Dorothy Betz

Where there were once none, there are now 114 Friendship Centres in communities big and small across Canada.  Manitoba’s Dorothy Betz is one of the original pioneers of this movement which has affected so much good in the Aboriginal world. “Think about it when you next enter a Friendship Centre,” says the president of the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre of Winnipeg in nominating this recipient. And think about Dorothy Ms. Betz. An Ojibway from the Pine Creek First Nation of Manitoba, Ms. Betz’s life has been spent making the Aboriginal world a better place. Her work at creating the Winnipeg Friendship Centre was just the beginning. There was the Native Club, Kinew Housing, the Native Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Council, the Urban Native Coalition, Main Street Project, United Native Indian Development Association and this is only a beginning. Many say her greatest mark has been left on the justice system. Ms. Betz spent years in the trenches with the Aboriginal Court Communicators Program, explaining the system to her people and demanding that the non-Aboriginal world to cultivate a better understanding of Aboriginal culture. Acting as interpreter, mentor and friend, she assisted hundreds. Her focus on mediation and conflict resolution is now recognized cross Canada with the diversionary measures approach to justice in use in both urban and rural Aboriginal communities. Her honours and awards are simply too numerous to mention. Dorothy Betz was the 1999 National Aboriginal Achievement Award recipient in the category of Community Development.