Since its inception, the Rae-Edzo Friendship Centre (REFC) has led the way in the delivery of social services, primarily in Behchoko (Rae and Edzo), but in all Tlicho communities as well. Created as a benevolent, philanthropic, non-profit corporation, governed by the Societies Act of the Northwest Territories, the REFC exists to build values, character and community for the Behchoko and surrounding communities by providing a safe environment and practical support through a broad range of programs and services.
REFC was Incorporated on July 16, 1985, when Father Jean Pochat and some much younger community activists, like John B. Zoe, Bertha Rabesca-Zoe, Rene Camsell, Helen Hudson MacDonald and Sabrina (Dragon)-Broadhead, got together to respond to the needs of the community with our first formal funding grant provided by the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC). In the last 30 years, the organization has expanded to address the growing needs to residents in the communities we serve; Behchoko (Rae-Edzo), and we are expanding our services to cover the communities of Whati (Lac La Martre), Gameti (Rae Lakes) and Wekweeti (Snare Lake).
The Rae-Edzo Friendship Centre operated fourteen programs in the fiscal year of 2013-2014; about 80% of the programming was youth oriented. The current repertoire of programs employs eleven staff in full or part-time position, and eight volunteers who serve as a Board of Directors. Together; we strive to contribute positive physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual values in a culturally relevant manner to the community.
We currently offer fourteen programs that provide a board range of services to community members addressing: health and wellness; homelessness; at-risk youth after school and weekend programs; children programs; crime prevention; Elder’s issues; and disadvantage individual and family situations as well as research on the health implications of climate as it affects plants, animals, and therefore, humans. Our staff is growing as we develop and secure funding for new programs, and with this we are increasing professional development for current staff to better meet the needs of the communities.