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.