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Ancestral beliefs reflected in modern-day practice – Canada’s National Observer

February 27th 2024

Indigenous Peoples have long believed that everyone in a community ought to be cared for and fed.

These days, that ancestral principle can find itself reflected in the modern social economy and non-profit organizations, including friendship centres, which have successfully adopted it as a pathway to an economic structure, says Kelly Banning, president of the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC).

“I think it aligns so well with our traditions and beliefs,” explains Banning. “The term social economy has more or less given us a name for the way that we conduct ourselves.”

Last week, the inaugural Urban Indigenous Social Economy Forum in Ottawa brought together friendship centres, provincial and federal organizations and Indigenous social organization leadership from across the country to network and share knowledge and expertise.

The forum was funded as part of the Investment Readiness Program, which supports social purpose organizations, like friendship centres.

Social economy is loosely defined as economic activities that prioritize people rather than capital. It’s a model seen at the non-profit level for decades, usually centring around the need to serve a strong social purpose before the need to accumulate profit.

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