Help­ing hand

In­dige­nous Friend­ship Cen­tre to as­sist people of all back­grounds

The Western Star - - Front Page - BY FRANK GALE

The Bay St. Ge­orge Cul­tural Cen­ter in St. Ge­orge’s now has ap­proval for reg­is­tra­tion as an In­dige­nous Friend­ship Cen­tre and hopes to have a sec­ond site in Stephenvil­le.

The cur­rent cen­tre in Shal­lop Cove, which was once the United Church for St. Ge­orge’s, is the ini­tial cul­tural cen­tre but Pa­trick Park-Tighe, who has been se­lected as the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor for the cen­tre said they are also look­ing for a phys­i­cal pres­ence in Stephenvil­le for ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fices.

How­ever, the sec­ond com­po­nent of the cen­tre in Stephenvil­le is not ex­pected to be in place un­til some­time in Septem­ber.

Park-Tighe’s po­si­tion be­gins in the next cou­ple of weeks as he works to­wards the es­tab­lish­ment of the cen­tre.

He said at the start, or­ga­niz­ers will be look­ing at ba­sic things to get up and run­ning, from staffing is­sues to get­ting tele­phones and other equip­ment in­stalled.

Park-Tighe said the im­por­tant thing is to look to the com­mu­nity to see what types of ser­vices and sup­ports people are look­ing for in the cen­tre.

He said these cen­tres are not af­fil­i­ated with in­dige­nous bands, like the Qalipu band here in New­found­land and its open to all people, whether sta­tus of non-in­dige­nous.

The first one in the coun­try was es­tab­lished back in 1972 and now there are more than 120 across Canada.

Friend­ship Cen­tres are non-profit char­ity or­ga­ni­za­tions that de­liver ser­vice to In­dige­nous people that have moved from a ru­ral set­ting to an ur­ban area.

Park-Tighe said of the cen­tres across Canada, they are all unique in what they of­fer, so that is why they want to talk to the com­mu­nity be­fore they shape what their cen­ter is go­ing to be all about.

“Our doors will be open to any­one want­ing to avail of the ser­vices that we will of­fer,” Park-Tighe said.

He said the cen­tre is de­void of pol­i­tics and is there for the people.

Park-Tighe said while St. Ge­orge’s is a ru­ral set­ting in it­self, the Friend­ship Cen­tre will be lo­cated there be­cause it was al­ways the dream of those of those us­ing the cul­tural cir­cle to work to­wards ob­tain­ing Friend­ship Cen­tre sta­tus.

“The cul­tural cir­cle was the build­ing block that started the whole process and will play an in­te­gral role as the process moves for­ward,” he said.

He said de­spite that it would be more con­ve­nient for people from some­where on the Port au Port Penin­sula want­ing ser­vices to get them in a closer lo­ca­tion like Stephenvil­le and that’s the rea­son for the satel­lite of­fice.

“We’re re­ally try­ing to find a bal­ance,” he said.

He said while core fund­ing for the Friend­ship Cen­tre will come from the fed­eral govern­ment, filtered through the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Friend­ship Cen­tres, there are also ur­ban part­ner­ship pro­grams through which lo­cal cen­tres de­velop their own part­ner­ships.

Park-Tighe, who is from On­tario, has been in the Bay St. Ge­orge area for more than a decade. He has 25 years of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions in fam­ily and chil­dren ser­vices, ed­u­ca­tion, men­tal health and ad­dic­tions and with the jus­tice de­part­ment.

He is 49 years of age and a res­i­dent of Pic­cadilly on the Port au Port Penin­sula.

FILE PHOTO

Mem­bers of the Bay St. Ge­orge Cul­tural Cir­cle are seen in this file photo dur­ing an event to of­fi­cially pass over the for­mer United Church in St. Ge­orge’s to the cul­tural cir­cle. The build­ing is now re­ceiv­ing sta­tus as The Friend­ship Cen­ter for the Bay...

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