Happy Summer from the Southern Gulf Islands Community Resource Centre! We are writing to provide you with a quick update on the many projects the CRC has been working on over the last year. The CRC has been busy keeping our Southern Gulf Islands community connected and providing opportunities to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hard-working team of staff and dedicated volunteers has prioritized supporting vulnerable residents, providing opportunities to learn new skills, staying safe while dealing with everyday life and preparing for a resilient future. The CRC will continue to provide and develop programs that strengthen our Southern Gulf Islands community as we navigate beyond the pandemic.
The importance of Food Security on the Southern Gulf Islands was quickly emphasized by the pandemic. The SGICRC’s Food Security program has become our most valuable resource during COVID. Food assistance including garden matching, grocery pick-up and delivery, and supplemental lunch and snack programs are now instrumental on all the islands. These temporary pandemic relief programs have led to the development of permanent programs that will be continued with additional measures once COVID funding ends. By partnering with the food banks, assisted living centres and elementary schools, our Food Security program has helped to ensure residents of Galiano, Mayne, Pender and Saturna have access to healthy food at all times.
The SGICRC established a Grocery Assistance program for Islanders who are isolating, quarantining, experiencing mobility issues or lacking transportation. Volunteers shop at local grocery stores and deliver groceries directly to those in need; these deliveries often turn into friendly visits and are well received. This program proved especially invaluable during the Winter months when snow made for treacherous road conditions.
The Garden Matching program has grown by leaps and bounds and now includes access to community gardens on each Island. In collaboration with the Gulf Islands Food Co-op and local Garden Club volunteers, the Seed Library program has been expanded to offer training and guidance to help Islanders get started with food production and a pilot project of six Aero-Gardens were purchased for seniors and people with mobility issues to allow them to grow some of their own healthy food using hydroponic systems right in their kitchens. This successful program will continue to progress in the next year.
The Hot Meal/Freeze and Share Program offers both fresh and quick-frozen meals and soups prepared by professional chefs on each Island every week that are delivered to or picked-up by vulnerable seniors and low-income families. In addition, Food Hampers were prepared for all registered low-income seniors, families, and persons with disabilities during the December holidays. The hampers were delivered across all four Islands and incorporated a variety of food, including a full turkey dinner serving for each person. The CRC’s partnership with local thrift shops and food banks offered additional supplies including clothing and craft items with each hamper.
The supplemental food Lunch Program was particularly successful on Mayne Island. The number of families with young children in receipt of food bank hampers reached 1 in 5 by the Fall of 2020, prompting the SGICRC to add supplementary nutrition through a lunch program at the local school. Fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, and prepared frozen convenience meals such as burritos supplemented inadequate student lunches and were available to all students, preventing a stigma being placed on students in need. We hope to expand this program across all the Islands and continue during the next school year.
Food Preservation is a key element of Food Security on the Islands. The fruit gleaned during the Summer from local orchards was collected and a food preservation workshop was developed to train selected families and seniors in need how to preserve the fruit for the Winter months. A small socially distanced group met outside on each island to learn preservation techniques and an educational video was created as a takeaway for the future.
Supporting the well-being of Islanders is a main priority of the SGICRC. Our kind Volunteers provide re-assurance calls and regular “friendly visits” by phone and occasional in person one-on-one visits with seniors and people with disabilities throughout the year. Online supportive counselling and mental health counselling via a partnership with the Health Centre was added to the Well-Being Program as increased isolation during the pandemic put additional pressure on families and individuals. To relieve some of the winter monotony, DIY Craft and Care Kits were prepared and distributed by Volunteers and offered to seniors and children of low-income families. These kits, especially prepared for each interested senior or family, included craft supplies, crosswords and other materials based on the recipient’s interests. Activity kits for children also included puzzles, reading books and games. These kits became so popular that the SGICRC is now establishing Volunteer-run puzzle/game ‘libraries’
at each Island’s Community Resource Centre.
The SGICRC continues to support community building and developing inter-generational connections. The Grandparent Storytelling Project
in collaboration with Chris Wakaluk’s podcast “The Stories That Brought You Here” has been a tremendous success. Heartfelt stories about life on the Islands garnered a good number of storytellers. The stories were shared with local children online, and with schools and daycares as ‘virtual grandparents.’ Given the number of characters on the Islands with stories to tell, we hope to continue this project in the Fall. Some of the seniors have been matched to Island children and youth, by request, to continue developing a bond. The SGICRC hopes that in the future activities may be participant-guided, so that both the ‘Grandparent’ and child can share their own knowledge such as scrapbooking, art etc.
The Computer Savvy Seniors
program offered a wide range of virtual computer courses and workshops over the Winter months taught by local experts. Topics included avoiding online fraud, basic computer skills, building an online business, using Zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify and accessing online health and government sites. Our next session of courses will begin in the Fall, hopefully with a combination of virtual and in-person sessions.
The CRC is actively recruiting course instructors to lead two hour tech workshops this Fall, helping folks navigate technology they may not be familiar with. These are decently paid instructor roles and the course will be offered from September onward. Courses will likely be hosted in a hybrid model of Zoom and/or in-person. If you have skills to share, or are interested in talking about possible workshop ideas, please email Carol at email@example.com
Heritage Skills Keepers
The Community Resource Centre is partnering with the Pender Community Hall for this exciting activity. Are you knowledgeable or skilled in self sufficiency skills? Are you a D.I.Y. savant? Are you a Fall Fair champion? The youth and adults of our community need your help! The unpredictability of the world has ignited their desire to gain the lost arts of homesteading and self sufficiency and they would like mentorship and guidance. This group of knowledgeable and want to be knowledgeable, will meet regularly to talk about what skills and experiences are needed to manage more like our homesteader forebearers. Please let us know if you are interested in joining us or what skills you can share. Call 250-629-3669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Heritage Food Skills Workshops and Food Programs
The Community Resource Centre is partnering with the Pender Community Hall on Food Skills Workshops. Some of the workshops planned include discussion groups on food literacy topics, film screenings, breadmaking, preservation, farm tours, seasonal local foods, making nut milks, dying textiles with food waste, ethical foraging, and many more! We are also looking into creating an oral history project from the perspective of residents and their favourite local, seasonal recipes. Write us if you have any questions or more ideas! email@example.com
SGI Non-profit Leaders Network
The monthly meetup is a place for SGI Non-profit Leaders to have a place to discuss issues, trends and connect with each other. With no agenda, topics are diverse, meaningful and very valuable for those in attendance. The next meeting will be held August 5 at 10:30. FMI or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Youth Activity Night
The Pender Community Hall is partnering with the SGI Community Resource Centre and the Epicentre to host a weekly Youth Night. Registration is required and limited to youth 13 – 21 years old, FMI call 250-629-3669 email email@example.com
Adventure Earth – Weekly
The Community Resource Centre is partnering with the Pender Community Hall for weekly activity for youth 13 – 18 years interested in outdoor leadership, wilderness skills, environmental leadership, food security, farming skills and civic engagement! Older youth may be interested in joining as assistant leaders! Each week is something different, we may challenge ourselves to climb a mountain, go to a local farm to meet the animals and help in the garden, volunteer to help a local organization, travel off island to a special site, or learn how to lead games and other activities! FMI call 250-629-3669 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ṮEṮÁĆES Revitalization Project
For more information contact project co-coordinators: Tye Swallow, W̱SÁNEĆ School Board – email@example.com
and Peter Paré, Community Resources Centre – firstname.lastname@example.org