Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples

Issue 9 - Evidence - (December 5 meeting)


OTTAWA, Wednesday, December 5, 2001

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 5:58 p.m. to examine access, provision and delivery of services, policy and jurisdictional issues, employment and education, access to economic opportunities, youth participation and empowerment, and other related matters.

Senator Thelma J. Chalifoux (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.

Before we began, I gave the witnesses a little background on our work and on what this action plan for change is all about. Their input is very important to our knowing exactly what is happening. We want to identify the gaps that we have heard about. Some of the agencies can participate in that.

Ms Judith LaRocque, Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Canadian Heritage: Accompanying Mr. Moyer and me is the person who really knows everything about this program, Audrey Greyeyes, our policy and planning officer. We will be depending on Audrey if we cannot come up with a good answer for you.

We welcome the opportunity to come and talk to you about what we are doing at the Department of Canadian Heritage. This presentation will provide the committee with information on our activities related to Aboriginal youth. I realize you may have a broader area of interest, but we decided to take you up on what we understood from your letter to be your goal - to identify the key urban Aboriginal-youth-related initiatives in our department.

There are three such programs: the Aboriginal Friendship Centres Program, the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres, which we call UMAYC for ease of reference; and the Young Canada Works for Urban Aboriginal Youth.

At the heart of Canadian Heritage`s mandate is encouraging citizens to participate in Canadian society. The Aboriginal Peoples' Program addresses this mandate through the fostering of Aboriginal peoples' participation in Canadian society. This can mean, among other things, enabling them to define and develop solutions to issues that affect their lives in a culturally appropriate manner.

Canadian Heritage programming is pan-Aboriginal. That is to say, it includes First Nations, non-status Indians, Métis and Inuit peoples. Programming mostly focuses on the off-reserve Aboriginal community. The department's Aboriginal peoples' branch comprises 11 programs, including representation, communications and language, women, youth, and urban programs. In addition, other departmental programs have components that address Aboriginal issues, for example, in the amateur sport area or in our cultural industries area, as well as in the arts and heritage areas.

Our portfolio agencies - and we have many - also have programs specific to Aboriginal Peoples. I have with me a list of these programs that I can leave with the members of the committee.

[Translation]

We know that Statistics Canada and some other experts have already given the Committee their perspective on the demographic and geographical profiles of the Aboriginal community in general, and of the Aboriginal Youth, in particular. However, it is important to note that the Aboriginal population is, generally speaking, a young population.

Rightly so, 62 per cent of Aboriginals are less than 30 years of age and 53 per cent, less than 25. Also, the Aboriginal population's growth rate is more than twice Canada's rate.

Young Aboriginals live mostly on-reserve. The percentage given here includes First Nations youth who live on-reserve. On page 5, the 71 per cent includes First Nations Youth. They live mostly in areas with a population of more than a thousand people, which makes them eligible to the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres Initiative. The ones living in the West are the most numerous and represent a larger share of the urban population in that area.

[English]

If you turn to page 6 of the deck, you will see the 24 census metropolitan areas.

The Chairman: Before you go on, may I ask you a question? This shows that approximately 71 per cent live off reserve. Are you including the Métis and Inuit in these statistics?

Ms LaRocque: Yes, we are. To continue, on page 6, the 24 census metropolitan areas here are defined as cities with a population of 100,000 or more that have an Aboriginal population. Of those 24, the 9 cities west of Sudbury show a significant proportion of self-identified Aboriginal youth. The extent to which, from Sudbury on we have self-identified Aboriginal youth, is remarkable. That is where the majority of Aboriginal programs will occur.

The current Canadian Heritage story is really one of three major strategic programs directed to urban Aboriginal youth. The Aboriginal Friendship Centres Program invests $14.6 million annually to provide operational support to friendship centres and to the National Association of Friendship Centres, which is their umbrella group. The Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres invests $23 million annually in programs for urban youth. The Young Canada Works program directs $1.5 million annually to providing summer work experience in friendship centres for Aboriginal youth.

In total, approximately $40 million is invested each year by the department in programs for urban Aboriginal youth. I want to underline the fact that these programs are delivered by third-party Aboriginal organizations.

The Aboriginal Friendship Centres, which is the first pillar of the three, laid the foundation for federal interaction with the urban Aboriginal community. They began in the mid-1950s as a referral service. By the 1970s, they had become a major delivery vehicle for federal programs and also places for federal and other government outreach activities. In addition, they provided the government with data and information on urban Aboriginal peoples that were not always readily available through regular data-gathering sources.

[Translation]

The strength of the friendship centres is their board members, their employees and their volunteers. Youth are an integral part of a friendship centre and Aboriginal youth are deeply involved in friendship centres. That's where many young persons get their first work experience. They participate in several volunteer activities.

[English]

The Aboriginal Friendship Centres Program, or the AFCP, is managed and administered by the National Association of Friendship Centres under a five-year transfer agreement. We are currently in the first year of the second such agreement. This arrangement arose from a proposal from the National Association of Friendship Centres and its membership to undertake the management of the program. The agreement, as I said, provides $14.6 million annually in core funding to support99 centres and the overall national Aboriginal friendship centre group.

The program, like all federal programs, underwent budget cuts in the 1990s and resulting from program review. Despite reduced funding levels, the NAFC has maintained the initial network of99 centres. In addition, 18 non-funded centres maintain themselves through extensive volunteer work and project funding. Canadian Heritage was able, however, to provide almost $900,000 in interim funding this year for those 18 unfunded centres.

[Translation]

This year, the NAFC's information kit on friendship centres indicates that only 20 per cent of the centres' operational budget comes from federal programs. The NAFC also mentions that the estimate number of volunteers is 11,200, they receive approximately 7,250 clients a day and they have seven categories of programs and services. The assessment and management of the transfer agreement by the NAFC has given positive results.

[English]

You can see that their statistics are impressive. They have 11,200 volunteers. They receive an average of 7,250 clients per day. The evaluation concluded that they are administering that program very well.

