Social grants benefit local children, most vulnerable

A newly launched program with a mission to support Aboriginal heritage in Trail, Nelson and Salmo was awarded a $20,300 grant.

A newly launched program with a mission to support Aboriginal heritage in Trail, Nelson and Salmo was awarded a $20,300 grant from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) last week.

The Circle of Indigenous Nations Society, which formed last year, will direct the funding into its Metis Traditional Parenting and Personal Healing Program, according to Kris Taks, executive director of the society.

More than 400 Trail residents are registered Metis, and the parenting initiative is open to any parent or caregiver of an Aboriginal child, she added.

Sessions include traditional ceremony, drumming and an Elder’s presence in a talking circle, with topics of discussion ranging from the effects of colonization and reclaiming cultural identity to traditional ways of self-care and child development.

The Social Grants Program (SGP) is a three-year pilot program that began in 2012, with an annual granting budget of $1 million, and a directive to support social well-being and address social issues in Basin communities.

Granting decisions are made by a volunteer group of Basin residents (selection committee) that includes individuals with experience and expertise in the social sector and individuals who have broader community development experience.

Thirty-two Kootenay recipients were chosen for the grant program, including five in Greater Trail.

Of these, the Family Action Network (FAN) of the Lower Columbia Valley was the largest benefactor.

FAN received $80,000 to improve access and awareness of existing support services for vulnerable children and families.

The focus of FAN is to set up a directory that integrates all preschool-based resources available in the Lower Columbia through a website that unifies the network of support available to families with infants and young children.

Families in the Salmo area will benefit from a $2,500 grant awarded to the Salmo Child Care Society for the non-profit organization to complete planning and expand licensed child care services with additional spaces for infants and toddlers.

“Last year we did a survey and 82 per cent of respondents with children under three, or who were expecting, said they required child care in the community,” explained society director Cathy Paton. “This will help us reach that goal.”

Another social issue addressed was homelessness in Trail, with a project called “Getting to Home”  receiving $30,750 for its homelessness action plan, a program based in Career Development Services (CDS) on Bay Avenue.

The success of that program continues to grow and last year the housing facilitator completed intake for 44 individuals, including five dependent children and to date, 18 have been housed.

“The impact it has on the staff at CDS involved in assisting someone to feel safe and secure in their community, meeting their very basic needs and being so grateful motivates us to come to work every day,” said Sheila Adcock, CDS program coordinator. “And we look forward to celebrating success with such a very deserving population.”

Additionally, a West Kootenay initiative out of Nelson to develop a low-cost dental clinic to support people with financial barriers gained teeth with a $9,250 grant.

Locally, the Trail Family and Individual Resource Centre (FAIR Society) currently runs its dental access fund program, connecting low-income people with significant dental needs to a local dentist who provides the approved services at a reasonable rate.

“A lot of the funding for this program comes from individual community donations and small grants,” explained Gail Lavery, the society’s executive director.