Aboriginal agencies funded

Bruce Parisien sighed in relief when the voice on the phone said “You got your wish.”

After multiple meetings with the B.C. goverment, five Greater Victoria agencies have been told they’ll get the money they were promised to provide services to the area’s aborginal community.

For Parisien, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, that meant immediately hiring four new staff. Two will spend their days in one-on-one couselling with urban aboriginal youth in Greater Victoria. The other two will focus on combating family violence within the local aboriginal community. That sigh of relief, though, has been a long time coming.

In November, a story in the News highlighted the plight of five organizations demanding the province make good on promises of more funding.

For the Victoria Native Friendship Centre, the decision by the Ministry of Children and Family Development to deliver the extra cash means a five-year contract that provides $2 million per year.

The new contracts are part of a ministry initiative to make programs as effective as possible, MCFD public affairs officer Darren Harbord said.

“We have been working closely with all the aboriginal service providers to define a service model – one that is sustainable and will provide important services for children and families who needed them, which includes expanded aboriginal services,” he wrote in an e-mail to the News. “This new model will help strengthen aboriginal services – a key priority for the ministry – by putting funding and responsibility for aboriginal services in the hands of aboriginal people.”

The length of the contract is, in itself, a positive for the Native Friendship Centre.

“This is a first for us,” Parisien said of the five-year commitment. “It lends stability to our programs.”

The money will help tackle issues faced by the growing number of aboriginal youth in Victoria. “Like they say, if you build it, they will come and we’ve seen a marginal – maybe more than marginal – increase in youth using our services.”

Over at Hulitan Family Services, executive director Kendra Gage said increased funding does little when the need is ballooning. Hulitan’s contract is for $1 million per year for five years – an overall increase of $511,000.

But “we’re actually in a worse position now than we were in two years ago,” she said, explaining that 15 families with children in ministry care are on Hulitan’s wait list to get help. The three staff designated to the cases can’t help because they’re already overwhelmed by work, Gage said. “Am I glad we got our contract? Yeah, but it’s kind of bittersweet.”

ecardone@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Shaelyn Sinnott of Oak Bay Volunteer Services delivers groceries for client Irene Kenny. The organization has kept up delivery of food and medication throughout all phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Oak Bay Volunteer Services)
Oak Bay volunteers keep critical services running

Duo drove between Oak Bay and Jubilee three days a week, twice a day during pandemic

Two volunteers work to sieve a sample of sand and ocean water through a filter, capturing any potential microplastics. (Courtesy of Ocean Diagnostics)
Victoria startup making waves in microplastics research

New products from Ocean Diagnostics will make research faster, more affordable

Island Savings kick-starts the Equipped to Heal campaign with $120,000. (Courtesy Victoria Hospitals Foundation)
Latest Victoria Hospitals Foundation campaign targets $1M for mental health

Goal is to outfit new 19-bed unit at Eric Martin Pavilion

Willows Beach in Oak Bay. (Black Press Media file photo)
Seven days of sun set to shine on Greater Victoria

Special weather statement warns of higher than usual temperatures

Chef Trevor Randle leads a June 21 online cooking featuring recipes – beef zesty lettuce wraps, blueberry strudel and blueberry spritzer. (Courtesy We Heart Local BC)
Free online cooking course explores B.C. blueberries and beef

Chef Trevor Randle calls them the province’s most flavourful foods

Jesse Roper tackles weeds in his garden to kick off the 2021 season of What’s In My Garden Man? (YouTube/Whats In My Garden)
VIDEO: Metchosin singer-songwriter Jesse Roper invites gardeners into his plot

What’s In My Garden, Man? kicks off with the poop on compost

FILE – Most lanes remain closed at the Peace Arch border crossing into the U.S. from Canada, where the shared border has been closed for nonessential travel in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Thursday, May 7, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. The restrictions at the border took effect March 21, while allowing trade and other travel deemed essential to continue. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Feds to issue update on border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians, permanent residents

Border with U.S. to remain closed to most until at least July 21

A portion of the George Road wildfire burns near Lytton, B.C. in this Friday, June 18, 2021 handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, BC Wildfire Service *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Blaze near Lytton spread across steep terrain, says BC Wildfire Service

Fire began Wednesday and is suspected to be human-caused, but remains under investigation

Blair Lebsack, owner of RGE RD restaurant, poses for a portrait in the dining room, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. Canadian restaurants are having to find ways to deal with the rising cost of food. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Canadian restaurateurs grapple with rising food costs, menu prices expected to rise

Restaurants are a low margin industry, so there’s not a lot of room to work in additional costs

A Lotto 6/49 ticket purchased in Parksville for the June 19, 2021 draw is a $3M winner. (Submitted photo)
Winning Lotto 6/49 ticket worth $3M purchased on Vancouver Island

Lottery prize winners have 52 weeks to claim jackpot

Cpl. Scott MacLeod and Police Service Dog Jago. Jago was killed in the line of duty on Thursday, June 17. (RCMP)
Abbotsford police, RCMP grieve 4-year-old service dog killed in line of duty

Jago killed by armed suspect during ‘high-risk’ incident in Alberta

Patrick O’Brien, a 75-year-old fisherman, went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search for lost fisherman near Victoria suspended, U.S. Coast Guard says

The 75-year-old man was reported missing Thursday evening

Barbara Violo, pharmacist and owner of The Junction Chemist Pharmacy, draws up a dose behind vials of both Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines on the counter, in Toronto, Friday, June 18, 2021. An independent vaccine tracker website founded by a University of Saskatchewan student says just over 20 per cent of eligible Canadians — those 12 years old and above — are now fully vaccinated. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
At least 20% of eligible Canadians fully vaccinated, 75% with one dose: data

Earlier projections for reopening at this milestone didn’t include Delta variant

Most Read