However, pressures continue to emerge. Friendship centres are operating within a fixed level of funding in spite of the growing urban Aboriginal population. As a major federal urban partner, the program has an increasing number of responsibilities and an increasing accountability workload. Eighteen centres have no ongoing funding at all. The full story of the work of the friendship centres has not yet been captured. Much information exists in reports, but a comprehensive examination of this information has never been undertaken.

We are undertaking a results-based management accountability framework with the National Association of Friendship Centres with a view to capturing an overall picture of what is currently only known in a piecemeal fashion. We are convinced that this will shed some very important light for us on the dossier.

[Translation]

The NAFC members and its AFC have clearly established what they need to develop programs and projects that can meet the needs and concerns of young Aboriginals in urban centres. More specifically they think that the youth must participate in the design, planning and implementation of programs; the community must also be participating, there should be capacity building and leadership development amongst the youth. We are in total agreement with them.

[English]

This brings us to an area of particular interest to the committee, the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres, the primary federal initiative directed to urban Aboriginal youth.

The budget for this initiative is $100 million over five years. It is focused on off-reserve urban centres, that is, centres having a population of 1,000 or more, many also having friendship centres. Like our other initiatives, this program is inclusive of First Nations, non-status Indian, Métis and Inuit urban youth. Some projects address youth younger than 15 years of age, fostering peer support through activities such as sport, recreation and cultural initiatives, with a view to encouraging staying in school and building pride and capacity. This initiative is but one part of the solution to addressing the needs of our urban Aboriginal youth. Success in these endeavours depends on ensuring a horizontal approach and on partnerships.

The first objective of the initiative is to improve the personal, economic and social prospects of urban Aboriginal youth. To do this, projects have to be culturally relevant, community based, accessible and supportive. Activities undertaken in these projects address such things as school completion, employment, gang and violence issues, culture and heritage, and cultural and recreational support. These foster the building of self-esteem and help to equip the beneficiaries with skills and needed encouragement. Our approach is to develop a strong network and infrastructure, led by Aboriginal youth, to mobilize their own communities and garner the cooperation and support of a broad range of other partners.

Several meetings were held with Aboriginal youth during the development and design of this initiative. It was the youth themselves who identified the six priorities on page 16 that they wanted the initiative to address. They are: education attainment and completion, employment readiness, personal development, health education and awareness, sport and recreation, and art and culture. However, Aboriginal youth were very clear that there is a theme that underpins these priorities, and that is the need to reclaim and celebrate their Aboriginal heritage.

Implementation of the UMAYC required a flexible approach to reflect the different circumstances in urban centres across Canada. We have two models. In 67 per cent of the programs, delivery is undertaken by Aboriginal organizations. In 33 per cent, it is undertaken by the Department of Canadian Heritage, but exclusively in six western cities and under the direction of Aboriginal youth advisory councils. There are 14 Aboriginal delivery organizations and 7 Aboriginal youth advisory councils involved in the delivery of this program.

The UMAYC has been successful in leveraging additional support from all levels of government and fostering cooperative linkages among Aboriginal and non-aboriginal service providers. The initiative acts as a catalyst, helping to pull together and strengthen the activities of key partners.

[Translation]

We are happy to tell you that the results are positive, so far. Our partners in the delivery of Aboriginal programs like those of our department, are giving us overviews of what is going in the communities that they serve. The department indicated that200 local service organizations, mainly Aboriginal organizations, are funded through this program. The projects clearly reflect the priorities established by young Aboriginals and approximately 10,000 youth participate each year in this initiative.

[English]

An evaluation framework of the UMAYC has been developed with our partners. We worked very hard to achieve the goals of our Aboriginal partners, who wanted it to be simple and clear to both parties. The evaluation will focus on the approach taken by the UMAYC and the drafters of the framework were very mindful of the need for cultural respectfulness and a long-term focus. This evaluation will be undertaken with our partners and completed by June 2002. In the interim, an internal audit of the project files of the UMAYC is currently underway.

The final program we wish to talk to you about today is the Young Canada Works Aboriginal Urban Youth Initiative. This is one of four elements funded by the $10 million that the Department of Canadian Heritage receives under the Youth Employment Strategy for summer work-experience initiatives. The focus is on students. However, unemployed urban Aboriginal youth between the ages of 15 and 24 can also participate. Friendship centres, the Aboriginal Youth Council, the provincial-territorial associations and the NAFC provide summer work opportunities in a culturally supportive milieu.

[Translation]

Many success stories have been reported during the six years of the program. We have anecdotal evidence to that effect. For example, a participant from Prince George who only had a few years of work experience after his postsecondary education was recruited by the friendship centre and became director of the employment department. We heard a lot of those stories in the last six years. We must say that summer jobs are mostly related to summer activities for youth and children in the areas of recreation, sports, cultural camps and mutual assistance between youth on issues related to prenatal care and well-being.

The slide on page 22 deals with the design and development of programs, For Aboriginal peoples in urban settings, friendship centres should be a key element of the design, development and delivery of programs. They are important networking tools for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginals. It applies to program design and delivery and the Aboriginal partners as well as the government's program administrators must cooperate.

[English]

These are the lessons learned relative to both the development and capacity building of youth, and the development and design of programs and initiatives for youth. "Inclusiveness," according to youth, means pan-Aboriginal, that is, inclusive of First Nations, non-status, Métis and Inuit youth. It means the programs reach into the community and are conducted in such a manner as to not exclude segments of youth. Youth are concerned that the responses to youth issues may become politicized within current representative frameworks, although they do recognize the legitimate cultural distinctiveness of discrete groups of Aboriginal people.

Our challenge for the future is that, with an increasingly young Aboriginal population, pressure will be exerted on our programs. We will need to ensure sufficient and ongoing resources for the Aboriginal Friendship Centres Program, the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres Initiative and the Young Canada Works Aboriginal Urban Youth Program. It will be necessary for us to continue taking risks in program design and we will need to ensure that we can measure the outcomes from this approach. Also, we will need to continue to embrace partnerships in all that we do. In the long run, we think that this information will be helpful in designing more effective programs and initiatives.

