The Women of Nistawoyou

The Women of Nistawoyou

NAFC launches The Women of Nistawoyou virtual exhibit with Digital Museums Canada.

Fort McMurray, AB – The Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre (NAFC) is proud to announce the launch of The Women of Nistawoyou – a project funded by Digital Museums Canada (DMC).

The Women of the Nistawoyou virtual exhibit explores the life stories of ten exceptional matriarchs who maintained the livelihoods of their communities by preserving and teaching Indigenous traditions within the traditional land of Dene, Cree and Metis people in the Borealis forest.

The regional matriarchs include Nancy Woodward, Bertha Clark-Jones, Kay Waniandy Loutitt, Dorothy McDonald, Katy Sanderson, Elsie Cardinal, Lina Gallup, Elsie Yanik, Jenny Flett and Mary Rose Pudre.

“We are proud to have the stories of our Indigenous women leaders stories shared on the Digital Museums Canada platform and encourage everyone to discover how the matriarchs of the past and present have helped shape our region and Centre into what it is today,” said Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre’s Executive Director Stacy Gillingham.

The extraordinary group of women were, and are, trappers, political leaders, social innovators, environmentalists, teachers, community developers, business owners, midwives, healers, and nurses whose daily lives cultivated expressions of their heritage and culture.

They touched lives in their communities in various ways and have preserved centuries of teachings and traditions with humility, truth, courage, honesty, wisdom, respect, and love are most exemplified.

The Women of Nistawoyou virtual exhibit is now available to view online in English and French.

For further inquiries:
Stacy Gillingham, Executive Director
Ph. 780-743-8555

NAFC welcomes new president and board members elected at the 2022 AGM

NAFC welcomes new president and board members elected at the 2022 AGM

The Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre is pleased to announce the appointment of its new president Celina Malcolm and its new and returning board members after its membership vote at the 2022 Annual General Meeting on September 28.

NAFC would like to send an extended thank you to outgoing executive board members, Lisa Bourque (former president), Carmen Wells (former vice president), Amber Jane Wall (former treasurer) and Paul O’Leary (former board member) for their leadership and commitments to the Centre.

“We appreciate the hard work and efforts from our former board members. The past few years have seen many successes and challenges during their governance with the impact to the Centre from the 2020 Fort McMurray flood and the global pandemic,” said NAFC Executive Director Stacy Gillingham. 

“As the Nistawoyou staff continues to strive by developing more ways to engage with members and the community. We look forward to the new president and board members governing the future direction of the Centre and ensuring it continues to have sufficient resources provided for our organization.”

The new appointments and returning members for the Nistawoyou Governance includes: 

NAFC Elder: Lorraine Corrigan

Executive Board: Celina Malcolm – President (one-year term), Rhonda Robinson – Vice President (two-year term), Debbie Moses – Treasurer, returning (one-year term) and Melanie Walsh – Secretary (one-year term)

Board Members: Marie Cheecham (two-year term), Joelle Erskine (one-year term), Roger Grondines (two-year term), Lori-Lei Mercredi (two-year term) and Cleo Reece, returning (one-year term)

For further inquiries, please contact the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre’s Executive Director Stacy Gillingham at

NAFC launches Tending Our Hearts Fire pilot project to support MMIWG2S+ initiatives

NAFC launches Tending Our Hearts Fire pilot project to support MMIWG2S+ initiatives

Fort McMurray, AB – The Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre (NAFC) is proud to announce the launch of Tending Our Hearts Fire – a pilot project funded by the Alberta Native Friendship Centres Association to support Missing or Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & Two-Spirit+ peoples initiatives. The funding will be used to support Indigenous women & girls, as well as families that have missing or murdered loved ones, on their healing journeys.

“Women have always been the hearts of our communities,” said Jes Croucher of Pawâmiw Creative, advisor to the program. “The Cree word for fire is iskotew but what it actually translates to a woman’s heart. Our old people say that we all have a fire within us, and that it’s our responsibility to tend to that fire. That is what we aim to support with this program.”

