40 years of caring and sharing celebrated (6 photos)Friday, September 20, 2013 by: Joseph Corbiere
The Indian Friendship Centre recently celebrated 40 years of service to the local Indigenous community.
On hand with the 200-plus people were some founding board members, including Michael Eshkibok, Barbara Nolan, Ruby Nahwegezhic, Hilda Syrette and Patricia Eshkibok.
Other founding board members are who have passed include Elizabeth McCoy, Ronald (Rod) Thibault, Jean Boyer, Violet Jones and Francis (Frank) Nolan.
At the celebration on Saturday, congratulations were extended to the community, volunteers, staff and board members, who invested their time, hopes and dreams into making the Friendship Centre a reality.
This is a truly wholistic community endeavour.
The spirit of the Indian Friendship Centre - Sault Ste. Marie is captured in its beliefs:
- In providing a safe and secure environment for the people we serve
- In the freedom of the individual’s right to choose their belief
- In the equality of all ages and races
- Promoting the wholistic approach to a healthier way of life and, in the reinforcement and revitalization of our native heritage.
- Values of the Friendship Centre
- The Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual, and Social well-being of all
- The dedication and commitment of people who share their wisdom and knowledge for the betterment of our community
- Respects the uniqueness of individuals, and our special relation with all creation
The official Celebration included hand drummers Dion and Logan Syrette-Ottereyes, who happen to be brothers.
There was a children’s choir.
Stories were shared of the struggles and achievements of people in the community.
Katie Eshkibok summarized what was happening during turbulent 60's and early 70s.
A special tribute to the founding board members and staff member, Carolyn Harrington.
The Annual General Meeting was held and a feast followed.
It was a time to catch up with old friends and make new ones.
As always the caring atmosphere was encouraged through the sharing of stories, information and the helping hand was extended to all who needed it.
The name Friendship Centre, say it out loud, think about it and say it out loud again.
Did you think of friends sharing the good times and helping out during our struggles?
Did you think of children learning, smiling and playing? A warm safe place to be.
During the celebration one of the original L’il Beavers smiled as he shared memories of the leader Brian Wagoosh.
Clarence “Pug” Boyer spoke of Ruby Nahwegezhic’s language class at St Hubert’s and the life long friendship that was formed.
You could feel the pride in Hilda Syrette’s voice when she spoke of her daughter, Cathy. (Cathy Syrette is the current Executive Director of the Centre).
Both Cathy and Claudette Chevrier-Cachagee, President, shared stories of Carolyn Harrington’s involvement.
In addition to the L’il Beavers program the Centre has provided a helping hand to countless Indigenous people through day care services, education, court workers, healing, assisting in finding places to live, employment services, family support and countless other things.
The Centre has its partnered to bring the Urban Aboriginal Alternative High School to fruition.
Chi-Miigwetch to all the community! (watch for further articles about the Sault Ste Marie Indian Friendship Centre)