Cal Albright in his Elvis costume (centre) outside of the Kermode Friendship Society building on Park Ave. in Terrace. (Cal Albright, 2019/Facebook)

Cal Albright in his Elvis costume (centre) outside of the Kermode Friendship Society building on Park Ave. in Terrace. (Cal Albright, 2019/Facebook)

Skeena Voices | A natural builder

Cal Albright, Kermode Friendship Centre executive director departs to Surrey

After 14 years in the Terrace area, Cal Albright, 64, is taking his talents to the Lower Mainland.

“It’s been the seven years in the friendship centre and the seven years working with the Nisga’a, it’s like I’m leaving a big family behind but I know that I have lots and lots of wonderful memories,” said Albright, who is leaving his role as Kermode Friendship Centre’s executive director.

Now, it is time for the next step in his career. Albright left for Surrey on Feb. 3 to become the Fraser Regional Aboriginal Friendship Centre Association’s executive director while also continuing his work on the BC Association on Friendship Centres board.

“Surrey is a fast moving place, there’s lots of issues, lots of programs, there’s lots of room for expansion and I’m a natural builder, I can see being able to add more programs to help people there,” he said.

Before moving to northwest B.C. all those years ago, Albright, who is Cree-Métis, began his career in his home province of Manitoba. He obtained a master’s degree in social work and was plying his trade in Thompson, Man. when he accepted an offer to work for the Nisga’a Nation as director of programs and services.

“It was about minus 35 degrees and my truck was a brick and my wife and I had been talking for some time about moving out west, and so this job came up in this area to work for the Nisga’a Nation so that was like 15 years ago so that’s what brought me out here,” he said.

Albright said that he has always been the type of person to find ways to empower people, and as a social worker he tried to create opportunities for positive change. He devoted his career to building capacity within First Nations communities and working with Indigenous organizations.

“That lead me to running into all sorts of elders, I’ve had lots and lots of contact with elders who have been very patient with me and I’ve taken a lot of my experience from them.”

After a few years in the area, Albright started work on an executive masters of business administration degree. When he was finishing up that degree, the Kermode Friendship Centre contacted him twice with a job offer.

That opportunity was another way for Albright to use his education and experience to facilitate systemic change.

“I think there’s institutional racism that everyone needs to be brave enough to own up to it and let’s create some change in systems so that we have systems that will deliver services in a good way to the people that need them,” he said.

“I see more and more Indigenous people, we have lots of people doing frontline work but we’ve got lots of our people that are running organizations that are high up in executive management positions all over. I look at the transfer of health services from Health Canada to the First Nations Health Authority here in B.C., so slowly there is positive change happening and I think that speaks well for the role and the advocacy that lots of people that don’t get any recognition that are out there doing every day.”

Albright pointed to the recent report about racism in B.C.’s health care system and said that systems in Canada need to continually re-examine its goals and objectives, and there is a lot of work still to do.

“This town has not arrived, there’s lots of issues and we’ve got to work together but I believe in progress and I prefer to be in the boardroom rather than outside, that’s my style, everybody is different.”

In his role with the Kermode Friendship Centre, Albright made sure the organization was run smoothly. He had regular meetings with the board, community and other organizations. He was responsible for contract management, hiring staff and making sure dollars were spent properly.

“It’s an opportunity to do lots of things and there’s all sorts of skills that you need and you need to be patient and of course, again lots of our people are marginalized and all of us suffer the effects of residential schools we’re always delivering things in that context,” he said.

“I believe that we’re not victims anymore, we try to promote that we are survivors and that experience that we had teaches us.”

Albright said he is proud of his colleagues’ work, skills and vision during his time with the friendship centre. He also pointed to his role in the building of the centre’s new home on Park Ave., which used to be a plot of undeveloped land.

“I came along and actually out of my MBA we had to do a final project, so I wanted to make it meaningful so I thought ‘well maybe we could develop this piece of land,’” he said.

Albright’s study resulted in the Kermode Friendship Centre’s daycare and led to a total of 18,000 square feet of space tailored for the centre’s specific programs.

“That’s just an example of the team that I’ve been a part of from the board to the staff to all the people in the community that helped us develop this amazing building where we can deliver programs to people.”

But it’s not all business.

“The staff know that I’m a lousy karaoke singer, a few years ago just for fun I bought an Elvis costume so I put it on at Halloween and just entertain the staff and I like to think that I’m funny.”

He likes to walk and run to raise awareness for different issues, like missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and recently decided he wanted to get better at cooking.

“So I’ve been trying to do that, I’m just a normal guy, I just like to chill, and work for me, yes it’s got stressful moments but a lot of times it gave me a lot of satisfaction for who I am as a native person to be able to do the work.”

“It’s mixed emotions of course, I’ve got roots in this community. Sometimes I feel really excited about it and sometimes I feel sadness because it was such a rewarding opportunity in this community,” Albright said of leaving.

“I love what I do, and there’s lots of gas in the gas tank so I’m really excited about the opportunity and who knows, I think the sky’s the limit.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Coastal GasLink begins COVID screening of pipeline workers

Construction is once again ramping up following Northern Health approval of COVID management plan

A housing location for workers on the new Mills Memorial Hospital construction project has been approved by city council. (File photo)
Camp spot proposed for hospital construction workers

As many as 350 outside workers may be needed

Terrace city council are reaching out to the B.C. Office of the Ombudsperson regarding councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller’s resignation on Feb. 22, 2021. (Black Press Media File Photo)
City of Terrace seeking ombudsperson investigation into allegations of systemic racism

Councillor Jessica McCallum-Miller resigned Feb. 22, citing racism

A large provincial grant will make cycling and walking safer in Terrace. (File photo)
Large grant to make walking, cycling safer in Terrace

Pathway will connect old Skeena Bridge to the downtown

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Bryan Adams with his mom, Jane Adams Clark, at Lions Gate Hospital. (Bryan Adams)
Bryan Adams gives shout out to North Shore hospital

The singer’s mom was in Lions Gate Hospital for care

Shoppers will be able to get their hands on signed bottles of Ryan Reynolds’ new gin at B.C. liquor stores this summer. (Twitter/Ryan Reynolds)
Ryan Reynold’s Aviation Gin autographed and coming to B.C. stores

This summer 100 bottles will be available to the public for purchase across five B.C. liquor stores

An official investigation will be launched after VPD officers were recorded posing near a dead body at Third Beach on Wednesday morning, Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
VIDEO: Vancouver officers under review for allegedly laughing, taking pictures next to dead body

Two officers were caught on video by a local beachgoer Wednesday morning in Stanley Park

Most Read