Yellownife’s Avens seniors’ facility is receiving $25,000 for composting and gardening workshops that promote social inclusion, healthy ageing, and volunteering with others.
In turn, the skills learned can be contributed to a greenhouse project the centre has created over the past year – and which is now providing food.
Daryl Dolynny, Avens’ chief executive, said that project is keeping seniors involved and active while combating social isolation.
“Increasing the dexterity by working with dirt, working with their hands, was a very important part of this project,” Dolynny said, “increasing the independence of our seniors, feeling self-worth, and improving the confidence that many seniors struggle [with] in their later years.”
Michael McLeod, the territory’s Liberal MP, on Wednesday announced Avens is among 23 NWT organizations to receive a combined $430,000 for projects related to seniors.
“We want to ensure that organizations can continue to provide seniors […] ways to connect with their communities and access important services,” McLeod said.
The money comes from Ottawa’s New Horizons for Seniors program.
Grants range from $3,000 to $25,000.
Other examples of recipients are the Chief Julius School in Fort McPherson, which will focus on seniors sharing traditional knowledge with youth, and the Ayoni Keh Land Corporation in Colville Lake, where seniors will lead activities like the preparation of traditional food and awareness sessions related to Elder abuse.
Avens Growing Co-op
The Avens Growing Cooperative (AGCO) sees residents and staff working together to harvest newly-grown food.
Avens hopes to improve food security by growing food that can be eaten by residents and incorporated into meals served throughout the day.
Carol Norwegian, Avens’ recreation coordinator, said she has worked traditional Gwich’in and Dene knowledge into the greenhouse’s operations.
Potatoes were being harvested earlier this week.
Potatoes harvested by residents at Avens on September 15. MP Michael McLeod joked they looked like ‘Yukon Gold’ potatoes from a store. Sarah Sibley/Cabin Radio
According to Avens staff, the crowd favourites are tomatoes and cucumbers.
Dolynny hopes Avens can grow its own food “for generations to come.”
“We are definitely in our infancy stages of this project; we think there’s a lot of learning ahead of us,” he said.
“We’ve already incorporated a lot of traditional knowledge in our growing. We learn how to grow in some very unique situations here.
“There is a lot of work that went into this, and a lot of heart.”