Elders support focus of new program at Saskatoon Friendship Centre
- EFN Staff | July 31, 2020
The Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre (SIMFC) has launched its Oskawipewis Project to keep Elders and their families safe, connected, and supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The word “Oskawipewis” is a Cree word for “helpers” and this program consists of a partnership with the United Way of Saskatoon & Area and the Government of Canada, and funding through the Emergency Community Support Fund.
The SIMFC has identified some 600 Elders in need of some kind of assistance, which will in turn serve some 3,000 extended family members, according to Executive Director Robert Doucette, in a news release.
The Oskawipewis project will take a holistic approach that addresses the four pillars of well being by focusing on the physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional needs of the Elders.
Applications for the Oskawipewis Project will identify the kinds of supports to be provided to Elders and their families. Spiritual support will include the provision of traditional medicines and smudging herbs that have been harvested from the land.
Emotional support will include assisting Elders to connect with loved ones through technology such as Zoom and Facetime, where possible. SIMFC counsellors will provide mental health counselling where necessary. The Oskawipewis Project will ensure the physical needs of Elders are met through home visits, electronic consultations with physicians, delivery of prescriptions, and transportation if required. Essential items, including toiletries, feminine products, dental care, and personal protective masks will also be provided if those needs are identified.
“We are most grateful to the United Way and the Government of Canada for the continued support of our programming here at the Saskatoon Indian & Métis Friendship Centre,” Doucette said. “The Oskawipewis project will ensure that our Elders are taken care of during these uncertain times. In particular, this funding will ensure that Elders are connected, have access to services they require, and the food security needed to ensure their daily nutritional requirements are met.”
“The United Way believes strongly in the services and programs that SIMFC has been providing to the community during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Sheri Benson, United Way CEO. “We are proud to be supporting their integral role of looking out for those who are the most vulnerable here in Saskatoon.”
SIMFC will also provide any and all pre-existing services in conjunction with this project.