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The NAFC commits over $1.5 million to urban Indigenous Social Purpose Organizations in final round of the Investment Readiness Program

Press Release

July 13, 2023

OTTAWA, July 13, 2023– The NAFC is pleased to announce that it is committing over $1.5 million in Investment Readiness Program funding to 19 urban Indigenous social purpose organizations (SPOs) from coast to coast to coast.

The Investment Readiness Program (IRP) is a Government of Canada initiative that seeks to support SPOs (charities, non-profits, co-operatives) as they develop their social enterprises and work towards goals of becoming investment-ready in Canada’s growing social finance market. The NAFC is working alongside Chantier de l’économie sociale, Community Foundations of Canada, Canadian Women’s Foundation and the Foundation for Black Communities in supporting the delivery of the $50 million Investment Readiness Program. In particular, the NAFC is working to ensure that Friendship Centres and other urban Indigenous SPOs have access to capital to develop, start and grow their social enterprises. These organizations have historically faced significant barriers in accessing capital to participate in Canada’s economic systems and growth.

In the previous iteration of the IRP, the NAFC exclusively funded Friendship Centres, however the NAFC has now opened its IRP funding to all urban Indigenous SPOs. Funded urban Indigenous SPOs, Friendship Centres included, address significant social needs in their respective communities and have a historical track record of creating positive impacts in their community.

IRP funds will be supporting these urban Indigenous SPOs in developing, starting and growing their social enterprises or in monetizing their existing community-serving programs. Funded projects range from housing initiatives to art boutiques and food services and address a number of community needs such as employment, homelessness, cultural revitalization and economic reconciliation. In line with the NAFC’s IRP selection criteria, all projects work towards the growth and generation of collective wealth within the urban Indigenous ecosystem.

“Our Government recognizes the integral role social purpose organizations have in tackling social, economic, and environmental challenges in Canada. The National Association of Friendship Centres plays a critical role in supporting culturally relevant programs and services for Indigenous people living in urban centres across Canada. The Investment Readiness Program supports our goal of increasing inclusion and opportunities for participation of Canadians in their communities and is a foundational element to help social purpose organizations grow, innovate, and enhance their social, economic, and environmental impacts.” – The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development

Funded IRP projects are ensuring that urban Indigenous community organizations are creating innovative solutions to pressing social challenges in community. An example of such a project is the BUILD Inc. project in the city of Winnipeg, that seeks to develop novel responses to public safety with the goal of reducing incarceration amongst urban Indigenous community members.

“The Investment Readiness Program is allowing BUILD to, using the tools of social finance and social procurement, explore a new and innovative way to unlock much-needed funds for the social enterprise sector. Our program will utilize investors’ inputs to partner with public safety, making our communities safer and more equitable, creating jobs and a future where the only option in the past would have been incarceration.” – Sean Hogan, BUILD Inc.

The NAFC’s IRP funding is also supporting innovative approaches to Indigenous tourism, giving urban Indigenous communities the opportunity to participate in Canada’s tourism sector and ensure that urban Indigenous voices and perspectives are represented within the tourism ecosystem. One such project is Edson Friendship Centre’s Willow River Lodges.

“We are honoured by the support of the National Association of Friendship Centre under the Investment Readiness Program. The funding will support our new social enterprise initiative, Willow River Lodges.  We are developing an Indigenous tourism experience that will include Tipi and trapper’s tent accommodations as well as a working cultural educational centre.  We believe that this project will become an economic driver for the Edson Friendship Centre at the same time as addressing reconciliation and the advancement of the rich Indigenous culture of the area. Guests will be able to stay in one of our 10 lodges as well as engage in medicine walks, cultural activities, hide tanning and yearly celebrations using local Elders and knowledge keepers. There will also be opportunities for schools and organizations to use the facility for group retreats and cross-cultural education.” – Kristie Gomukwa, Edson Friendship Centre.

Lastly, the IRP has allowed for Friendship Centres, Canada’s most expansive urban Indigenous service delivery network, to utilize their spaces to foster technological innovation and supports for community. The People of the Dawn Friendship Centre in Stephenville, NB is one such example of a Friendship Centre finding new ways to utilize their spaces to advance community projects and needs.

“The Circle Labs Project is the next step in our plans to transform the building space we operate as a social enterprise. All modifications to the space are intended to improve the tenant and visitor experience and offer amenities not easily accessible or available elsewhere in the community. For our latest changes, we are re-configuring and re-purposing spaces in the building that have been underused or limited as storage spaces. With support from the IRP, the larger space will be converted into our first Circle Lab– a space designed for small groups with access to video-teleconferencing and creative technologies to facilitate workshops, micro-credential training, and other innovative learning opportunities. The second Lab will be established for community outreach services provided by local partners. This will involve a dedicated office space ideally positioned for interviews and consultations. Stakeholders who have already expressed interest in rotating office hours include those in health and legal supports. These Labs will be operated in support of our three pillars for the project– technology, creativity, and community. Our hope is that these new additions will attract new tenants who offer complementary services or resources as well as continue to draw community members and agencies to use these spaces on a rental basis further strengthening our existing social enterprise. – Patrick Park-Tighe, People of the Dawn Friendship Centre

Here is the list of all funded SPOs for the round of the NAFC’s IRP, project details will be made available on the NAFC website:

Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary Calgary, AB
AYDA Women Inuvik, NWT
Building Urban Industries for Local Development Inc. Winnipeg, MB
Dudes Club Society Vancouver, BC
Edson Friendship Centre Edson, AB
First Light Friendship Centre St. John’s, NL
Ile a la Crosse Friendship Centre Ile a la Crosse, SK
Ikwe Safe Rides Winnipeg, MB
Lac La Biche Native Friendship Centre Associations Lac La Biche, AB
Ma-Mow-We-Tak Friendship Centre Thompson, MB
Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Education Centre Winnipeg, MB
Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre Fort McMurray, AB
NT/NU Council of Friendship Centres Yellowknife, NWT
Oyate Tipi Cumini Yape Winnipeg, MB
People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Centre Stephenville, NB
Purpose Homes Winnipeg, MB
Red Deer Native Friendship Society Red Deer, AB
Supporting Wellbeing Yellowknife, NWT
Victoria Native Friendship Centre Victoria, BC


Shady Hafez
Programs Manager



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