Senator Johnson: Thank you for this very comprehensive overview. It answers many of my questions. What is your opinion on the success of these programs in enhancing cultural identity in the urban centres? I am from Winnipeg, so I am very familiar with what is going on in this area. I myself have seen certain measures of success and failure. How do you think the programs you have reviewed with us today are working?

Ms LaRocque: We have mostly anecdotal evidence currently, because we have not finalized our evaluation. That evidence is quite positive. Aboriginal youth play a key role in determining the priorities and participate in the overview councils. It is great for capacity building. They are also learning how to administer. From our perspective, it has been very positive.

Mr. Norman Moyer, Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Identity, Department of Canadian Heritage: Through programs like this, we are only grappling with some of the issues that exist in large urban centres. I am not an expert on Winnipeg, but I have visited our operations there and talked to our people. That is a very large and complex Aboriginal society. It has different roots and some longstanding organizations.

We have been encouraged by the fact that, in several cities right now, there is a growing willingness on the part of municipal, provincial, federal and Aboriginal groups to work together on common service models. We do not think this has happened often enough. We must go further in the direction of that kind of coordination under a common umbrella.

One example of where we are doing that more aggressively is in the lower east side in Vancouver, where Aboriginals and other people in difficult economic circumstances are gathered. We are trying to work there with all three levels of government, plus those communities.

The youth involvement in the UMAYC program has probably been one of the greatest elements of success. Young people have shown that they really want to be involved in the organization and developing solutions. We can build on that. We are hoping that when we do the evaluation, we will see examples of where it has worked particularly well so that they can be repeated.

That program was designed to pilot new ideas, not to become the total solution. That evaluation, which should be undertaken over the next year, will be used to identify good practices, and I guess it will inevitably identify some less good practices on which we will also have to focus.

Senator Johnson: Are there any mentorship programs, where people like Tomson Highway and other cultural icons of the Aboriginal world come and conduct workshops or work with the kids? In Winnipeg, we do not find them participating in the mainstream, but some have been very involved in friendship centres for a long time. There is a lot happening there, compared with other centres.

When I was in Toronto in June, talking to a bunch of young people who were mostly second generation, they said their greatest need in the city was to be able to reach out and find some identity there. They found it in that friendship centre setting because that is the only one available. There are only60,000 Aboriginals in Toronto, whereas in Winnipeg there are 100,000 - one in five or six people is Aboriginal. Do you target mentorship at all? Is it accessible or is it something that will happen?

Mr. Moyer: We are not designing the way these projects are working out there.

Senator Johnson: You do not do that.

Mr. Moyer: We know that people have been developing programming in the urban environment to create areas of contact between elders and young people in the communities. The young people themselves want to put a value on their culture and experience. Their contribution to Canada is part of what they think is important to gaining back their own pride.

Senator Johnson: Are you involved in the North American Indigenous Games that will be held in Winnipeg next year?

Mr. Moyer: Yes, we are.

Senator Johnson: Sports are very positive. I work with the Special Olympics, and we have a lot of Aboriginal kids in our Special Olympics programs.

Mr. Moyer: The North American Indigenous Games are a growing and important part of Aboriginal reaffirmation. We have supported them in Canada since their inception. The way it is supposed to work is that every second part of the series is to be hosted in the United States. The native peoples in the United States have had less success in getting the support that they need to hold the Games there. There is a sort of structural issue. If the Games are supposed to be held every two years alternating between the United States and Canada, and the U.S. cannot do it, we have a problem.

We also support the Aboriginal Sports Circle, which is a specific council led by a former Aboriginal Olympian who works directly in communities on developing sport programming and ensuring that we can develop better coaches. There is a centre of excellence in Aboriginal sports in Vancouver that was created after the Victoria Commonwealth Games. It is an area where we would like to do more, and we are trying to work with Aboriginal communities to do that.

Senator Johnson: Could you tell me about the four-year Aboriginal Languages Initiative? There was some bad press about that. That was announced in 1998. Was it $20 million that was put into that?

Mr. Moyer: Five million dollars a year for four years.

Senator Johnson: What was the problem with that initiative? There were articles in The Toronto Star quoting people as saying they could not access it. How successful has this program been? Were those stories accurate? Was it a worthwhile project and is it ongoing? I think the funding ends -

Ms LaRocque: In March.

Mr. Moyer: There have been implementation issues. There were divided responses from the communities from the time it was announced, because it was a lot less funding than Aboriginal communities had been hoping for. We chose to implement the program through the major representative organizations. It is delivered by the AFN, the Inuit Tapirisat and the Métis National Council.

Each of those organizations had to negotiate an umbrella agreement with us and then they had to deliver the program in their communities. Some of the initial complaints were about the amount of time it took to put those agreements in place. However, the feedback we get now on the specific activities that are being undertaken is that there are some very interesting and creative language retention and language development programs in place.

We hope to be able to carry on with the program past the end of this year. We expect to go to the government with proposals for a broader policy on Aboriginal languages.

Senator Johnson: Was it implemented strictly by Aboriginal organizations?

Mr. Moyer: Yes, it was.

Senator Johnson: Why were people saying they could not access money? How will you evaluate whether this initiative will continue?

Mr. Moyer: The complaints were at several levels. Initially, it was an issue of slowness.

Senator Johnson: Do you think it was because it was just starting up?

Ms LaRocque: That was part of it.

Mr. Moyer: Part of it was start-up and part of it was traditional concerns about who gets the money when it is divided up - it goes to the chiefs and to the bands. Sometimes, people in the communities with what are, I must say, very innovative and helpful approaches do not get financial support from their own band council. We cannot solve that problem by overriding what the band wants to do. We tried to do that for a long time, and it does not work. They somehow have to open up their own systems more.

Senator Johnson: Do you think this is going to be an integral part of enhancing cultural identity for Aboriginal people?

Mr. Moyer: We think that language is the soul of culture.

