Moricetown has a very busy Social Development Team
The manager, Priscilla Naziel, considers Donna Evans, Taylor Naziel, Karen Plasway and DeWayne Robinson important members who contribute to the success of this great team.
“Donna and I fund the Elders Lunches on Wednesdays, the Community Lunches on Fridays and the Community Breakfasts on Saturdays. We fund the Food Bank, the Family Support programme. And, we look after the Elders Programme, of about seventy elders.”
The Elders Programme is mostly advocacy—helping them fill out forms for maximum benefits, funding the Homemakers, who schedule visits and trips. There was a recent Home Fire Inspection Programme to ensure everyone is following protocol—keeping their smoke alarms up-to-date, clear access through the house, that sort of thing. The programme also covers extra shipments of wood to those whose winter supply isn’t sufficient. There’s also the annual Christmas food baskets and the Christmas Dinner, as well as January gift cards.
Taylor Naziel’s contribution is to coordinate the Food Bank, and cook the Friday lunch and Saturday breakfasts.
As if that’s not enough, this team issues the monthly AANDC client cheques, through Donna Evans, the Intake Clerk.
Donna does all the filing and ensures that if AANDC arrives for an audit, we're ready. “Before I got here, I think we got a 69%,” Priscilla tells me. “The last time they showed up, they gave us two weeks' notice. We kicked butt on that one. Our statistic went up to 99.9%. Yes! They actually wanted to use us as a role model for other Bands.”
The team supports a variety of needs: People with Disabilities (PWDs), single moms, single dads—there are a lot of reason to be on assistance. Interestingly, Priscilla has seen surprising changes.
“Compared to when I first got here,” she relates, “we have half the numbers.”
Members are getting trained, finishing their education and then getting jobs. “Our client load has been cut in half,” she says, beaming. “I always include Karen as part of our team: I refer my clients to her. That Cook's Helper programme? At least three single moms took that course and then started working!”
And then there are those with PWD status. They’re allowed to work a bit, to top up their monthly allowance. Some of our members decided it was better to do something than sit around and collect assistance. Once they got going, having a job transformed their lives.
“I think five of those are working and have slowly gotten back to the work force, and off assistance entirely.”
I am the Moricetown representative for families that are working through Children’s Services. I support these families and facilitate any events that can help bring families closer together.
For instance, at our Strengthening Families Workshop, which runs at least once every year, we help with parenting skills, give the children a voice and ideas for using that voice properly in the household and in the community, and we teach everyone to take care of themselves.
We also have some pretty good facilitators in Jason James and Bertha Pierre.
The rest of my job deals with children who’ve been apprehended for a number of reasons and are working with the Ministry of Children and Family Development. I assist so the children stay within their family, or at least within their community. I assist with the cultural and background and traditions with the Witsuwit’en. My territory ranges from Vancouver to the Northwest Coast, and as far as Ontario. We have Witsuwit’en living at some distances!
I love the opportunity to be able to advocate on their behalf. I have seven sisters and five brothers, and we were raised right. I want to ensure that the children I work with have better opportunities than I had when growing up.
I'm in the Band office Monday - Friday, 8:30 - 4:30, but always available for community events, too.
Our Employment Assistance Services Coordinator is Karen Plasway, of Gitxsan-Witsuwit'en Wilp Spookwx Lax Gibuu/Gitdumden heritage.
My knowledge was gained from life experience in the tourism, forest and fishing industries throughout my career as a general labourer. Upon successful completion of the Office Assistant Program, I worked at the Ministry of Social Development, providing income and disability assistance. I learned inter-government negotiations as the seven Provincial Parks were being established in Witsuwit’en Territory. I then worked with Service Canada, processing training applications with Employment Insurance Benefits.
In my current role, I provide resume writing services, funding application assistance and assisted job searches. I research labour market trends and current demands; the conceptualized Nedihlk’iyh Projects are funded on detailed planned Skills Training proposals approved by Tribal Resource Investment Corporation (TRICORP) an Aboriginal Skills Employment Training initiative through the Government of Canada.
Like my clients, I continue to learn: I has taken the Essential Skills Practitioner course and am currently studying for her Provincial Instructors Diploma, which will allow me to empower my fellow First Nations.