Tending Our Hearts Fire will focus on building consistent and sustainable supports for families who have been impacted by Missing or Murdered family members, as well as prevention measures for Indigenous women and girls.

“We are grateful to be one of three Alberta friendship centers to receive funding to build a framework to address support gaps in the community,” said Stacy Gillingham, NAFC Executive Director. “There is an urgent need for Missing or Murdered-specific resources and we are thankful we can contribute to the community as it grows its support network.”

The program will host monthly support circles with international MMIP advocate Stephanie Harpe for families impacted by Missing or Murdered loved ones, as well as support and prevention workshops that will include safety and cultural identity. Culture will be the foundation of Tending Our Hearts Fire to ensure healing work is grounded in Indigenous ways of being.

The program aims to connect with key community organizations and grassroots advocates to build a resource network to support Indigenous women & girls and families impacted including search and rescue, court system navigation, prevention, mental health, and cultural supports. Information collected will be added to a resource database to be shared with organizations, families, and communities in times of need.

The NAFC calls upon the community to register their contact and resource information by emailing Georgina Sanderson at or by calling 780-743-8555.

Mural Mentorship Program with AJA Louden

Mural Mentorship Program with AJA Louden

As part of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Mural Mentorship Program, the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre is organizing an opportunity for local Indigenous youth to work with Edmonton artist AJA Louden to complete a mural at the Borealis Skate Park in August. 

Louden is a visual artist of Jamaican-Canadian heritage based in amiskwaciwâskahikan (Treaty 6, Edmonton, Alberta) and works primarily as a muralist, and also founded and directs the Aerosol Academy series, teaching people of all ages about art-making and art history through the lens of graffiti and street art. To learn more about the artist, visit

How Indigenous Youth Can Take Part:

In order to attend the Borealis Skate Park Mural development, youth need to attend the Mural Academy workshop on July 31. This is a two-hour workshop with AJA Louden to teach participants how to safely use aerosols and other tools on temporary walls. The workshops start with a 30-minute lecture, and safety instructions and are followed by a technique and tool demonstration. All materials will be provided. Limited to Ages 12+. Youth will also attend a two-hour program to determine the mural concept on August 5.


Contact the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre’s Students Coordinator at to register for both. Please note: There are 15 spots available.


Mural Academy: July 31

Time: 4 PM to 6 PM

Location: Municipal Parking Lot, in front of the Bridgeport Inn (Biggs Ave. & Morrison St.)

Mural Concept Development: August 5

Time: 4 PM to 6 PM

Location: Unifor Local 707A (10019 MacDonald Avenue)

Borealis Skate Park Mural Installation: August 6 & 7

Time: 11 AM to 6 PM

Location: Borealis Skate Park

PROGRAM COLLABORATION: The Mural Mentorship Program is proudly presented by Public Art Wood Buffalo in partnership with the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre and the Wood Buffalo Integrated Youth Network. Click here to read the full news release online. 

Government seeks Indigenous artists to create memorial

Government seeks Indigenous artists to create memorial

The Alberta Government is seeking Indigenous artists to design a monument for the Residential Schools Memorial.

On June 25, 2021, the Alberta government announced it would work with Indigenous communities to establish a permanent memorial on the Alberta legislature grounds for the victims of the residential school system.

According to the news release, the provincial government has asked leaders of Indigenous organizations to be on a consultation panel, create an expression of interest, review submissions and choose one or more artists to design the memorial.

The Residential Schools Memorial Advisory Panel was established to develop a vision for the memorial with consultation from Indigenous communities, review eligible artist submissions and recommend an artist to create the memorial.

“The memorial matters because of where we have journeyed and who we are,” said Elder Bert Auger of Whitefish Lake First Nation. “This is to never forget the residential school experience.”

The chosen artist is expected to be announced this fall.

Artist eligibility

Any Indigenous artist or artist-led teams, collectives or partnerships of artists from or living in Alberta are welcome to submit an expression of interest. Recent familial connections to Alberta First Nations or with the Metis Settlements and Métis Nation Regions are required.