Ms LaRocque: If Aboriginal youth are learning their language, they will be more confident about approaching learning generally. We think it is a good thing. We are involved in some other interesting projects, not related to anything I have raised today, on our digital content side. We are working with Cree and Ojibwa to create a digital dictionary, for example. We are working on various levels. That one is outside the Aboriginal languages program completely. It has more to do with the digital content initiative. It is new and we think it will have a long-lasting impact.

Senator Johnson: So you will carry on with this program?

Mr. Moyer: We very much want to; we are waiting for news, like all other Canadians.

Senator Tkachuk: I have quite a number of questions on the friendship centres. How long has this program been going?

Ms LaRocque: Forty years.

Senator Tkachuk: I may have this wrong, but was there not a question about the results of the program? You said you had anecdotal evidence. Was that on the friendship program?

Ms LaRocque: No, that was on the UMAYC.

Senator Tkachuk: Do you have evidence on the friendship program?

Ms Nancy Greenway, Program Officer, Aboriginal Peoples' Program, Department of Canadian Heritage: Our results are quite out of date in the sense that our last full evaluation was in 1988. We are looking to do an impact study in the next months in cooperation with the national association. We have developed terms of reference.

Senator Tkachuk: How much money does the federal government spend on the friendship centres?

Ms LaRocque: $14.1 million.

Senator Tkachuk: How much of that is for administration and how much is for programming?

Mr. Moyer: All of the money goes, in a contract, to the National Association of Friendship Centres. Their costs add up to about 10 per cent.

Ms Greenway: A figure of $692,000 is identified in the contract.

Senator Tkachuk: Where does that $700,000 go?

Ms Greenway: It goes to the national association, and also to provincial and territorial associations, to provide technical and administrative support.

Senator Tkachuk: A figure of $700,000 goes to the National Association of Friendship Centres and the provincial ones. How many provincial associations are there?

Ms Greenway: There are seven.

Senator Tkachuk: At the local level, somebody is in charge of the friendship centres - the bosses or administrators. How much is spent on administration? A friendship centre in Saskatoon, for example, how much of its budget is for administration and how much is for programming? The $700,000 you are talking about is taken off the top, 5 per cent, for the national and provincial organizations. How much of that is spent on salaries at each friendship centre and how much of it is spent on programming?

Ms LaRocque: I do not know whether we have the details of that. We could get that information for you. Certainly, the vast majority of those dollars are spent on programming. They do have some salaried employees, but they also have many volunteers. Otherwise, they could not provide the services they do.

Senator Tkachuk: I am sure that is true. However, I am asking how much.

Mr. Moyer: It is shown in our deck that only 20 per cent of the money going to those friendship centres comes from us. They have several other sources of income.

Senator Tkachuk: Where would that come from?

Mr. Moyer: They deliver services for other organizations in the community. They may have a contract with the municipal government or the provincial government to deliver services.

Senator Tkachuk: What kind of services would they be providing?

Mr. Moyer: They provide the full range of services that you could imagine to help integrate people into a community: advice on housing, health care, the educational system, learning and job skills. They deliver a wide range of skills training or they put people in contact with other service deliverers.

Senator Tkachuk: Who is the clientele? You mentioned 15 to 19; would that be the clientele?

Ms Audrey Greyeyes, Program Officer, Aboriginal Peoples' Program, Department of Canadian Heritage: The 15- to 25-year-olds are part of the UMAYC program. The friendship centre delivers services to all Aboriginal people, resident and transient, in an urban centre. Their clients are the Aboriginal people coming into an urban centre. They deliver almost everything. They have programs for children and youth, on health, parenting and so forth. They get project funding from many sources, including the United Way and municipal institutions.

Our money gives them the opportunity to maintain their infrastructure so that they can do the necessary planning to meet the needs of their community. Having done so, they approach other organizations for program and service support.

Senator Tkachuk: Federal, provincial and municipal money goes into the friendship centres to administer programs that are basically urban in nature.

Ms Greyeyes: Yes.

Senator Tkachuk: It would be helpful if you could tell us what these programs are.

Ms Greyeyes: They do everything. Some Aboriginal Head Start programs are situated in friendship centres. Students hired under Young Canada Works actually run summer programs for children and youth most of the time. They are involved in recreational, sport and cultural events, and youth and peer counselling. We have people who go into the real ghettos, youth who work with youth right on the street.

They identify the needs of the community. Programming can be successful or not, depending on how things work in governments and the monies that are available. They are generally successful in leveraging monies. Only 20 per cent of the budget for the friendship centres comes from federal funding.

Senator Tkachuk: Is this good?

Ms Greyeyes: I think it is very good. Our program creates the infrastructure in the urban community. Then they go out and leverage the programs. Those programs are delivered to Aboriginal people in urban centres in a culturally appropriate manner.

In the 1960s and 1970s, most Aboriginal people were not using municipal or provincial programs. They felt alienated. Friendship centres have created the bridges and are now delivering some of those programs.

Senator Tkachuk: Is this helping them to integrate into society in general? I know what you are saying and I believe that it is probably true. The daycare centre run by Mrs. Johnson down the street may perhaps not have made the Aboriginal person feel very comfortable because the cultural differences were so great, or whatever.

I want to know whether this collection of programs helps Aboriginals to integrate into general society. They are going to have to live with me.

Ms Greyeyes: These programs have given people the opportunity to integrate on their own terms. That is what they have been looking for. That is very good. The essence of diversity is to be a part of the community on your own terms.

Senator Tkachuk: You also need to deal with the general Canadian community.

Ms Greyeyes: You must first feel comfortable in your own skin. Then you can contribute to and be part of the larger community. As an Aboriginal person, I feel that has happened.

Senator Tkachuk: How many people would be employed at friendship centres across the country?

Ms LaRocque: I do not know; I can get that for you. They do have 11,200 volunteers working for them.

Senator Tkachuk: I understand that. People work at the YMCA and the United Way and they also are volunteers. I want to know how many people are actually employed and then who are the customers, how many clients they have.

