native Housing, Legal Services Society of B.C., Status of Women Canada, Island J.A.D.E. Society, Vancouver Island Health Authority, School District 71, Comox Valley RCMP, St. Joseph’s Hospital to deliver programs and services that improve the lives of urban aboriginals.

Wachiay promotes unity, cooperation and friendship amongst all peoples within our community and has been welcoming people for 16 years in the Comox Valley.

 

For more info, please visit their website at: www.wachiay.org