Leonard Montgrand has been the executive director of the La Loche Friendship Centre for a decade and in his time at the helm, the centre has seen a huge turnaround.
When Montgrand started the job as executive director they were in a different building and the centre was in pretty bad shape. And their set up wasn’t perfect—they lacked infrastructure and had offices here and there around town, which was confusing for many. How was that suitable for a Friendship Centre to do its work?
So he made a proposal to the centre’s board to seek funding for a new building. Over the course of almost six years the centre fundraised through bingo and corporate sponsorship until there was enough to buy a new place to call home.
It was a long and lengthy process, with the board being instrumental in making it happen, to get to the Friendship Centre’s grand opening. Now the new building hosts a number of important programs and offers vital services for the community.
La Loche has seen its struggles. Last year tragedy struck with a school shooting that made news across the country. Montgrand says that La Loche is at times forgotten and that it takes a tragic event to make people aware of what’s going on there. This makes it all the more important that the Friendship Centre is able to offer programs and services to the community.
The Friendship Centre can get very hectic, with everything it offers and with the needs of La Loche. Services and programs include a community justice program, strengthening families program, mental health services, skills training and education programs. The centre offers a homeless initiative, providing a hot meal for anyone with no fixed address three times a week. It also offers a number of things for youth: a youth intervention program, a computer lab and an annual Back to Batoche voyageur canoe trip.
The vision Montgrand had when he became the executive director has been realized—there’s been a positive change in the community, helping families become healthier and stronger. But the work isn’t over. There’s always more to do, always more ways to improve on progress in making the community a healthy place to live.
For more information about La Loche Friendship Centre’s programs and services, visit www.lalochefc.com.