Started with the Common Ground Initiative – a process for local Aboriginal people and groups to meet with their municipal representatives and other interested stake holders to discuss and find ways of working together on matters of mutual concern.
Who was involved in Common Ground? Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association (ANFCA) and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) worked together to support local groups that expressed an interest in undertaking the Common Ground process in their community. A Memorandum of Agreement relationship document was signed between ANFCA and AUMA.
Key Objectives of Common Ground – develop local Relationship Agreements; raise awareness about common community challenges and opportunities; establish how municipality and other stakeholders can work collaboratively with Aboriginal people and groups in tackling critical needs and areas of concern; provide tools and resources and recommend improved ways to renew current working partnerships and relationships.
How did Common Ground achieve its Objectives – It was necessary to honour the traditions of both the municipality and the Aboriginal community – engagement strategies based solely on the uniqueness of each area. Red Deer was one of the four pilot programs in Alberta for the Common Ground project. Four working groups comprised of volunteers were developed to act upon priorities established through community consultation: Leadership & Elders; Cultural Understanding; Wellness/Healing Centre and Youth & Family Wellness.
Urban Aboriginal Voices Initiative – Four action committees developed made up of community leaders and members in Red Deer. The Youth and Family Wellness Committee created an Aboriginal Youth Mentoring Program. The committee had been seeking funding to get this program up and running as a collaborative program between the Youth and Volunteer center and Red Deer Native Friendship Society. The Cultural Understanding committee produced an Aboriginal Resource guide – used to identify appropriate protocols and Aboriginal ceremonies. Since the completion of this project, the committee has disbanded. The Healing and Wellness committee was actively pursuing steps to assist in the development of a new friendship center and affordable housing
Leadership & Elders action committee worked at developing a website: www.aboriginalvoices.ca and formed an ad-hoc group responsible for creating a functional leadership entity to serve the many aboriginal voices living in the city of Red Deer.
This group was titled the Interim Elders and Leadership committee. They hired a coordinator to assist in researching decision making models and governance structures. The Interim Leadership Committee worked at developing Terms of Relationship, Governance Structure and Decision Making model through consultation with the community through a community forum and surveys.
Urban Aboriginal Voices continued to develop the Terms of Relationship, Governance Structure and a Consensus Decision making model. Urban Aboriginal Voices has been working at incorporating into a society. Research was completed and a decision made to incorporate as a non-profit society. A consultant was hired to assist the Leadership committee in this process and transforming the Terms of Relationship into Society Bylaws. Paperwork for this process has been completed and sent to Corporate Registry.
The Employment Domain received funding for 2013. The domain members received consensus decision making process training on March 8th, 2016. This process will be utilized in all domain groups of Urban Aboriginal Voices Society. The Community Housing Advisory Board, City of Red Deer received the consensus training from Urban Aboriginal Voices members. Red Deer Centennial included a Stone Circle Dedication Ceremony in which Urban Aboriginal Voices was a partner of. A community conversation on Red Deer Urban Aboriginal Inclusion and Employment took place on November 27th, 2013. Aboriginal Voices was incorporated as Red Deer Urban Aboriginal Voices Society as of November 4, 2013.
There was no funding for Urban Aboriginal Voices for 2014
A partnership with the City of Red Deer was created. The partnership is known as the task force and is comprised of 2 City of Red Deer council members, 2 City of Red Deer administrators and the Urban Aboriginal Voices leadership circle. The committee has begun to develop and implement a local protocol agreement between the City of Red Deer and Urban Aboriginal Voices Society. The Aboriginal community worked together to establish a community driven strategic plan. The goal was to identify the communities top 3 priorities.
We currently have 8-month (Aug 2016-March2017) funding to create an implementation/action plan on the priorities identified in last year’s Aboriginal community strategic plan. With this funding we were able to become independent of the Red Deer Native Friendship Society. We have a new off ice space and are available Monday-Friday, 9-4.