Expression of Interest

Eligible proposals must:

  • include a Letter of Interest for the proposed concept
  • include a resume/CV/biography(ies) in the application
  • demonstrate experience and ability to manage and deliver the scope of work proposed
  • include examples of public artwork with a clear demonstration of how the final project will be delivered with pictures/images
  • include a rendering or image to support the proposed concept attached
  • demonstrate a meaning/impression/story of how the proposal reflects the history of residential schools in Alberta
  • include a connection to Indigenous communities in Alberta

The panel will only consider proposals that meet these submission requirements.

To apply and learn more about the criteria, visit the Alberta Government website.

National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration coming to Heritage Village on June 21 

National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration coming to Heritage Village on June 21 

Fort McMurray, AB – The Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre (NAFC) is hosting a community celebration to honour the 26th anniversary of National Indigenous Peoples Day at Fort McMurray Heritage Village on June 21.

National Indigenous Peoples Day takes place on the summer solstice each year during National Indigenous Heritage Month, and it’s a special occasion to welcome everyone to learn more about the culture and heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. 

NAFC’s Executive Director Stacy Gillingham explains how the Centre is happy to be able to host an in-person celebration after the past event postponements due to the pandemic.

“We’ve been anticipating this event tremendously as we see the value in bringing our community together to share the heritage and culture of our Indigenous peoples,” she said. “We’ve selected Heritage Village as our event location because history matters. Together, we can honour and celebrate why this day and National Indigenous History Month is important to our region and nation.”

The event will start at 4 p.m. with a cultural ceremony, including a land acknowledgement by NAFC representative Georgina Sanderson and prayer by Fort McMurray Métis Leonard Hansen. The ceremony will conclude with an Elder Blessing by Denesuline Elder Charles Nokoho singing and Denesuline Drummer Allen Tssessaze.

The family-friendly celebration will continue with an art activity to invite guests to paint ‘what reconciliation means to them’ under a canopy of tents. Guests will also receive welcomes from mascots Rooty, the A&W Root Beer bear and Nitotem, the Wood Buffalo 2023 Arctic Winter Games (AWG) lynx. AWG representatives will have Indigenous games and trivia to play. 

Food and refreshments will be served until the event wrap-up at 6:30 p.m., thanks to the generosity of Culligan Water, Educo Holdings Ltd., Herc Equipment Rental, Joly’s Your Independent Grocer, McMurray Métis, Parents of Panthers and Western Restaurant Franchises Inc. (Fort McMurray A&W restaurants).   

Inaugural Burgers for Friendship event raises over $2.5K on National Day of Awareness of MMIWG2S+

Inaugural Burgers for Friendship event raises over $2.5K on National Day of Awareness of MMIWG2S+

Fort McMurray, AB – Western Restaurant Franchise Inc., A&W Fort McMurray Franchisee raised $2,500 for the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre (NAFC) during the inaugural Burgers for Friendship event on May 5.

“We can’t thank A&W and their wonderful teams enough for their support on our fundraiser,” said NAFC’s Executive Director Stacy Gillingham. “We appreciate all the community support and efforts made to raise awareness on such an important day. We are excited to work with A&W to make this opportunity an annual fundraiser.”

Fort McMurray’s A&W locations teamed up with NAFC on the National Day of Awareness for MMIWG2S+ to raise funding support for the Centre’s community programs and services. Marie Dejon-Cruz, Area Manager – Fort McMurray Region of Western Restaurant Franchises Inc., said they plan to continue making the Burgers for Friendship event an annual initiative.

“We hope to do this every year going forward. Everyone was moved by the event and thought it was both timely and gratifying to have a small impact on such a tragic and important initiative.”

NAFC representatives gathered at A&W’s downtown location on Franklin Avenue with community ambassadors, businesses and organizations. Prestige Jewellers donated $2,000 in jewellery for a raffle draw to support the cause and event.

Special thanks to Fort McMurray Public School Division teacher Brooke McMillan and the students of Holy Trinity Catholic High School’s culinary arts program for raising $450 through their Red Dress cookie bake sale.

To learn more about the programs and services available at the Nistawoyou Association Friendship Centre, visit