The History
of the Swan River Valley
Manitoba, Canada

Swan River Friendship Centre History
The Swan River Indian & Metis Association was first formed in 1961. The Association became incorporated in 1969 as the Swan River Indian & Metis Friendship Centre and moved to 503 Main Street. This building was destroyed by fire shortly after, and for the next while the Centre operated out of rented space at 116-5th Avenue North. On November 15, 1972, a brief was presented to the Secretary of State requesting money for capital. With this funding, a building was purchased at 723 Main Street East. In May 1990, the Friendship Centre purchased an existing building and completely renovated it. On September 10, 1990, a grand opening ceremony took place opening our present building, which is located at 1413 main Street East.


GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
To promote continuous public relations aimed at creating and developing mutual understanding and improved relations between people of Indian descent and others.
To work in harmony with government bodies and other interested groups and persons in helping the Indian and Metis people take an active part in the communities where they reside.
To co-ordinate the efforts and encourage the effective use of resources of the various organizations of Swan River that are concerned with the inter-racial relations.
To acquire, develop, and provide such physical and other facilities as may be required to meet needs of people of Indian and Metis ancestry and provide such programs as arise out of and are aimed at satisfying the expressed social, educational, recreational, and cultural needs of these people.
To establish and develop community leadership and to associate and co-operate with other groups in matters of public interest and general community betterment.
To provide counselling and referral services.


PROGRAMS AND SERVICES


Housing:
This service is responsible for assisting the target group in the location, acquisition, and maintaining of rental accommodation. This is done through a variety of means including the units owned by the Friendship Centre Housing Corporation, liaison with municipal housing authorities, and liaison with private landlords. We also assist relevant clients in their preliminary discussions with providers of social assistance regarding housing.


Outreach:
The objective of this program is to develop and enhance our customer’s employability by helping them identiy their employment/training related goals, determine the best path to reach those goals, and provide the necessary guidance and support along the employment or training path. Also to assist the public with Income Security Program inquiries and applications for benefits.


Recreation:
This service is responsible to coordinate, facilitate and supervise all recreational and sports programming. This service ensures that activities of general interest in that area are properly supervised. This program is also responsible to determine the interests of client group and to develop the programming, as directed, which will meet these interests.


Education:
Education Worker/Counsellor - Student Mentor
This service acts as a liaison between The Swan Valley School Division and The Swan River Friendship Centre. This service is responsible for the development, review and maintenance of educational policies and programs at the Centre. This program is intended to focus on education, prevention and support services. It is anticipated that this service be active in a wide variety of range of community groups, particularly those dealing with youth and the problems encountered by some. Fundamentally, it involves providing a broad range of alternative programs at the community level. This program is a joint program with The Swan Valley School Division, and runs out of Ecole Swan River South School.


Legal Aid:
The SRFC provides office space for legal aid services. This is a drop-in clinic that provides legal advice at no charge. This service is offered only on Tuesdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.


Kitchen Program:
This service consists of a coffee bar and a hot lunch program. This program provides daily hot lunches and is solely responsible for the catering to large gatherings, meetings, and major events.


Hospital Visitation:
This service acts as a friendly face when someone has been hospitalized.


Fine Option:
This service is provided to all age groups regardless of race. It is a program provided through The Manitoba Provincial Government. Our area serves the following towns and villages: Swan River, Birch River, Cowan, Minitonas, Benito, Durban, Kenville, and Bowsman.


Adult Education Program:
The SRFC Adult Education Program is in its fourth year of operation. The program, funded by HRDC, provides an education alternative for Metis adults who want to receive high school credits. The program runs from September until June, following the regular school calendar. Although we encourage students to start in September, we will accept new students throughout the year.
The program operates in association with the Swan River School Division, and enjoys working relationships with several other community agencies such as Swan River Adult Literacy, Community Mental Health, and Family Services.


Aboriginal Head Start Initiative:
The Aboriginal Head Start Initiative is a federally funded early intervention strategy that addresses the needs of young Aboriginal children living in urban centers and in large Northern communities. It is a comprehensive program designed to meet the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical needs of the child. The focus of the program is on preschool children and will include the following components:


*Culture and language *Nutrition
*Education *Social support programs
*Health promotions *Parental Involvement


Submitted by: Donna Fox

Manitoba's Swan River Valley is an area rich in history. This material was a part of the 1998 Pioneer Centennial History Book project. If you would like the history of your area available online, have your historic group contact the Key Rock Group for information on electronic publication.