Obviously we have many problems in Aboriginal areas. You were mentioning the east side of Vancouver. If you travel down East Hastings Street, you will not see just Aboriginal people. As a matter of fact, I would say they are the minority on the street. Within the buildings, I have no idea. However, when I drive through East Hastings, it is not a very pretty sight.

The problems are drugs and alcohol, prostitution and crime. It is not that the people do not have anywhere to go. People can go to a variety of services outside of social welfare organizations. There is the Salvation Army, friendship centres and other groups out there, but they choose not to go. People are sitting in the streets; it is a terrible situation.

We are trying to determine which programs are relevant, what works and what does not, and go from there.

Ms LaRocque: I would be happy to get that information for you.

Senator Johnson: I have a supplementary to Senator Tkachuk's question. The $40 million is all the federal government gives friendship centres in the whole of the country.

Mr. Moyer: Fourteen million dollars. That amount represents all the programs in urban centres.

Senator Johnson: You only give $14 million. Coming from Winnipeg, I did not think to ask a question about friendship centres, because in our world it is the most successful program ever.

Senator Tkachuk: We have one in Saskatoon, too. I am trying to get an idea of the situation in the whole country.

Senator Johnson: It is a model that has worked better than anything I have seen in the urban setting because it is a place people go. They congregate. I am interested in the stats for the purposes of our study. I have been to these centres and they are fabulous places. I feel very comfortable going to them at any time. I applaud the monies that are spent on them. I would like to see more monies given to those centres, if indeed we are going to give any monies. They are a success story. I was thinking $40 million, but even $14 million goes a long way.

Ms LaRocque: It does.

Senator Johnson: I am sorry for the intervention. I wanted some of my colleagues who do not live in Winnipeg or Regina to know that this is a good story.

Senator Tkachuk: They leverage those monies into a substantial further amount.

Senator Johnson: I know, because I have volunteered at Rossbrook House and other places in Winnipeg, that a lot of fabulous work is done there. I know how many volunteers are involved in these places. These are the good news stories that are all part of the work we are trying to do. That is why I intervened with this information.

The Chairman: Just to give you a little background, I have been involved in friendship centres for a hundred years, from Calgary to Edmonton to Slave Lake to High Prairie. I am that old. I feel that old at times. When we first asked the government for funding, the friendship centres were to be a bridge between the non-aboriginal and the Aboriginal people and to do exactly what you were describing, Senator Tkachuk, to bring the two communities together to understand each other and live together.

Through the years, things have changed. The program has become totally Aboriginal-focused, which I think is sad, because we have to learn to live together in our society. That is not happening.

I have noticed that other agencies are expanding in areas away from the centres. The communities are not clustered around the centres any more. In Winnipeg, we have the Aboriginal centre in the train station, and then we have the Thunderbird House. These agencies are really struggling because they are not taken seriously; yet they are doing a wonderful job.

In Edmonton, there is the Ben Calf Robe Society. We have the Métis Cultural Dance Society. There are several agencies there that are really struggling. Is your department considering helping some of the smaller community agencies?

There are also non-funded friendship centres. We have one in Lac LaBiche that is doing a wonderful job with next to nothing. Lac LaBiche is right next to Fort McMurray and the centre is needed so badly. What funding will they receive?

When we were in Vancouver, we learned that the friendship centre does marvellous things there. I was really impressed with what they are doing. They wanted to start a youth centre across the street, and they could not get funding for it. They talked to us about it. These are the kinds of gaps that exist. There are a lot of good news stories, but there are funding gaps with respect to the smaller agencies. They are doing wonderful work in their own communities, but they are not able to access any funding.

Senator Johnson: What about the Inuit?

The Chairman: The Inuit in urban centres are really struggling. We have them in Winnipeg, Ottawa and Montreal. It is just so sad to see what is happening within the Inuit organizations.

Senator Johnson: They will not go to the centres.

The Chairman: They will not go to the centres. That is a big issue. This is what we are hearing.

Senator Johnson: They are culturally distinct, of course.

The Chairman: So are the Métis.

Due to political differences, the Métis were totally expelled from the friendship centre in Calgary several years ago. They will not go back. We have those challenges, too, among our own communities.

You talk about the youth and giving monies to political organizations for language initiatives. That does not get into the communities. If you did not vote for so and so, good luck - you do not get any funding.

The smaller agencies are really suffering. There should be a review of the process, of whom we fund, so that the money gets to the communities, where it rightfully belongs.

The same thing applies to women's issues. Our women's organizations are really struggling because they cannot access funding.

Senator Hubley: This is a real learning experience for many of us, so I find every question interesting.

How does the establishment of a friendship centre come about? Does a government department say that a certain area needs a friendship centre?

Ms LaRocque: It comes about as a result of a request from the communities themselves. An indication of that is that 18 are unfunded right now, but still exist because the communities themselves determined that there was a need.

Senator Hubley: They serve all age groups, do they?

Ms LaRocque: Yes, they do.

Senator Hubley: They must, in their work, run into medical problems or things of that sort. Do they have a network of other organizations that they can call upon?

Ms LaRocque: Yes. There should be a "one-stop shopping window," if you will, for Aboriginal services.

Senator Hubley: On the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres, you talked a lot about programming. I think you suggested that the young people who came to the centre developed the programming. They identified different programs that they would like to have. Is it the same in every centre? Is there a similarity in the programs that they request?

Mr. Moyer: The UMAYC program is driven by applications. People make proposals to the delivery agencies, which are mostly the friendship centres, except in the six Western cities, where we deliver the program directly. They can bring forward very different ideas. The agencies are not usually located in the friendship centres. They can be elsewhere in the community. They cover a very wide range of programs that have been suggested by the young people in that area. In this case, decisions about who will get what are not managed by the political organizations. The philosophy of the friendship centres and our programs tends to be pan-Aboriginal. We try to seek out people who will agree to provide services right across the spectrum to all Aboriginal peoples.

Senator Hubley: Is there a strong cultural component to the requests that you receive?

Ms LaRocque: Yes. In all instances, they have to have cultural relevance for Aboriginal peoples. That is a strong element.

