UNFC celebrating 50th anniversary this week

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

The Fort Frances United Native Friendship Centre is celebrating 50 years of serving the local community this week.

The concept came into being in 1971, according to unfc.org, with the establishment of a board of directors and the organization was incorporated in 1973 and their building officially opened in May of 1973.

The Centre provides a variety of services to aboriginal community around Fort Frances and in the Rainy River District. Programs include the Aboriginal Healthy Baby, Homelessness Outreach Program, Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Program and Urban Aboriginal Healthy Living Kids Program.

Many of the young children’s programs are served out of Abinooji Gamig which is the UNFC’s licensed by the Ministry of Education offering culturally based programming for children aged six months to five years. As part of the events for this week, there will be an open house at the Abinooji Gamig facility at 821 McIrvine Road. The open house runs from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Other events for the anniversary celebrations include a ceremonial opening at UNFC’s main building at 427 Mowat Ave at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 21. Then the building will be open for tours from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Thursday night will include a special performance from the Asham Stompers dance group. That event starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday evening in the auditorium at the Fort Frances Memorial Sports Complex. The event is free to attend but there is a maximum capacity of 290 people and people are asked to bring a chair as seating will be limited.

The Stompers are a group of mixed Métis and and First Nations dancers whose goal is to “Help re-capture and preserve the history of the Métis people through the traditional dancing of the Red River jig.”

The website says: “Our Purpose is to help bring hope to our children in our Aboriginal Communities by taking something right out of the community (The Fiddle and Jig) to the World Stage Successfully and independently. The Fiddle and Red River Jig have a long history in our communities and the rest of the World is embracing it.”

The celebrations end on Friday, sept. 22 at the Mowat Ave. location they are hosting an evening with Step Down Band, featuring Wes Debungee. The evening starts with a free community barbecue from 4-6 p.m. and the concert goes from 7-10 p.m.