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Jeff Cyr Presentation to Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal People

Jeff Cyr Presentation to Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal People

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As Executive director of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Cyr gave this presentation to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on November 1, 2011.
As Executive director of the National Association of Friendship Centres, Cyr gave this presentation to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Peoples on November 1, 2011.

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Published by: Lawrence J. Barkwell on Sep 04, 2013
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Jeff Cyr, Executive Director, National Association of Friendship CentresPresentation to the Standing Senate Committee on AboriginalPeoples.November 1, 2011
Profile:Jeffrey Cyr:
has focused his career on providing strategic and operational leadershipskills within Aboriginal organizations such as the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs andthe Manitoba Métis Federation. Within the Government of Canada, he has extensiveexperience with the Privy Council Office, Natural Resources and the Royal CanadianMounted Police (RCMP.) Since 2008, he has been a Senior Advisor - AboriginalRelations with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians -Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. Jeff has a Masters Degree (with distinction)Political Studies/International Relations from the University of Manitoba.
Proceedings of the Standing SenateCommittee on Aboriginal Peoples
Issue 5 - Evidence - November 1, 2011
OTTAWA, Tuesday, November 1, 2011The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 9:33 a.m. to examineand report on the federal government's constitutional, treaty, political and legalresponsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, and on other matters generallyrelating to the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.
Senator Gerry St. Germain
) in the chair.[
Jeff is a Metis, living in Ottawa, Ontario, he is the son of Brian and Vivian Cyr of Winnipeg, Manitoba.Brian Cyr is the former President of the National Metis Veterans Association. Jeff’s paternal greatgrandparents were Honore Cyr (b. 1885) and Eleanore Courchene (b. 1896). His great-great grandparentswere Jean Baptiste Cyr (b. 1848 at McKenzie River) and Madeleine Perreault dit Morin (b. 1868). Jeff is agreat-great-great grandnephew of Pierre Cyr a well-known voyageur. Pierre Cyr (b. July 12, 1835, St.Boniface) who was famous as a voyageur with the Franklin Expedition as well as later working as asteersman for the Treaty 8 Metis Scrip Commission. In 1899, this commission travelled on the Athabascaand Peace Rivers in two scows and a York Boat. Cyr was steersman for the York Boat.
The Chair:
I would like to welcome all honourable senators and members of the publicwatching this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples either onCPAC or the Web. I am Senator Gerry St. Germain, from British Columbia, and I have thehonour and privilege of chairing this committee.The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation in matters relating to the Aboriginalpeoples of Canada generally. In order to understand the concerns of our constituents, weregularly invite representatives from national Aboriginal organizations to testify before us.Rather than assigning a topic for discussion, we leave the floor open to them to educate usas to their membership's most pressing issues. These sessions are invaluable in helping thecommittee decide what future studies it will undertake in order to best serve the Aboriginalcommunity.This morning, we will hear from one witness, the National Association of Friendship Centres.For many years, friendship centres have provided referral and support services in areas suchas health, housing, employment, recreation, human resources development and culture to Aboriginal peoples living in urban communities. The not-for- profit National Association of Friendship Centres represents 117 friendship centres and seven provincial-territorialassociations, and manages and administers federal funding for friendship centres across thecountry.The organization is governed by a voluntary board of directors comprised of 11 regionalrepresentatives, including a youth representative. There is also a five-member executivecommittee comprised of the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and youthexecutive.[
]But before hearing our witness, I would like to introduce the members of the committee whoare here this morning.[
]The deputy chair of this committee is Senator Lillian Dyck, from Saskatchewan. Also presentare Senator Ataullahjan from Ontario, Senator Greene Raine from British Columbia, Senator Patterson from Nunavut, Senator Demers from Quebec and Senator Meredith from Ontario.Good morning senators and welcome.Members of the committee, I ask you to help me in welcoming our witnesses from theNational Association of Friendship Centres. We have Mr. Jeff Cyr, Executive Director, andMr. Conrad Saulis, Policy Director.Mr. Cyr, we look forward to your presentation.
Jeff Cyr, Executive Director, National Association of Friendship Centres:
Goodmorning. Mr. Chair and distinguished members of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, I wish to acknowledge the traditional land of the Algonquin nation onwhich we are meeting today. I will introduce myself and the organization as we go along. Myname is Jeff Cyr. I am a Metis from Manitoba and Executive Director of the National Association of Friendship Centres, the NAFC. This is my first official presentation to your 
committee as Executive Director of the NAFC, and I thank the committee for this opportunityto present on behalf of my organization. As you are aware, the world's population reached 7 billion people earlier this week. Of these7 billion people, it is important to note that over 70 per cent reside in urban areas, amigration trend that has been increasing over the last three decades. Canada's Aboriginalpopulation reflects the global trend, and is now almost 60 per cent urbanized. When wediscuss Aboriginal issues, we need to discuss them in the context of a young, urbanizedpopulation.For context, I am going to provide background to my organization — who we are, what we doand why friendship centres are critical engines of social change on the Canadian landscape.The National Association of Friendship Centres is now comprised of 119 friendship centres— community-based service organizations — from coast to coast to coast in Canada. Thecentres are assisted in their work by six provincial and territorial associations and, of course,by our national office here in Ottawa.The history of the friendship centre movement, found in the cities of Toronto, Winnipeg andVancouver starting in the 1950s, is now nearly 60 years old. The history and evolution of thefriendship centre movement has been one of continual growth and expansion, focused onmeeting the health, social, economic, educational and, importantly, transitional needs of FirstNations, Metis and Inuit peoples to urban centres of our country. Friendship centres not onlyprovide invaluable services to urban Aboriginal people who utilize the programs, but themovement also provides employment opportunities at the local level. Nationally, friendshipcentres now employ over 2,600 people, 72 per cent of whom are women.The overall purpose of the friendship centres in Canada is to improve the life chances of theurban Aboriginal population. Our cadre and continuum of services include prenatalprogramming, healthy babies, Head Start, youth programming, mental health and wellness,lifelong care, diabetes clinics, and drug and alcohol prevention, all of which are vitalprograms that help address the spiralling costs of health care in Canada. We also provideeducation-related programming, which includes literacy, alternative high schools and, of course, the previously mentioned Head Start Program for young children.Friendship centres also provide employment and training-related programs, coupled witheconomic development support services, which help urban Aboriginal people to establishsecure futures for their families.The areas of violence and youth at risk of sexual exploitation and crime are of very highimportance, as is protecting women and children from harm and family violence. Whilefriendship centres have long-term successes in offering and delivering these vital services,there are many challenges that we confront, some of which include demographic realitieswhile others pertain to organizational capacity. As mentioned previously when we talked about migration, the urban Aboriginal population inCanada continues to increase. In 1996 it was 47 per cent; in 2001, 49 per cent; in 2006, 54per cent; and we can guess that it is about 60 per cent today. As well, our population isextremely young; 48 per cent of our population is under the age of 25. These demographicrealities place strong pressures on the human and fiscal capacities of our centres, especiallyin light of the fact that federal core funding of the Aboriginal Friendship Centres Program hasbeen frozen at $16 million since prior to 1996. Even with this limited funding, the friendship

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