Senator Hubley: It was no surprise to learn from Statistics Canada that as the educational levels rose, the job opportunities rose. Is it clearly emphasized to young people in these settings that education is very important to how the rest of their lives will unfold?

Mr. Moyer: When we asked young people to identify their priorities, education and reinsertion into the school system was one of them. Initiatives are proposed in that area quite regularly. It is an important part of what we try to do. Many of our efforts go into dealing with people who are in school but are in danger of dropping out. I visited a program in Calgary that targets adolescents who have reached a point where they are no longer sure they can make it, as happens to many young people. They provide one-on-one counselling to help them stay in school. There are other programs that try to get people back into the school system.

Senator Hubley: This summer, we visited several centres in Edmonton. At one school, they held a graduation exercise for the Aboriginal children in grade seven, because they believe that is an important age. Their keynote speaker was an Aboriginal who had achieved success. The purpose was to show the children that if they can make it through these difficult years, it will pay off. I found that interesting.

I recently participated in a fashion show that showcased Darcy Moses, who is a wonderful fashion designer. It seems to me that artistic expression is very common among Aboriginal people. They seem to have artistic talent that many of us do not. That is important to their heritage and something that young people in these settings should be encouraged to pursue.

Senator Léger: Does Canadian Heritage only try to introduce Aboriginal people to our ways, or do we change our ways also?

Ms LaRocque: I think we do. We are in a constant evolutionary mode in our learning and our responsibility to ensure that Aboriginal culture and language is as integral a part of who we are as is English or French or the contribution of newly arrived Canadians.

Our department held a day-and-a-half learning session on Aboriginal issues last fall because some of our sectors did not have Aboriginal issues as their top priority. We have to create learning opportunities.

Next year, our minister will be hosting a summit on Aboriginal art and culture to enable the Aboriginal peoples to teach us, and for us to help them as well.

Senator Léger: You said that you have reached 10,000 youth with your program, which is wonderful. What is the entire population in that age group?

Ms Greyeyes: I believe it is about 140,000. We could get the figure.

Mr. Moyer: That is 10,000 a year, and we now are into our fourth year. I do not know how much repetition there would be, but that would be 30,000 or 40,000 out of 140,000.

Senator Léger: That is a good start, but we have a long road ahead.

Senator Christensen: One of the things you highlighted that young people identified as a problem area to be avoided is politicization. We touched on that earlier. Has there been any investigation into how that can be avoided? We saw it in Edmonton and I have seen it in other friendship centres and programs that are being delivered by First Nations. Very often, the funds do not get to the centres that need it. They are often used up in administration at a more senior, local political level and do not do the job they are supposed to be doing.

Mr. Moyer: One of the reasons there are two delivery models in the UMAYC program is to allow us to experiment with different methods. In the six Western cities, we are working directly with youth advisory councils that advise us on projects that we should accept. In the other areas, we are working with the Métis, the friendship centres or the Inuit to deliver programs through them. When we do our evaluation, we will see whether there is a difference in the methods we experimented with in this program.

We believe that the philosophy of the friendship centres goes in the right direction, and that in most cases, they are still quite good at program delivery. We are aware that there are centres that have encountered difficulty. That happens in every type of organization. The National Association of Friendship Centres has been able to help some of the centres that have encountered difficulties.

We think that working with groups like friendship centres in urban areas is one of the best ways to get around the traditional politics. We know there is still much to do, but we think it is a good part of the solution.

Senator Christensen: Is core funding addressed five years at a time?

Mr. Moyer: The friendship centre programs have ongoing funding. We negotiate an agreement with the National Association of Friendship Centres - is that on a five-year basis?

Ms Greyeyes: Yes, five years.

Mr. Moyer: The money is a permanent part of our A-base.

Senator Christensen: Is that figure constant for each friendship centre? Is it possible to increase the core funding if they are growing and expanding?

Mr. Moyer: The national association allocates the money. It tends to remain fairly regular, because it is difficult to take money away. We have unfunded centres, as other people have pointed out.

Senator Christensen: Why are there unfunded centres if they are legitimate?

Mr. Moyer: They were created at a time when the monies available in the program were capped or being cut back. There was no way that we could undertake to fund them. For the first time this year, we have provided funding on a one-time basis for the 18 unfunded centres. We are doing everything that we can to find a way to provide funding for those centres in future years.

Senator Christensen: If new centres come onboard, is there a process by which they can make application and be considered? Are there just X number of centres and that is all you will cover?

Mr. Moyer: There would be a process, if we had money for that.

Senator Christensen: Is there a cap on the number of centres that you will fund?

Mr. Moyer: There are 99 fully funded centres; the other 18 got one-time funding. The national association would love to have a process for certifying new centres and funding them, but they cannot. They will not cut back on the existing centres in order to fund new ones.

Senator Christensen: What sort of crossover is there? There are friendship centres and other centres as well. Does that perhaps dilute the amount of funding? Can you just explain what crossovers there are, if there are any?

Mr. Moyer: There are some fairly substantial examples. A large part of the UMAYC money is actually administered by the friendship centres and they provide a structure for delivering the program.

Senator Christensen: It is not separate structures, necessarily; is that correct?

Mr. Moyer: Where the friendship centres are the delivery agent, they are directly involved. The programs are not delivered through the friendship centres. The friendship centres provide a structure for choosing which projects and activities will get support.

The UMAYC is unique in its focus on youth and on innovative programming in the community to help youth integration. They supplement what is happening in the friendship centres.

Senator Christensen: UMAYC is not necessarily a physical structure; it can be within the centre, it could be somewhere else, it could be a moving target; is that correct?

Mr. Moyer: That is correct. It frequently is located in another service organization.

Senator Christensen: It is an actual program, as opposed to another centre?

Mr. Moyer: That is correct.

Senator Christensen: It says "youth centres."

Mr. Moyer: That gives you the impression that we have created new centres. That is a problem with our title, I agree.

Senator Christensen: Change your title.

Mr. Moyer: I appreciate that advice.

