Maskwacis Elder Mentoring Program connects Elders with young parents

  • Jan. 26, 2021 9:00 a.m.
Maskwacis mentoring logo

By Chevi Rabbit

For Black Press Media

The Maskwacis Elders Mentoring Program, which is an opportunity for parents-to-be to receive support from Elders, is led by Dr. Richard Oster from the University of Alberta. In a collaborative and respective way, the program team developed and implemented an Elders Mentoring Program to provide support for parents-to-be.

“I’ve been working in partnership with Maskwacis Elders and community members from Maskwacis for over five years,” said Dr. Oster.

“We work together to implement and evaluate community-led and community-derived strategies to improve the health and well-being of parents-to-be and their babies.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Elders would provide support face-to-face at the Wetaskiwin Primary Care Network (PCN).

“We’ve had to adapt our program so that parents can get support virtually,” he said.

“Before the pandemic, Elders and parents in the program laughed, told stories, gave out healthy snacks, did cultural displays, and worked to empower pregnant and postpartum moms and dads.”

During the pandemic, face-to-face mentoring has not been possible.

“Therefore, we are offering virtual sessions with Elders that are one-on-one. Moms and dads can get support from Elders over Zoom or the telephone,” said Oster.

Both female and male Elders are available.

“They provide cultural, spiritual, social and emotional support that parents wouldn’t get from their western care team and they meet parents where they are at and their support and guidance is multi-layered and specific to what parents are dealing with on a day-to-day basis,” said Oster.

Oster added the program is an opportunity to rebuild inter-generational connections and pass on traditional teachings. Cultural reclamation, rebuilding severed ties and reconciliation are incorporated into what the Elders provide.

Clainia Potts is a member of Montana First Nation and a research assistant for Dr. Richard Oster.

“What I have seen is that they are just reaching out to expectant and new parents by phone or online,” said Potts.

“The elders were available at the Primary Care Network pre-COVID and they are finding new ways to reach the moms and dads.”

Potts hopes the program will give support to those young moms who don’t have a support system in place. “Having a baby on your own and having someone to ask questions is such an important part in a young mom’s life and sadly there are so many of our young parents who don’t have that support,” she said.

“I would like to see the program grow so all the members have support in more areas (such as) the prenatal programs in the nations,” said Potts.

Muriel Lee is Cree/Saulteau/Dane_Zaa from the Ermineskin Cree Nation. She has been an Elder with the program since 2017.

“My role is to support young mothers and provide culturally appropriate support. Most of our young peoples are distant from Cree Culture,” said Elder Lee.

Idigenous people have lost a lot of their culture over the last 150 years from residential school experiences and ongoing aggressive assimilation tactics, she says.

“Today, the average person knows they are First Nation. However, they don’t have the value and belief system. There is a deep loss of connection to their Indigenous ancestral teachings,” said Elder Lee.

“This has brought the current social condition that we as Indigenous people experience that include, high poverty rates, poorer health, identity issues, violence, high suicide rates, drug abuse, MMIW, MMIM, exploitation, loss of land and language.

“I teach them traditional parenting and I also speak to them in their language, short paraphrases and Cree concepts. I connect them to who they are as Indigenous people. As Elders in the program, we want them to have strong children. We want the child they carry to become a strong child,” said Elder Lee.

“Every generation should become more culturally aware, so that the Nation becomes stronger with every new generation.”

IndigenousMaskwacisParenting

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo)
Red Deer down to 102 active COVID-19 cases

Central zone has 332 cases with 26 in hospital and five in ICU

Storm clouds gathered in Mulhurst, Alta., just before noon June 15, 2021. Photo/ Dan Moster.
Areas of County of Wetaskiwin remain under severe thunderstorm watch

Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for areas of the County.

Maskwacis Pride crosswalk (Left to right): Montana First Nation Councillor Reggie Rabbit, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Louise Omeasoo, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Katherine Swampy, Samson Cree Nation Councillor Shannon Buffalo, Samson Cree Nation Chief Vern Saddleback.
Pride in Maskwacis

The 4th inaugural Maskwacis Pride crosswalk painting took place on Saturday June 12th, 2021

The Government of Alberta identified 115 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the provincial total to 3,089.
(Black Press file photo)
Red Deer COVID cases continue to fall

114 cases in Red Deer, down one from Saturday

Manluk Centre/ Impress
Manluk Centre re-opens to the public

Drop in and registered programs will be available; one-third facility capacity to be followed.

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers tested more than 230 commonly used cosmetics and found that 56% of foundations and eye products, 48% of lip products and 47% of mascaras contained high levels of fluorine

Annamie Paul, leader of the Green Party of Canada, speaks at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on June 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul facing no-confidence motion from party brass

move follows months of internal strife and the defection of MP Jenica Atwin to the Liberals

Tulips bloom in front of the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Day two of a full week of scheduled hearings will be heard in Federal Court today on a case involving Indigenous children unnecessarily taken into foster care by what all parties call Canada’s “broken child welfare system.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
AFN slams Ottawa for ‘heartless’ legal challenge of First Nations child compensation

2019 decision awarded $40,000 to each Indigenous child removed before 2006

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

In this Saturday, May 29, 2021, file photo, people crowd the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, Calif. California, the first state in America to put in place a coronavirus lockdown, is now turning a page on the pandemic. Most of California’s coronavirus restrictions will disappear Tuesday, June 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
With COVID tamed, it’s a ‘grand reopening’ in California

No more state rules on social distancing, no more limits on capacity, no more mandatory masks

Most Read