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BC Government Announces Commitment to Develop Off-Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan

by NationTalk on October 6, 20112087 Views

BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres

For Immediate Release
October 5th, 2011

BC Government Announces Commitment to Develop Off-Reserve Aboriginal Action Plan

Songhees & Esquimalt Territory/ Victoria, BC – The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres (BCAAFC) is pleased with the official Speech from the Throne, where the Honourable Steven L. Point, British Columbia’s 28th Lieutenant Governor announced that the BC Government is committed to the development of an off-reserve Aboriginal action plan. The Lieutenant Governor stated that “the government will work with Aboriginal partners, the federal government and local governments to develop an off-reserve Aboriginal action plan to achieve better education and job training, healthier family life, and strengthened cultures and traditions.” “Over 70% of Aboriginal people now live off of the reserve” explains Annette Morgan, President of the BCAAFC. “As Aboriginal Friendship Centres, we have witnessed the continual migration of our people into off-reserve communities, including a doubling of the youth population in the past 10 years. We are pleased to hear today’s unprecedented announcement in the Speech from the Throne and we look forward to working with the government to ensure that Aboriginal people living off reserve are receiving the supports they need to become self sufficient and to improve their social and economic conditions, putting us on equal footing with other British Columbians”.

The announcement of a commitment to develop an off-reserve Aboriginal action plan follows intensive lobbying by BC’s Friendship Centre movement over the past 18 months. Friendship Centres across the province have undertaken a coordinated effort to raise the profile of off reserve Aboriginal communities and highlight the fact that the province currently lacks any coordinated strategy to address the poor socio-economic conditions for well over two-thirds of the Aboriginal population who now live off-reserve in BC.

Aboriginal people face disproportionate risks and barriers to living long healthy lives, including the lowest life expectancy and graduation rates, and some of the highest rates of suicide, addictions, unemployment, poverty, victimization and incarceration. An off-reserve Aboriginal action plan will seek to close these gaps, and help to address the structural barriers that have precluded Aboriginal people from fully participating in BC’s economy.

“Our people are the province’s fastest growing demographic” continues President Morgan. “As the second largest source of labour for the future workforce, we play a key role in BC’s Jobs Plan; and with an off-reserve Aboriginal action plan, we will improve the quality of life for many of our people as well as make a significant contribution to BC’s economic future.”

“Investing in an off-reserve Aboriginal action plan is a winning proposition” states Paul Lacerte, Executive Director of the BCAAFC. “Our communities know what they need to address the social and economic barriers they face. This commitment from the BC Government to work with us around the development of an action plan will enable us to make significant improvement in socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal peoples living off-reserve. Together, we will lower costs for this government and create a brighter future for our People.”

The BCAAFC is an umbrella organization for BC’s 23 Aboriginal Friendship Centres whom offer a wide range of culturally relevant services and supports to Aboriginal people residing in urban and rural communities including: job training & skills development programs, mental health and addictions counseling, literacy and early childhood education programs, and cultural support services for youth, families, and elders.

For more information contact:

Paul Lacerte
Executive Director, BCAAFC

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