An advocacy group is looking to build bridges with Indigenous and Métis Elders in the Gateway to the North.
The Prince Albert Seniors Advocacy Centre has created a new program designed to better engage with Indigenous and Métis seniors in Prince Albert. The program’s name, Ota Ta Ya Yin, means “This is the place I want to be,” or “This is the where I like to hang out,” in Cree. According to John Fryters, founder and director of the advocacy centre, the program’s goal is to find gaps in services for seniors which exist in Prince Albert.
“Since 2014, we’ve been having difficulty attracting First Nations seniors,” Fryters said. “For some reason or another they don’t seem to be engaging.”
Fryters said many seniors in Prince Albert are socially isolated, and Indigenous Elders are more isolated in the city because they may have moved out of their own, tightly-knit community to be here. He said the initial goal is to hold one-on-one counselling sessions with Indigenous Elders to learn about them and their needs. The next step, he said, is to get the Elders involved in the programs facilitated by the advocacy centre.
“Once they’ve built trust with us, then we can get them involved in our social programming," Fryters said. "It’s going to be easier because we know them and they know us."
Fryters said the Seniors Advocacy Centre has partnered up with case worker Marleen Lavoie to make the program a reality. The case worker is completely mobile, he said, meaning those who wish to participate do not need to travel anywhere to get an opportunity to speak with her.
The Ota Ta Ya Yin program was made a reality through funding from the Community Initiatives Fund, which was set up by the Government of Saskatchewan in 1995. The fund uses a portion of the net revenues from casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw to support community based projects throughout the province.
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