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Fellowship centres for urban Canadian Indians : a comparative assessment of the "Coqualeetza" movement in Vancouver, and other comparable developments in eight Canadian cities Evans, Marjorie Gertrude

Abstract

The continued "stereotyping" of Indians, because of imperfect knowledge and a lack of appreciation of their history and culture, is a barrier to understanding of their present poverty and underdevelopment. In recent years, more attention is being paid to the number of Indians who are migrating to the cities from the reserves. There are two main reasons for this; one is the hope of finding employment opportunities; the other is to take further training, which may be academic, technical or vocational. This study examines the needs of the Indian in the city, how they differ from the needs of other migrants, and what is being done to provide for them. In many instances it has been difficult for the Indian to adjust to life in an industrial urban centre. The cultural values are quite different from those to which he is accustomed on Indian reserves or from most of the small communities with which he is familiar. In his need for companionship and understanding, he has seldom been able to avail himself of opportunities to use existing resources in the cities, partly through unfamiliarity with the services offered, partly through shyness or fear of rebuff. Across Canada, associations have been formed by Indians, and in many cases with the cooperation of non-Indian well-wishers, to meet the social needs of these newcomers. A questionnaire was used to gain information from a representative number throughout Canada, especially on (a) the objectives of the associations, (b) the activities they sponsored, and (c) the problems they helped to solve. However, since so few have had more than a few month's experience, it is necessary to regard this largely as an exploratory study. The associations are providing new social relationships and personal services for the Indians in the cities. In so doing they help them feel a sense of participation, and they also increase the Indian's sense of responsibility and possible leadership. There is increasing awareness that the Indian needs help in solving some of his problems, but that he should be helped in the ways he chooses, and in the manner he finds most comfortable. Indian Friendship Centres can be a valuable base to facilitate his adjustment to the city, and his integration into Canadian society generally. There is obvious room for the employment of qualified social workers, as well as volunteers, in this activity.

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