Port Alberni Friendship Center Board of Directors Ben David, Hinatinyis Cote, Sharean Van Volsen, John Barney. Missing are Richard Samuel, Ahmber Barbosa, Agnes Keitlah, Charlotte Wishart, Kelly Sport. (Deborah Potter photo)
Accompanied with a roast dinner, the Port Alberni Friendship Center hosted their annual general meeting for the public on Sept. 24. From ages varying from youth to the elders, the PAFC gymnasium was packed full this year in attendance of the meeting.
Executive Director Cyndi Stevens had a lot of good news to share. Her staff has almost doubled in size since the previous year, and their team has taken on many new tasks, projects, and activities for their clients, including developing a new daycare and introducing their new steps to success program. And yet, funding, grants, and new partners have always been a continuous struggle to come across for the local centre.
Their fiscal year audit had come out spotless, their appointed auditor R. Anderson and Associates reported to find no issues.
There were four board of director seats available, each seat serving 2-year terms.
Nine people were nominated, and voting was open for members of the PAFC. Membership costs are only $2, and they were accepting new members as they would walk in to the AGM.
Elected to the board of directors were Ben David and Agnes Keitlah, and returning board members include Hinatinyis Cote, as well as Kelly Sport, who was unable to make the meeting.
“I have served four years, and I would happily serve another 40,” said Hinatinyis.
The remaining members on the board include Richard Samuel, John Barney, Sharean Van Volsen, Charlotte Wishart, and Ahmber Barbosa.
Ben David has been involved in friendship centres since the first Vancouver centre opened in 1952. He enjoyed it as a place to learn and celebrate the culture.
“Do you have two days?” Ben David laughed, when asked what the friendship centre means to him.
As an elder, he focuses on encouraging youth to be more active in culture and language.
“Young people are very important to me,” David says to Ha-Shilth-Sa, “they are our legacy.”
This is Hinatinyis Cote’s third term as a board member, and she describes the friendship centre as her second home.
Cote had spent 10 years living urban in Victoria before she came back to the valley, wanting to reconnect with her culture.
Friendship centres were a big part of her childhood, so reconnecting with her local centre years later was a rewarding experience. She finds she is always inspired by all the new projects and activities they have planned year round.
“It is such a vital part of our community,” Cote says, “It feels like home…it contributes so much.”
The board of directors are still looking for a youth representative, as well as other youth interested in a youth council. Anyone between the ages of 14-24 that are interested must phone the PAFC.