Mission

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The RCAAQ advocates for the rights and interests of Indigenous citizens in cities and actively supports the development of Native Friendship Centres. These hubs gather Indigenous people in urban areas, offer culturally relevant services and contribute to harmony between peoples by promoting Indigenous cultures.

Vision

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The RCAAQ is a leader in the urban aboriginal civil society. Renown for our expertise and vitality, we contribute to the development of relevant public policies.

The RCAAQ represents, consults, and supports the development of a dynamic Native Friendship Centre Movement, based on cooperation, openness, pride, proximity human relations, and respect.

Values

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  • Integrity

    Integrity is being sure to have all the relevant information in order to act in an informed, meticulous and consistent manner in keeping with our values and cultures.

  • Equity

    Equity is the ability to act in a fair and impartial manner to adequately meet the Movement’s needs.

  • Involvement

    Involvement is conviction and dedication to the mission.

  • Solidarity

    Solidarity is placing collective interests above individual ones to develop the Movement in a spirit of collaboration, mutual aid and friendship.

  • Respect

    Respect is expressing empathy and transparency in our professional relationships.

  • Pride

    Pride is positively associating with the Movement and projecting a worthy and empowering image.

The Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec represents
11 Native Friendship Centres.

Background

Native Friendship Centres are urban service hubs as well as a gathering place and a cultural anchoring space for Indigenous people. Fighting for the rights and defending the interests of Indigenous people, Native Friendship Centres work tirelessly each day to promote greater understanding of the issues, challenges and problems urban Indigenous people face while favouring harmonious cohabitation in their living environment.

The Native Friendship Centre Movement was launched in Quebec nearly 50 years ago. After the first Native Friendship Centre opened in Chibougamau in 1969, several others followed in the 1970s. These were in cities that were already meeting points for Indigenous citizens, who travelled there to access the services and, in some instances, settle there permanently. 

In 1976, the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec (RCAAQ) was founded by and for urban Indigenous people who wanted a provincial structure for consultation, coordination and representation.

In Quebec, the Movement underwent a second phase of development in the 2000s and early 2010s. The various local mobilizations demonstrated the need for a space that fostered a sense of belonging and invited cultural expression while providing access to relevant and culturally safe services.

In 2008, the RCAAQ, in collaboration with the Native Friendship Centres, brought together the story of the efforts and successes of the Friendship Centre Movement in a retrospective work from 1969 to 2008. Pashkabigoni, a History Full of Promise highlights the progress made since the opening of the first Native Friendship Centre in the province of Quebec.

In 2015, new local mobilizations in Maniwaki and Roberval, two cities with a significant Indigenous population and growing needs, called on the RCAAQ to support the emergence of Native Friendship Centres. The mobilizations were supported by neighbouring First Nations communities: Kitigan Zibi and the Algonquin Anishinabeg Nation Tribal Council for Maniwaki and the Mashteuiatsh and Opitciwan communities for the city of Roberval.

In 2018, in response to the growing needs of the Indigenous population in Trois-Rivières, the city’s point of service, which was a satellite of the Centre d’amitié autochtone de La Tuque, established its own Native Friendship Centre. The Centre d’amitié autochtone de Trois-Rivières thus joined the RCAAQ as a member centre.

As of this same year, a new service centre joined the RCAAQ. Indeed, the Centre multi-services MAMUK, located in Charlesbourg in Quebec City and associated with the Maison communautaire Missinak, also became a member centre of the RCAAQ.

In 2018, the RCAAQ represents 11 Native Friendship Centres.

In Quebec, the Native Friendship Centre Movement is powered by more than 150 staff members, most of whom are Indigenous people and women. The Friendship Centres rely on over a hundred volunteers and serve thousands of First Nations people.

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Native Friendship Centres in Canada

The Native Friendship Centre Movement has been underway in Canada for over 60 years. Made up of 119 Native Friendship Centres, six provincial and territorial organizations and a National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC), it is the largest service infrastructure for Indigenous people in Canadian cities. The Friendship Centres share a mission: to improve quality of life for Indigenous citizens living in or passing through urban areas. These multiservice centres in urban areas aim to include all Indigenous people, whether First Nations, Métis or Inuit members. They uphold an “open door” policy that does not discriminate based on status, nation or place of residence.
We are Indigenous and democratic community organizations that work in a spirit of complementarity with First Nations communities and their partners. The Movement’s strength rests on our democratic bodies, which enable all Indigenous citizens to express their aspirations, take part in the Centres’ decision-making process by serving on our boards of directors and attending annual general assemblies, and draw on their experience as service users to make improvements to the services to better meet their needs. Our management and governance structures are oriented toward Indigenous citizens.