Yellowknife dancers among seniors receiving new funding

Last modified: July 24, 2019 at 3:09pm

Velma Sterenberg danced up to the podium when she came to collect more than $6,000 for the Yellowknife Elders Folk Dance Collective.

“If you want to keep your brain healthy, you either sing or dance. Those are your options,” she told her audience at Aven Manor on Tuesday. The funding was part of a $320,000 federal package announced in support of 16 NWT seniors’ programs.

The $6,259 going to the dance group will allow it pay for a venue, buy equipment, and bring trained dance instructors to the North’s Elders.


“It’s the joy of dancing. It’s being able to move and continue to move as you get older,” Sterenberg said, asked why she kept dancing past the age of 55.

“Folk dance and old-time dances, just like languages, they’re being lost,” said Sterenberg.

After holding a class at the Snowcastle this winter, Sterenberg said she was surprised at the number of people who didn’t know how to do the polka or waltz.

The collective chooses new dance forms to learn each month.

“I think we’ve covered everything but Antarctica – and I’m not too sure if there are any dances from Antarctica,” Sterenberg laughs.


“We invite people from other cultures to give us dance classes. We had bhangra this year, we had a Uighur [visit]. Next year we’re probably going to do Nigeria and the year before we did belly dance and Métis dancing.”

The group is trying to find dancers to teach Inuvialuit, Gwich’in, and Dene dance forms.

‘The only rule is have fun’

The federal government is forecasting one in six Canadians will be 65 or older by the year 2030.

Tuesday’s announcement featured money from the federal New Horizons for Seniors program, some of which will go toward a gardening venture at Aven Manor.


Residents at Avens will receive $25,000 for a project that will help supply produce for the 200 meals served at the Yellowknife seniors’ living community each day, chief executive Daryl Dolynny said.

Representatives of some of the groups receiving more than $320,000 for NWT seniors’ projects. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio

Gail Leonardis, from the NWT Community Services Corporation, said $15,050 in federal funding will ensure a room at Northern United Place is dedicated to seniors’ programming, including computers for those who can’t afford to purchase their own.

Two projects are focused on Indigenous languages. The Collège nordique francophone will get $24,500 to allow students of Tłı̨chǫ to learn from Dene Elders. The NWT Seniors’ Society will receive $18,346 to translate a learning tool about Elder abuse into Sahtúot’įne (North Slavey).

“The only rule we have is to have fun,” said Larry Adamson of a seniors’ drop-in program at the Yellowknife Tennis Club. The program is receiving $5,000 to advertise the Monday and Wednesday afternoon sessions for seniors, where new players can come as they are and borrow any equipment they need.

Other projects funded are:

  • Inuvik Community Corporation: Cultural Revitalization Project – $25,000
  • Enterprise Senior Society: Foot Prints of Our Seniors – $24,500
  • Inuvik Native Band: Elders Engagement Program – $23,935
  • The Tree of Peace Friendship Centre: Financial Management for Elders – $24,907
  • K’asho Got’ine Housing Society: Elder’s Advisory Council – $25,000
  • Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre: Elder’s Program – $14,800
  • Pehdzeh Ki First Nation: Elders Group/Activities – $25,000
  • Yellowknives Dene First Nation: Elders Leadership Initiatives – $25,000
  • Tłı̨chǫ Łeàgı̨ą Tsʾı̨ı̨lı̨ Kǫ (TLTK): Respecting Our Elders – $22,500
  • Kátł’odeeche Ohn dah’ (Elders’ Council): Elders Capacity Building – $17,000