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Feds fund ‘new horizons’ for Hay River area seniors

Five community organizations in the Hay River and surrounding area are among 18 newly federally funded projects for NWT seniors announced last week.
Northwest Territories Member of Parliament Michael McLeod announced funding for 18 new community-based projects for seniors on July 28. Organizations in the NWT will see $364,329 go toward projects ranging from elder abuse to the promotion of traditional knowledge to activities like community gardening and birdwatching. NNSL file photo

Five community organizations in the Hay River and surrounding area are among 18 newly federally funded projects for NWT seniors announced last week.

On July 28, the federal Department of Environment and Development Canada said that $ 364,329 will be going to the territories through its New Horizons for Seniors Program.

The money is intended to ensure that seniors are active, informed and socially connected in their communities.

Michael McLeod, member of Parliament for the Northwest Territories announced the money as part of the federal government’s increased investment nationally.

According to the government, $60.8 million will go toward 3,000 community-based projects to support seniors across the country.

NWT recipients included the Acho Dene Koe First Nation, College nordique francophone, Enterprise Senior Society, Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities, Hay River Seniors Society, Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, K’asho Got’ine Housing Society, Paulatuk Community Corporation, Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre/NTNU CFC, Teetl’it Gwich’in Band Council, Tree of Peace Friendship Centre, Tłı̨chǫ Government, and the Tłı̨chǫ Leagia Ts’iili Ko.

Several representatives from the seniors organizations provided statements in the release stating that the money will make a big difference in seniors programming.

“We are very appreciative of the funds receives from the NWT New Horizon Fund,” said Pravina Bartlett, executive director for the Hay River Committee for Persons with Disabilities.

Bartlett’s organization received $25,000 for a seniors shelter support services project that will see money to toward workshops on elder abuse, government services and inter-generational activities dealing with financial and elder abuse.

“With this support, we are able to provide essential services to our senior clients, improving their well being and quality of life.”

Other organizations in the area include the Hay River Seniors Society, which will receive $25,000 for the purchase of furniture and a storage shed. The funding is aimed to help offer space and programs to seniors and enhance social participation and inclusion of seniors.

Sandra Lester, vice-chair of the seniors society said that the organization held a fish fry on July 31 to mark the accomplishments that have been made with the funding help.

She said that money went toward a complete retrofit of the Alice Cambridge Room - an annex of the Whispering Willows that provides all sorts of regular social activities for seniors from birthday parties to coffees and lunches to cards nights and travel and reading clubs.

“So it really is important and it is a goal of our society to develop a rapport for seniors to come and do things so they are not isolated in their homes,” she said.

Lester said other purchases and investments were made too to help improve seniors social inclusion including cream coloured paint to repaint the room, a new double oven range, two tablets for seniors’ use, new chairs and resin tables to replace their folding card tables, and a remodelling of a cubby hole and office space.

The Enterprise Senior Society will receive funding for its Just Jogging Along Program which boosts physical activity and social engagement with activities like fishing, golfing, bird watching and other events.

The Soaring Eagle Friendship Centre received an $18,667 boost to its Seniors Hot Lunch at Your Doorstep Program that connects elders with more isolated elders through the distribution of hot meals.

Finally, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority received $5,000 to purchase a gardening tower and gardening equipment to get seniors involved with gardening as an interaction activity.

Suzette Montreuil, executive director with the NWT Seniors Society said in an interview on July 28 that the continued monies are helpful considering that senior citizens are the fastest growing demography in the territories.

She said it is important that funds go to a variety of types of projects in support of aging people.

“I think it is good and represents a variety of programs from traditional on-the-land programs to elder abuse to community gardening,” she said.

“They are quite diverse and quite a sample of the needs in NWT communities.”

Acknowledging projects that have to do with traditional knowledge and sharing circles is important to keep seniors active and living close to their small communities, she added.

“Because seniors are the fastest growing sector and are now in their baby boom years, we do need and want to see this level of funding, so I think it is great,” she said.