Manitoba

Indian and Metis Friendship Centre vandalized again as plans to re-open move ahead

The Indian and Metis Friendship Centre appears to have been hit by vandals again. But plans for a new friendship centre in Winnipeg are moving ahead, with the Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres releasing a request for proposals to garner interest from local organizations who may want to run it.

Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres looking for organization to take over management

All of the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre's offices were looted. (Photo courtesy of James Favel)

The Indian and Metis Friendship Centre appears to have been hit by vandals again.

But plans for a new friendship centre in Winnipeg are moving ahead, with the Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres releasing a request for proposals to garner interest from local organizations who may want to run it.

The building was ransacked by vandals last month, who caused extensive damage to the Robinson Street building.

The Bear Clan's James Favel said patrolling Bear Clan members found the building had been vandalized again last Thursday.

"I'm very upset about this," said Favel, who believes the building is being targeted for scrap metal. "I don't understand why a few people would do such great damage to an institution that benefited so many for so little, for the price of copper." 

The North End centre has been a long-standing gathering place and cultural hub for Winnipeg's Indigenous community, but closed late last year after it lost its funding.

Moving forward 

Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres president David Gray said MAFC isn't in a position to be getting any updates on the Robinson Street building, because they aren't one of its owners or creditors.

However, he said the organization recently released a request for proposals to Indigenous organizations in the city in the hopes of attracting one who would be interested in running a new centre in the city.

They're also happy to take calls from anyone interested in submitting an application, he said.

"We're going to build a new friendships either with an existing organization, or we're going to create a new corporate entity and we're going to build one," he said.

"But one way or another, we're moving forward, because we can't have nothing."

The Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres suspended funding Indian and Metis Friendship Centre in 2017. (CBC)

Whether or not a new centre is opened in the Robinson Street location depends on the condition of the building, Gray said, but his organization currently doesn't have the authority to go in and survey the building.

The Manitoba Association of Friendship Centres suspended funding to the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre in early 2017. At the time, MAFC cited issues including a failure to apply for funding on time, as well as complaints from the community, staff and board members.

Gray said those involved with the centre previously refused advice and guidance from MAFC over its current challenges.

The head of the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre's board couldn't be reached for comment Sunday.

With files from Jade Markus

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