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.