Together To Reduce Elder Abuse

Elders from Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene First Nations (of the Kaska Dena Council) reviewed existing elder abuse materials with the purpose of making them more culturally appropriate and to reinforce the ‘together to reduce elder abuse’ idea. Training sessions were provided for professionals, youth and the community and initiatives for further work were identified.

Project Objectives:

  • Build a strong foundation of awareness and support for the dignity and independence of Aboriginal Elders, in the geographic area of the Kaska Dena communities.
  • Culturally adapt existing elder abuse materials.
  • Provide training sessions focussing on Health Team members and develop an action plan to integrate resources and materials into professional practice.
  • Build awareness about elder abuse at Elder gatherings, community cultural events and five community dinners.
  • Provide training for youth through the schools.

Partners:

Activities:

  • Elders from Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Dene reviewed Elder abuse resource materials – Elder Abuse Prevention Information Kit and BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centre workshop materials – and provide input on cultural adaptation, distribution and presentation of materials in the community.
  • Prince George Community Response Network provided a video, display, and handout material for community members and youth, at a Health and Job Fair and a community dinner.
  • Worked with the project committee to create six scenarios of Elder abuse that might be occurring in the community.
  • Developed a poster campaign.
  • Introduced project to band membership through contributing to two newsletters (quarterly).
  • Undertook training workshop. Elders and community members attended Session 1, and health care workers attended Session 2, which was specifically focused on their roles in the community.
  • Hosted two community dinners and used the developed scenarios. This interactive, “real life” exercise was very effective, with a number of Elders asking to repeat it at future events. 

Outcomes:

  • Achieved wide acceptance of project through carefully planning how, and when, the subject of Elder abuse would be introduced, and ensuring that the community defined “abuse,” rather than having a definition imposed on them
  • At the first public event, the Health and Job Fair, young children asked what Elder abuse was and then readily acknowledged that they knew it happened and knew “Grandmas and Grandpas should not be treated bad.” 
  • Each project committee meeting has brought more and more openness to the subject. 

Tools and Resources:

  • Under development

Lessons Learned:

  • Elders and the community have been unexpectedly open and accepting of this project. During planning, it was felt that the first step – to bring recognition of abuse to the community – might be the most difficult, but it continues to be openly accepted.
  • The first meeting of the project was open to everyone rather than undertaking a campaign for committee members and then holding a meeting.  This had the positive effect of generating interest and informing people about the obligations of becoming a committee member.

Challenges:

  • Involving Tsay Keh, the community geographically closest to Kwadacha (70 km), was challenging due to political differences. Tsay Keh Dene Elders continue to be invited to all events but a strategy needs to be developed to ensure that Kwadacha and Tsay Keh Elders can gather together at Elder abuse events.

For Sustainability:

  • There needs to be solid follow-up to ensure permanent awareness, response, and change in Kwadacha.

Activities currently under development:

  • More workshops, community dinners and articles in the community newsletter.
  • Completion of posters using local Elders’ pictures and themes developed by the Elders.
  • Design a protocol agreement with the Kwadacha Health Department’s healthcare workers with respect to the procedure to follow when Elder abuse occurs.