Senator Tkachuk: Are youth centres also a part of the friendship centres in certain areas?

Mr. Moyer: The friendship centres organize the process, and at times may be involved in some delivery, but most often they are not. Most often, these are delivered outside of the friendship centres.

Senator Tkachuk: Do they not work together?

Mr. Moyer: They work together, but it is often better to have these youth services delivered through a service organization that is specifically devoted to youth.

Senator Tkachuk: Like what?

Mr. Moyer: It could be almost anything. It could be a YM/YWCA, a school, an outreach association. Do you want me to cite any other examples of who is submitting applications for this?

Ms Greenway: The Red Cross is another example.

Mr. Moyer: Churches are another example.

Ms Greenway: Friendship centres are still involved, but they try to find another physical location, even if it means renting somewhere, so that the youth have a place to call their own. What comes up repeatedly is that they want a place where they can feel safe and with culturally appropriate activities.

Senator Tkachuk: Apart from?

Ms Greenway: Apart from the friendship centre. They have wanted to remove themselves from those centres so they could be together and have that experience.

Senator Tkachuk: They do have places?

Ms Greenway: Yes, they do.

Senator Tkachuk: How many?

Ms Greenway: We would have to get back to you on that. The reports that we have received concentrate on what is happening more than where. Sometimes you can pick that information out of a report, but we would not necessarily have that.

Senator Christensen: Are the friendship centres funded through their national body?

Ms LaRocque: Yes.

Senator Christensen: The UMAYC is funded on an individual program basis?

Mr. Moyer: Yes, there is an application process. The overall budget is divided up into the two broad delivery systems I spoke about - one through Aboriginal organizations and one directly through youth councils.

Senator Christensen: Is there good participation in this?

Mr. Moyer: Yes, there is.

Senator Christensen: Does it appear to be well publicized in the right places?

Mr. Moyer: There has been a good response to the program.

Senator Tkachuk: How long has the Urban Multipurpose Aboriginal Youth Centres program been operating?

Mr. Moyer: They have been functioning for approximately four years.

Senator Tkachuk: Where is the community, the reserve, the church, the province or the home in all of this? These activities are things you do at home or at school. These things that should happen in the normal course of events are being paid for with taxpayers' money. Has there been a failure? There must be a tremendous amount of failure. How did this happen? What is causing this program to be necessary?

Mr. Moyer: You have actually answered your own question in the way that you phrased it. There is a significant failure of the mainstream institutions to provide effective services for Aboriginal youth coming into cities. There is internal immigration within Canada, as people move from reserves on which they grew up to urban areas. They are not well-equipped to deal with that environment. They do not know how to get into the school system, find a job or use the normal support elements in that community. They tend to drift into areas of the city where it is easy to be tempted into the kind of behaviours you were talking about before. They are exposed to street gangs and opportunities to become involved in crime.

That is why the kind of supplementary services that we are talking about here, especially culturally sensitive activities, are necessary.

Senator Tkachuk: All the Indian friends I have are pretty smart. What bothers me about this stuff is that it is patronizing. I do not like to patronize people.

Many ethnic groups who were not there before have moved into North American cities. I just do not want to be throwing good money after bad. There is obviously a failure of the school system. I would be really upset at the school system if Aboriginal kids were not getting a good education and were not treated the same as every other kid in the system.

Are we letting the schools off the hook? Are we letting other community organizations off the hook? The home is failing these kids. The schools are failing. Everyone is failing. Should we put all our resources into one place and let all the Aboriginal kids go there? Do you think that is a good idea? Or should we force the school system, the home and the bands to solve some of these problems? Sports and recreation? I want my kids, as they have, to play with Indian kids. The quarterback of the football team at my kids' school was an Indian kid. That is what I want. I do not want a separate Indian football team. I want a school football team where kids of different races get together, have fun and play. Is this not undesirable?

The Chairman: Senator Tkachuk, perhaps I can answer that.

Senator Tkachuk: I hope so. I get frustrated with these things.

The Chairman: We are talking about the migration of people within our own country.

Senator Tkachuk: I know that.

The Chairman: We have Arab centres and Chinese centres. These are resources to help people integrate into society. Forty years ago, we first saw people coming in from the reserves, from settlements and communities, but they had no place to go. They did not know what to do. They were immigrants within their own country. That is why friendship centres were initially established, to help them.

Senator Tkachuk: I am with you on the friendship centres. I am asking about the youth programs.

The Chairman: Our youth have grown up without an identity, without a culture, without any benefit of structure. These programs are very important. I am an elder with the Indigenous Sports Council for Alberta. In the cities, our kids cannot afford to play football. They cannot afford to play baseball. They do not have the money. Our indigenous sports councils help them to be slowly integrated into the mainstream of sports.

Senator Tkachuk: Schools and community associations have programs to help kids play football.

The Chairman: The latent racism in the schools is horrendous. I know about Alberta. My step-grandson wore my indigenous sport jacket to school, and because he is not Aboriginal, he got a rough time from his friends. There is latent racism that isolates the children in the city schools. That is why Dr. Phyllis Cardinal started the Amiskwaciy School in Edmonton. I do not believe in segregation, but we must address the racism and bullying that goes on.

Senator Tkachuk: That can be reversed, too.

The Chairman: It can be reversed only by education and by changing attitudes. It is really difficult. Our youth are facing a terrible situation. The saddest problem that I have seen, in my travels, in meetings with delegations and in letters that I receive, is the funding process. It has become so politicized that the communities and organizations that really need it do not get the money. That is a big problem.

I really like the idea of the UMAYC program, but how do you get that program into our little communities where it is really needed?

I hope that has helped you to understand.

Senator Tkachuk: I am not a big fan of multiculturalism to begin with. It just exacerbates the situation. I know I am in the minority.

The Chairman: You are not really, because I totally agree with you, but it is very difficult for us because we are a conquered people. We have been affected by that. That is why I introduced the Louis Riel bill.

Senator Tkachuk: Let me tell you about conquered people. I am Ukrainian. Do you know how many times we have been conquered? Many times, including by the Poles, by the Russians.

