New name, old problem
Deh Cho Friendship Centre wants to tailor programs to public needs

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 01/99) - At it's 20th annual general meeting Sunday, members of the Deh Cho Friendship Centre were informed by the president of the NWT Council of Friendship Centres (NWTCFC) that funding is a crucial matter.

"Other than we're broke, I don't know what to tell you," Helen Hudson-MacDonald said, managing a laugh. "We want people to know we exist as friendship centres and there is a need for additional dollars."

Hudson-MacDonald, who was elected president on Sept. 12, said friendship centres are currently federally funded, but a cut in core funding took place over the last fiscal year and another reduction can be expected for the upcoming fiscal year, she noted. There will, however, be a campaign to lobby the GNWT for a contribution. She said friendship centres across the NWT are being asked to question their MLA candidates as to how they plan to support friendship centres.

The Deh Cho Friendship Centre, still a society, but dropped the word "society" from it's title during the AGM, experienced a solid growing year, according to senate chair Robert Villeneuve, who was elected as the vice-president of the NWTCFC earlier this month.

Reviewing the operations report, he said the majority of programs are youth-oriented, such as the newly-established youth senate and the traditional camp for youth at risk. There was also a work experience program and a number of trips and conferences for youth. The friendship centre also has plans to seek professional assistance to help youth further develop their talents, such as singing and jigging, he noted.

As well, over the past year, the building was renovated inside and the fitness centre was overhauled too, he added.

The friendship centre has also been looking into the merits of a recycling program and hopes to conduct a feasibility study in the future, according to Villeneuve. Compiling a database of volunteers in the region was another idea that was discussed.

"We've got some good programs going and some better ones coming up in the future that we're hoping to get off the ground," he said.

New staff members were also brought on board over the past year with Gerald Antoine named executive director, Mel Sabourin continues as programs co-ordinator and Janet Ferguson hired as finance officer.

Elections for the senate were held Sunday with Rene Lamothe, Tonya Makletzoff and Lorayne Menicoche receiving the most votes and will thereby serve a two-year term. Percy Hardisty and Monica Casaway will serve one-year terms, joining Hilda Antoine and Robert Villeneuve, who are completing the second year of their two-year terms.