Location: Calgary, Alberta
When the Aboriginal Friendship Centre of Calgary started receiving calls from community members seeking assistance in dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, they knew they had to do something to support the Indigenous community in Calgary and the surrounding area. To address these needs and concerns, they assembled a collective with 25 different groups, including United Way of Calgary and Area, Elders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous agencies, systems, and multiple levels of government organizations.
The group operates from an Indigenous perspective. Their name, Is kitsii gome, means “Seven Brothers Circle” in Blackfoot. A community driven collective, they work to meet the basic needs, mental health and spiritual concerns of First Nation, Métis and Inuit people living in the Treaty 7 and historic Northwest Métis homeland who have been affected by the pandemic.
Is kitsii gome provide food and non-food hampers, assistance in filling out government emergency support applications, COVID-19 awareness and education, mental health and addiction support referrals, and elder supports. With the help of United Way of Calgary and Area, Pembina Pipeline Corporation, and the First Nations Health Consortium, the group delivered 500 food hampers in its first few weeks. To raise awareness with the members of the community who are experiencing homelessness, they prepared printed resources for shelters with information on COVID-19 transmission and safety precautions. They also put together non-food hampers with board games and books to help with mental health issues.
Is kitsii gome is ensuring not just that community members have their basic needs met during COVID-19, but also that they have supports they require to get through this challenging time.
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