The Chairman: That is not the same as what happened here. You were not denied your language.

Senator Tkachuk: Yes, we were.

The Chairman: You were not denied your culture. It was not a sin for you to play the fiddle. It was for us. That is just one thing.

Senator Tkachuk: They play great fiddle.

The Chairman: I know, but it was a sin. We were not allowed to play for a long time. It goes on and on. That is why friendship centres are so important. We have to change the funding process if we want the smaller agencies in the communities to survive and do the work that they must do.

Senator Landon Pearson has been looking at prostitution and the sexual exploitation of our children. The little agencies working in that area are really struggling. Friendship centres are not doing everything that needs to be done. They are doing a good job, but they need to expand.

Senator Tkachuk: Big issues.

The Chairman: Yes, big issues. Now you have heard my sermon.

Mr. Moyer: The smaller centres are applying to the UMAYC program and are sometimes receiving funding. That is one way to reach out in the urban areas to those smaller groups.

The Chairman: Senator Johnson had a question on languages that she asked me to put to you because she had to leave. How can you see to it that the funding for languages is taken out of the hands of the band councils and the political parties and put into the hands of the linguists in the Aboriginal organizations that are doing something about language?

Mr. Moyer: That is the $64,000 question. This is the dilemma we face in everything we do. On the one hand, the response of devolution, the granting of power to communities to make their own decisions, is essential to the whole evolution. Yet, we know there are times when they do not make decisions that everyone in those communities agrees with. If you have, at the end of your work, an answer to that very pertinent question, we would like to hear it.

The Chairman: We are working on it.

Mr. Moyer: We will help you apply it, if you find it.

The Chairman: We talked about Western Canada. There are a large number of Aboriginal people in Eastern Canada.

Mr. Moyer: Ontario has more Aboriginal people than any other province in Canada.

The Chairman: There I disagree with you. That is a debate for another time.

Senator Hubley: We have had some interesting comments during the last round of discussions. When like people come together, that in itself is a starting point for sharing identities and finding strength within a group. That is a really helpful thing.

My other pet theory is that most people can survive insurmountable problems as long as they have their culture to bind them together. That is why I think it is so important that the Aboriginal people gain the strength they will need to go into the world by reinforcing their culture - their foods, their thoughts, their ancestors and their stories. All of that gives a person an identity. If you have an identity, you can integrate into any society because you take your confidence with you.

I want to move on to the Young Canada Works for Urban Aboriginal Youth program. Is this a special program for Aboriginal urban youth? What is different from what we might expect in any other Young Canada Works program? I would like to know what support you get from businesses, because that obviously must come into this picture.

Mr. Moyer: This program is run as part of the Youth Employment Strategy, so it is like many of the other elements in the Young Canada Works program. It aims at providing people with job experience that they would not otherwise receive. It involves a partnership with an employer, which can be an NGO, a municipal government or the private sector. I am not aware of what percentage of young people are going into the private sector versus other governments versus NGOs. Do you have an idea of that?

Ms Greyeyes: The friendship centres are employers under YES, and they undertake to employ so many Aboriginal youth during the summer to give them work experience. That work experience introduces these youth not only to a culturally supportive milieu in which to work, where they get on-the-job training from the people around them, but also to the broad network in which the friendship centre works. They have the chance to look at the urban centre on a wider basis than if they were, say, working in McDonald's. They get to see the friendship centre working with the municipality. They get to see them working with the YM/YWCA and may even be taking kids to the YM/YWCA. They expand their reach into the community.

Then they move from there into other work experiences. Quite often, this is their first one. From there, they get the confidence to take other jobs, and maybe next year they will be with a non-Aboriginal employer within the community. It is a bridge for them. Some of them have actually gone on to become part of the friendship centre movement or part of the larger Aboriginal structure.

Senator Hubley: I acknowledge that a lot of young people do work at McDonald's. Is that company supportive of your program? Do you have a number of recognized national businesses that support your particular works program for Aboriginal youth?

Ms Greyeyes: The funding is actually totally from the YES program. The friendship centre is a non-governmental organization. The full funding for the salary comes under YES.

Senator Hubley: Yes.

Ms Greyeyes: They are using it as a bridge into other things. Both benefit. Young people who are in computer programming help the friendship centre set up all their computer stuff. The next year, they are in Nortel or somewhere else. They have had that four months of working and getting experience, and then they move on.

We have had people do some research work, and then they move on to somewhere else. We tend to attract people who are community and social focused in their training.

Senator Hubley: But you are not an employment centre, are you?

Ms Greyeyes: No, we are not an employment centre.

Senator Hubley: That is probably the first question I should have asked.

Ms Greyeyes: We are not taking the money and finding jobs for people. We are working within the centre itself.

Ms LaRocque: I think you also asked how it is different from the traditional Youth Employment Strategy. Two of the fundamental objectives are to increase the participants' level of awareness of their native ancestry and to raise community awareness of Aboriginal culture and its place in Canada. To go back to your McDonald's example, that would only work if they were prepared to create a situation that also nurtured the Aboriginal awareness of their employees. I am not quite sure how that would work, because that is one of the fundamental principles of that program.

Senator Léger: This is not really a question. Having been a teacher in the school system, the system for not only the Aboriginals but also the non-aboriginals, I question the way we teach and the way everyone goes to school. I am not suggesting tearing it down because I do not know how to replace it. That is why it is almost impossible. I know they have to learn, but who is right? They do go into crime and the other things you were talking about, but they learn that somewhere on the street. I am not sure it comes from the home. Anyway, that is a big issue.

Senator Tkachuk: We will not go there right now. We must go home.

The Chairman: I want to thank you very much for coming this evening. It has been very helpful and enlightening. The only problem is, there is more to Heritage Canada than friendship centres. We did not get into your cultural funding and so many other things. We will probably call you back to talk about something other than friendship centres.

Ms LaRocque: We will be happy to do so, Madam Chair, if you invite us back.

The Chairman: Thank you very much.

The committee adjourned.