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About

The history of Friendship Centres in British Columbia dates back to 1954 when a group of concerned Aboriginal people in Vancouver formed the Coqualeetza Fellowship Club in order to provide support services to Aboriginal students moving to the city. Although providing support to students remained a primary objective of this group, the organizers over the next few years found themselves responding to ever increasing requests for services from Aboriginal people moving into Vancouver. In 1963, the incorporation of the Coqualeetza Fellowship Club as the Vancouver Indian Centre Society marked the beginning of the Friendship Centre movement in British Columbia. In response to the growing need to provide services to urban Aboriginal people, in 1971, the Federal Government, through the Department of the Secretary of State, introduced the Migrating Native People's Program, which provided core funding to Friendship Centres. Over the next ten years this initiative led to fourteen new Centres being established in BC, attesting to both the need and community support existing across the province. In these early years, Friendship Centres were primarily perceived as a place where Aboriginal people could drop in and have a cup of coffee; a place where they could socialize with their own people and receive emotional support. During these formative years, Friendship Centres offered few direct services as their primary role was to refer people to existing social services agencies.