The Center was first located near the existing Realty building (near Style Rite) in Fort Nelson, and offered the support of Joey Steinke as a Native Courtworker and as a champion for the center's growth. Judith Kenyon played a key role in communicating the goals of the Centre, and its activities, to the community. The official founders were: Pierre Poullet, Harry Dickie, Joey Steinke, Lena Badine, Charles Baptiste, Mary Loe, Herbert Kind, Angus Dickie, Vincent Hollingworth, and Val Morandini. Their duties included planning and implementing activities, supervision, transportation, and to help find funding. Initial programming included cultural activities like the Outdoors Opportunities Committee, which implemented camps for youth at the mouth of Deer River, and other activities out on the land.
The Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society Center has grown over the past four decades, and now boasts two floors in a large center on 49th Avenue. Programming addresses all aspects of health, including: Family Violence; HIV/AIDS; Mental Health & Addictions; Employment; Elders, Women, and Youth Outreach; Food Bank; Soup & Bannock Socials, and also features a Men's Emergency Shelter, and a Women's Transition House. Overall, the Society's mandate is to provide services to the whole community, by promoting unity and health in rural and urban areas, in a collaborative effort to address the needs of Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal people.
The logo, created by artist Larone Lafferty, is a symbolic circle of the universe which brings all four races and directions together. The circle is also known as the Medicine Wheel, or the Circle of Life, which reminds us of Mother Earth, and also communicates that all living things are related to each other. The drum represents a gathering place, with everyone working together, and the red outer-circle shows that FNAFS is a Native organization.
The Board of Directors hope the Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Center will continue to grow, and build more connections within the community. Under the direction of Linda Ashdown, Executive Director, who has been involved with the Center since 1988, the programming remains fortified in culture and the spirit of community.
Linda Ashdown - Executive Director
Ericka Mastroianni - Executive Assistant
Carolyn Burke - Administrative Assistant
Annabelle Michel - Program Coordinator
Sarah Bertrand - Elders Wellness Coordinator
Verna Lee - Outreach/Advocate
Maureen LaRiviere - Stop The Violence Counselor
Danber Villanueva- HIV/AIDS & Harm Reduction Coordinator
Cynthia Butler - Mental Health & Addictions Counselor
Benita Behn - Job Placement Coordinator
Margaret Godfrey - Bookkeeper
Monica White - Youth Coordinator
Madison Gorsalitz - Youth Assistant
Kaydreanna Travers - Youth Assistant
Jody Bottorff - Food Bank
Rita Boey - Custodian
Eric Ashdown - President
Denise Stager - Treasurer
Pablo Bazerque - Director
Father Sean Flynn - Director
"Our mandate is to provide services to all people, promoting unity and health in the rural and
urban areas in a collaborative effort to address the needs of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people."
PO Box 1266 | 5012 49th Ave | Fort Nelson, BC | V0C 1R0
Tel: (250) 774-2993 | Fax: (250) 774-2998
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Closed from 12-1 for lunch
Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society
Executive Director Linda Ashdown
The Fort Nelson Aboriginal Friendship Society (FNAFS) is a haven of support and solidarity, offering non-profit programs and services to the community of Fort Nelson, to both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. From youth, to Men, Women, and families, to Elders—all ages are represented in the Centre's programming. All facets of holistic health such as recreation, counselling and advocacy, Food Bank, crafts, awareness, and community gatherings are supported and celebrated.
Located centrally in Fort Nelson, just a block off the Alaska Highway on 49th Avenue, the Friendship Centre is a powerful resource in the quest for fellowship and services. A non-profit organization, initially aimed to help in the transition of Aboriginal peoples from rural to urban life—it began as a discussion at a table among community-minded Aboriginal leaders, was built in Fort Nelson in 1975, and has flourished over the last 40 years, growing to accommodate the needs of the entire community.