Our History

Our History

The UAKN Secretariat is housed at the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC). Both the NAFC and the Friendship Centre Movement (FCM) play a central role in the Network through their involvement in the four Regional Research Centres and the Aboriginal Circle. Over the last fifty years, the FCM has developed community-led programs and research to improve the quality of life for urban Aboriginal peoples. The UAKN will expand on these practices, and the knowledge gained from them, to systematically explore and share among policy makers the challenges and opportunities experienced by Aboriginal peoples living in Canada’s urban centres.

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) became engaged in the development of the UAKN for several reasons, including:

  • Recognition that addressing the challenges and opportunities of urban Aboriginal peoples requires multiple stakeholders working together to develop a credible empirical basis for shaping policy and practice;
  • Desire to ensure that urban Aboriginal communities are not simply the target of research but rather are partners in the research process;
  • Realization – partly through NAFC’s involvement as co-chair of the Aboriginal Policy Research Conference in 2006 – that there is a significant gap in high quality, policy-relevant research in this area;
  • Awareness that there is a need to build urban Aboriginal research capacity;
  • Knowledge that urban Aboriginal research efforts must embody values and ethics that build trust among partners; and,
  • Understanding that fostering more and better policy-relevant research on urban Aboriginal issues is to further the mission statement of the NAFC.

The UAKN works in close partnership with the Government of Canada and its agencies to facilitate our goal of developing progressive and positive public policy for urban Aboriginal peoples.

Since 2007, the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) has worked closely with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to develop the UAKN. In 2012, the UAKN was awarded a five year partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), which supports research across Canada.

The UAKN ensures that our research is driven by Aboriginal communities and results in improved quality of life for urban Aboriginal peoples. Our national network is established on a model of partnership and co-creation of knowledge. Prominent voices in our organization include scholars, policy makers, urban Aboriginal communities and organizations that provide services to these peoples. Beyond ensuring that our research addresses the needs of urban Aboriginal peoples and provide for a better life, we also strive to cultivate new knowledge to create a better-informed Canada.

Explanation of the UAKN Logo

The UAKN logo was created by using 3 line drawn Aboriginal elements that work together to create a flame. The flame represents cleansing and renewal and connects the three Aboriginal elements: the feather a ceremonial object representing strength, loyalty, honesty and compassion, the Métis sash an integral part of cultural celebrations and the Inuit Qulliq a stone lamp representing the light and warmth of family and community.
The focus of the UAKN and its initial design were tested at a stakeholders’ meeting held in March 2007 with the support of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC, formerly Indian and Northern Affairs Canada) and the United Way.

The meeting was attended by members of the Aboriginal research community; Aboriginal organizations; senior AANDC representatives; provincial and municipal officials; and representatives of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.