In the midst of the ongoing speculation surrounding our economy, a newly elected provincial government, and a federal election in the fall – I wanted to take time to shed light on what I feel is perhaps sadly one of the most short sighted casualties of government funding cuts in our community. After 16 years, our friends and partners, the Calgary Urban Aboriginal Initiative (CUAI) have recently announced they will be closing their doors on December 31st, 2015. CUAI has provided 16 years of exceptional service working as a conduit with businesses and other community partners striving to address the socio-economic needs of Aboriginal people. CUAI collaborated with these groups to remove barriers and bridge the gaps between service providers, businesses and Aboriginal people living in our urban centre. As a result of their efforts they have had a direct positive impact on the lives of thousands of Aboriginal people by being a resource to the community and connecting individuals to fundamental services in the areas of health, housing, justice, human rights, education and employment. The question that lingers now is where will these people go? While a great deal of work has been put in to developing these connections, it takes an even greater effort to continue to sustain and build on them. We scratch the surface of the value of service CUAI provided to the community when we look at where Aboriginal people stand when toe to toe with their non-Aboriginals counterparts. Take a look at this report from National House Hold Survey. Now when we look at the research available on this growing population within the domains of health, housing, justice…etc., it becomes quite apparent that not only is this a desperately needed resource, it has become much more than that and overtime shaped the way services were delivered. It is no doubt the announcement of this closure has rocked the community, and is felt by the many people this greatly needed resource has significantly impacted. I only hope that those involved will continue to collectively build on the success of this great organization.
It has been a pleasure to partner with the CUAI team, and the CAES team would like to extend our best wishes to the CUAI team in all your future endeavors.