Ending Elder Abuse Through A Cultural Training Approach


Us and Our Elders: Ending Elder Abuse Through A Cultural Training Approach

The BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres used a cultural training approach to ending elder abuse by focusing on building relationships and addressing issues of isolation and neglect, strengthening community supports and providing tools for use by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal partners and organizations.

Project Objectives:

  • Elders will experience less isolation and neglect, and will have a better understanding of traditional Indigenous values related to the role and treatment of Elders.
  • Aboriginal communities and service providers will have a better understanding of community supports, and will strengthen partnerships among service providers in the community.
  • Non-Aboriginal organizations that provide services to Elders will gain access to tools, develop partnerships with Aboriginal service providers, and increase knowledge to help them better serve the unique needs of Elders.

Key Partners:

  • Friendship Centre executive staff. 


  • Round Circle, group-style workshops in Friendship Centres in Prince George, Williams Lake, Penticton, Smithers and Port Alberni.
  • Workshops: a) followed traditional protocols; provided and acknowledged that they were comfortable, trusted and safe environments; c) provided food; d) provided materials that supported the discussions; e) provided support staff for those needing extra emotional support; and, f) provided further advice or supports after the workshop.


  • Train-the-trainer approach (10 people) resulted in learning that can be applied more broadly by the participants to their community, demonstrating replicability/scalability.
  • Built coalitions/networks to increase the effectiveness of efforts to reduce Elder abuse by bringing together Elders and Elder support workers of the community to learn together and built a common ground of knowledge from which to develop mutually supportive relationships.
  • Island Health (Port Alberni) and Williams Lake RCMP representatives participated.

Tools and Resources:

  • BCAAFC Elder Abuse Prevention Toolkit – contains information on tips, stats and ways to recognize Elder Abuse.  Workshop/toolkit can be customized based on the needs of the specific community.
  • A condensed version of the Toolkit was developed for one-on-one counselling.

Lessons Learned:

  • Addressing Elder abuse in the traditional circle provides support to Elders and space for healing and reconciliation for themselves, their families, communities and allies.


  • Having enough time and food to sit in the circle, and sufficient support staff.    
  • Elders in northern communities have travel challenges.

For Sustainability:

  • Created sustainability by building a pool of competent facilitators who can teach the material to other people at the local level. 
  • Additional workshops will be held within communities in Friendship Centres across BC.  BCAAFC Elder and Youth Coordinator will be the primary contact.