Our Inheritance: Reflections on Leadership in the Friendship Centre Movement

Research Start-Up Summary and Abstract:

This project will examine the historic legacy of culture-based leadership and governance within the OFIFC and Friendship Centres. The project’s goal is not to generalize the range of leadership methods that exist in communities, but rather to identify and acknowledge the vision and voices of longstanding, present, and future Friendship Centre Movement leaders. This research project will foster a space where Friendship Centre youth, Executive Directors, Friendship Staff, and Elders can share their distinct practices of leadership and governance. This report’s findings will emphasize cultural conceptions of leadership and governance that are best understood as dynamic journeys constituted of many experiences, difficulties, and transformations. The common thread throughout the discussions will be the importance of recognizing what leaders have received as part of their leadership responsibilities, wise practices for fulfilling responsibilities and preparing these leadership roles for future generations.

The project will work towards identifying youth as holders of distinct knowledge embedded in and derived from their everyday lived experiences and location in the Lifecycle Wheel. The focus of the project is to highlight the self-voiced reflections of urban Indigenous leaders using culturally appropriate to:

  • Drawing upon the experiences of key urban Indigenous leaders to understand how to enable and empower others to cultivate leadership skills among our current and future leaders;
  • Document individual experiences and wise practices that have facilitated the development of leadership opportunities, skills, and the impact of service delivery sites and organizations;
  • To identify challenges and opportunities for youth in accessing leadership opportunities within their communities, and
  • Identify the steps for service delivery sites and organizations to enable and empower urban Indigenous people, including youth, to become the leaders of today within their community.


Main Contact:

Magda Smolewski, Ontario Indigenous Federation of Friendship Centres