Friendship Centre Funding Stalled

Mannawanis Friendship Centre programming threatened with Federal Funding Stall

The Mannawanis Friendship Centre presented to St. Paul Town Council on Monday evening regarding the state of important Federal funding that assists in programming, staffing, and the operational costs of the running the centre. Hinano Rosa, Executive Director of Mannawanis Friendship Centre, says they are facing layoffs and asked the for the Town to assist in operating the facility for four months while the Federal agencies determine what, if any, funding they will be giving the Friendship Centres across Canada.

The Friendship Centre asked for a four month operating grant of $27,908.52 to cover:

  • Rent: total 4,744.24 at $1186.06 per month
  • Utilities: total $3037.00 at $759.00 per month
  • Executive Assistant: total $12,527.28 at $3, 131.82 per month (full time)
  • Receptionist/Maintenance: total $7,600.00 at $1900 per month (part-time)

“The Mannawanis Friendship Centre in St. Paul has 39 year history of providing a variety of services and programming to both indigenous, and non-indigenous peoples from across our region.” Rosa explained to Council that the Friendship Centre does receive other sources of funding; however, “those are restricted funds.” For example monies given for the Head Start Program must be specifically used for that program. “Over that time we have partnered with many organizations on many activities and projects to encourage stronger relationships between all peoples who live in this multi-cultural community as part of our mandate.”

Mannawannis, along with 19 other Friendship Centres across Alberta, including Bonnyville and Cold Lake, received notice on February 4th that funding from the Federal Government that went to the former Urban Aborginal Strategies (UAS) was not decided. With delays in the Federal Budget, Friendship Centres were put on notice to prepare for a four month unknown period. “Even after four months, we do not know if we will receive any funding,” Rosa explained to Council.

As explained in a letter to Council, “Five years ago Friendship Centres (FC) under the guidance of the Alberta Native Friendship CentresAssociation (ANFCA) and the National Aboriginal Friendship Centres Association (NAFCA) which oversees 19 and 118 Centres respectively, were transferred from Canadian Heritage to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) for core-like funding. The first three years funding was provided in a timely manner. Last fiscal year we were told that INAC was revising how funding would be allocated to FCs and we would have to submit proposals at local levels to secure funding. Revision had changed some of the line items that historically was available and funding was not released till June.”

Programming offered by Mannawanis includes, the Head Start Program, Men’s Group for prevention of domestic violence, soup kitchen, food bank, youth programming, pre-employment courses & programs, Family Wellness & Drop-in programming.

Mannawanis has reached out to Alberta’s Minister of Indigenous Relations, Richard Feehan via a letter, as well as the Federal Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Carol Bennett. Rosa explains it is tough for neighbouring reserves, such as Saddle Lake, to assist in funding because their money is restricted to on reserve programming and facilities. Mannawanis does intent to approach the County of St. Paul.

On Monday evening Town Council decided to wait until Mannawanis approaches the County of St. Paul for further discussions with their municipal neighbours. Town Council was all agreed that the facility and its programming is vital to St. Paul and the members of the community. The Town has agreed to write a letter in support of Mannawanis to the Honourable Carol Bennett.