Southbridge Care Homes and Kenora Chiefs Advisory Participate in a Cultural Understanding Day

A woman gives berries to some of the senior management from SouthbridgeIn April 2017, Southbridge Care Homes hosted a Cultural Understanding Day with the Kenora Chiefs Advisory Elder’s Council at Birchwood Terrace in Kenora, Ontario, in order to gain insight into the needs of First Nations’ seniors. 

“The goal of this day was to educate and allow the staff and senior management of Southbridge Care Homes to get a better understanding of the beliefs, practices and rituals of the Anishinaabe Nation so that our long-term care homes can better meet the needs of Anishinaabe residents and their families,” said Keith McIntosh, President and CEO of Southbridge Care Homes.

The day began by bringing everyone together to a common ground by summoning the Spirits through prayers and drumming. From that point, the Elders provided insights into their spiritual beliefs and their relationship with the land and those who share the land. 

Three men sit in a circle and perform on drums as part of the Drum CeremonyStories were told of the everyday lives of the Anishinaabe people and the challenges they faced as the newcomers entered their land. Also discussed was the Reconciliation path forward which is being forged today to ensure the Anishinaabe will be able to continue its role on this earth as deemed by the Creator. The training day was regarded by the Kenora Chiefs Advisory as being an important step forward in the reconciliation process.  

The Cultural Understanding Day was well attended with over 35 people in attendance from the home, the Kenora Chiefs Advisory Elder’s Council and Southbridge Care Homes’ management. The Southbridge team was led by McIntosh, along with Richard Franzke, Director of Operations, and Wendy Sarfi, Executive Director and Donna Duffield, Director of Care of Birchwood Terrace.  
An elder is sharing insights with the group, standing and talking to everyone
“The staff and management at Birchwood Terrace hope to continue this important undertaking with the Kenora Chiefs Advisory, the Elder’s Council and local cultural organizations to further discuss and integrate the ideas brought forward in these sessions to enhance the experience of our First Nations’ residents and to enrich the lives of the residents from the Kenora community,” added McIntosh. 

Chi-miigwech to the Kenora Chiefs Advisory, Andy White, Howard Copenance, Allan White, George Land, Lynn Skead, Agnes Paul, Alice Kelly, Susan Fobister, Daphne Armstrong, and Sheila Cameron for coordinating and educating the participants on this day, and Wendy Sarfi, Donna Duffield and the staff at Birchwood Terrace for hosting and engaging in this event.

In photos (top to bottom):  sharing of blueberries & water with senior Southbridge management, Keith McIntosh & Richard Franzke; summoning the Spirits through prayers and drumming; an Elder sharing insights with the group.