"A place of awakening" : the formation of the Winnipeg Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, 1954-1964

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Hall, Leslie Elizabeth Macdonald
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This dissertation examines the Winnipeg Indian and Métis Friendship Centre (iMFC) during the period of 1954-1964. The IMFC records combined with the Social Planning Council records and the Beatrice Brigden files at the Archives of Manitoba provide the archival component to the research. Interviews with people involved in the early years of the IMFC including members of the Board of Directors, Indian Advisory Council, church workers and volunteers provide the oral history component to the research. The combination of these resources allowed a fuller perspective on the dynamic between the Aboriginal and non- Aboriginal administrative bodies at the Centre. Although it is often difficult to combine oral and written sources because of the different contexts in which they are constructed, a critical examination of both was necessary for this thesis in order to include Aboriginal perspectives. The archival sources are considerably lacking in Aboriginal voice during the early years because the Indian Advisory Council, the main mechanism for Aboriginal influence at the Centre, left no written records. This thesis will argue that the early years of the IMFC are significant because of the co-operative and inclusive dynamic between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people involved in the Centre. Aboriginal people actively sought and used the opportunities for leadership through the Indian Advisory Council and by seeking positions on the staff and the Board of Directors. Meanwhile the non-Aboriginal Board of Directors and Executive Director encouraged Aboriginal involvement and followed Aboriginal suggestions for programming and organization at the IMFC. This dynamic of co-operation, and the shift to an nearly all Aboriginal Board of Directors, and an entirely Aboriginal staff, is a successful example of the community development movement popular at that time.