Yes a friend/distant relative can sponsor you if he/she is living there since last 1 year. You have to apply via mail called as "General Stream". Its duration is a bit longer than priority streams but hopefully you'll be able to get LOA(Letter of Approval) within 1 year.
You can check out following forum specifically for the applicants who applied under General Stream. Here is a link:
I am new here.. I am starting to apply for PNP and which is the, fastest way to apply thru online or by agency? I have a friend in manitoba 1yr and 5months and i was wondering if can a friend sponsor me? And what are the necessary docs needed?