The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre is a community-based organization founded in 1974 by a devoted group of Aboriginal people in Smithers, British Columbia. We are one of twenty-five Friendship Centres located across the province committed to building a stronger Aboriginal community. We were initially founded as the “Smithers Indian Friendship Centre”. As we began to grow into our role of providing programs and services to the community our name was changed to reflect the local Wet’suwet’en culture. The name “Dze L K’ant” was chosen. It means “Foot of the Mountain” and represents where the centre is now located, at the base of Hudson Bay Mountain.
Here’s a brief history of our development:
Group of people began to organize the Friendship Centre; the first office was located at the Central Park building.
Smithers Indian Friendship Centre was incorporated on July 15 and moved from the Central Park building to 3784 2nd Ave.
The Centre expanded its programs and projects with a Native Women’s group to create awareness among Aboriginal people on National/Provincial and local issues regarding alcohol abuse, education, health, and life skills.
Board of Directors, members and advisory group of community businessmen started planning for a permanent location. A house was purchased on 3743 2nd Ave. The Grand Opening was a 4-day long celebration with a public feast.
The Centre held its first Annual General Meeting.
The Centre won Second Place for their float in the Fall Fair Parade.
Sod-turning was held on September 21, 1989, for the site of the new Friendship Centre Hall at 3955 3rd Ave. The Logo Contest was won by Warner Naziel, a young artist from Moricetown.
The Centre assisted with the development of the outreach office in Houston.
The Centre assisted in the development of the Dease Lake Baby Project – which eventually evolved into the POP Program.
The Society purchased a building on Main Street, which brought staff together under one roof to better provide services to the community. The Grand Opening was held with one block of Main Street shut down and CFNR broadcasting on-site.
Of 119 Friendship Centres across the country, the Centre was awarded one of 17 National Awards of Excellence by the National Association of Friendship Centres. The award is presented in recognition of outstanding achievement in governance, leadership, administration, management, staff satisfaction, cultural relevance, and strategic planning.
The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre proudly continues to serve the communities of Smithers, Houston, Dease Lake, and surrounding areas. The Centre is a non-profit organization, and a place that welcomes all people.