The Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre was founded on November 22, 1974. This non-profit organization promotes the social, cultural and economic development of its community. The strength of the organization rests on its people, and the Centre’s members and clientele determine the mandates and priorities it will serve at each Annual General Assembly.
| 1974 : 576, 3e Avenue|
Since its foundation, the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre has occupied three different locations. The first two buildings were bought and renovated to fit the needs of that period. In 1995 a great challenge arose and the Friendship Centre moved into a new edifice, which was built to meet growing needs and equipped with the tools to further develop the services in accordance with the growth of its population. The fact of the matter was that Aboriginals were increasing in number and visibility in Val-d’Or.
The new building is located downtown. Increase in clientele and services quickly filled available space inside the three-story building. Soon a plan was formed to add an extension to the building and, after a few years of hard work and effort, the Gabriel-Commandant pavilion was finally built in 2002 doubling the total area of the building. There is now room for the Abinodjic-Miguam day-care centre, which occupies nearly half of the new space available. On the first level of the Friendship Centre, we find the reception area, an arts & crafts boutique, a cafeteria and a lounge. The second floor is reserved for
| 1979: 1011, 6th Street|
| 1995: 1272, 7e Rue |
lodging; it has twenty-four rooms of which eight are inside the new pavilion. On the third floor are the administrative offices, the Social Development sector, the Aboriginal Head Start Program class, the Community Development sector, and a Community hall. In the year 2000, renovations in the basement made it possible to organize an area for the youth, the Multi-Purpose Youth Aboriginal Centre (MPYAC), and more recently the “Little Wolves Club”.
The Centre has been expanding to accommodate a need expressed by its members and a growing population of urban natives. This expansion has a social economic background, which means it contributes to the collective wealth of the urban native community by job creation, render its services cost efficient and promote fair trade. To encourage Native to occupy these jobs and make their place in the city, emphasis is placed on developing essential competencies with added support and training services. Health remains a major concern, that’s why in 2010, a partnership was signed between the Centre de Santé et de services sociaux de la Vallée de l’Or and the Centre jeunesse de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and from this partnership was created the Clinique Minowé, a first in Québec.
| 2002 : 1272, 7e Rue|
The Centre has now been established in Val-d’Or for thirty years and for many it has been an integral part of life since early childhood. For some, the Centre is a brief interlude that allows them to get in touch with their roots, culture and aboriginal heritage. For others the Centre is a school, a learning place and a steppingstone to a professional career. The Centre is a place to exchange and share, and may even represent a life buoy when the waves get too rough. The Centre is also a place where solid relationships between people of different nations are formed.
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