Services for Aboriginal Families in Kingston after the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre Closure

This photo links to a Whig Standard article with some background.

Yesterday (July 29, 2014) I had the opportunity to meet with federal government officials concerning the aftermath of the closure of the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre. The Centre had been delivering two evidence-based federal programs, the Canadian Pre-natal Nutrition Program (CPNP) and the Community Action Program for Children (CAP-C). I have been looking into certain concerns of constituents for several weeks.

[correction: I am told the Friendship Centre is not closed, just defunded and is looking for volunteers and donations to operate]

The Friendship Centre had to be dropped as the delivery agent for reasons unrelated to those two programs, and a new delivery agent, Metis Nation Ontario has taken over since the April 1, the beginning of this fiscal year. I heard from constituents who were concerned that, although funding levels remained the same, the number of people served by the new office is still very low (under ten as compared with up to 40 before), and concerned that currently there was no replacement for a welcoming place for aboriginal families and aboriginal culture.

When I questioned the federal government representatives, including staff from the Minister’s office (Rona Ambrose, Health Canada) they told me that they too were concerned about the low number of people that are currently being served by the new agent that is delivering the CPNP and CAP-C in Kingston. They acknowledged that the cultural component was important. They said that the new agency had only been funded since April 1, and that the new program delivery agent needed time to get to know the local community and its needs. Going forward, there will be a site visit to Kingston in late summer or early fall after which there will be a detailed work plan with timeline and milestones to meet.

I hope that constituents will continue to keep in touch with me about the progress of this replacement for the Katarokwi Native Friendship Centre.

I thank federal government officials for taking the time to meet with me and answer my questions.

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