In this week’s segment of Road to Recovery with Douglas Magazine, CHEK’s Hannah Lepine chats with Ron Rice, executive director of the Victoria Native Friendship Centre.
The Victoria Native Friendship Centre (VNFC) encourages and promotes the well-being of Urban Indigenous People by strengthening individuals, families, and the communities in which they live.
The centre provides local programs and services in everything from early childhood development, youth services, health and wellness, family services, Elders programming, employment, and much more.
Ron Rice has been the centre’s executive director for the past five years after serving as volunteer board chair for 14 years. During his time as chair, he was able to pull the centre out of deep debt to one with an operating budget of $8 million with three buildings for affordable housing. Also during his tenure, the centre’s budget and staff have grown annually by 30 per cent.
While leading the VNFC, Ron served on the board of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, the Raven Investment Impact Foundation, and at Camosun College for six years during a time of great expansion for the college. He is currently on the board of Island Health, overseeing a budget of $3.1 billion, expanding health services for Indigenous peoples, as well as changing the culture of racial discrimination that has plagued the healthcare system by holding a seat on the provincial In Plain Sight Task Team.
In his spare time, Ron organizes the Back to School Picnic province-wide. Children and families look forward to this, which pre-COVID delivered school supplies to 3,500 Indigenous children in 11 B.C. communities.
Ron is a 2022 recipient of the B.C. government’s Medal of Good Citizenship and in this segment, he talks about his work and what’s to come for Indigenous peoples and the Indigenous economy in the future in our region.
READ MORE: Road to Recovery: Advancing Indigenous-led economic development
Road to Recovery is produced in partnership with Douglas Magazine.