On-Reserve Income Assistance Quarterly Meeting on September 14th and 15th at Prairieland Park

On September 14th and 15th Saskatchewan First Nation Family and Community Institute (SFNFCI) hosted the On-Reserve Income Assistance Quarterly Meeting at Prairieland Park. A blended approach was offered to the meeting attendees. Most people opted to attend in person. A total of eighty-two meeting delegates were in attendance, this included IA administrators, organization representatives, guest speakers, and SFNFCI staff. Ernestine Starr provided elder support during the 2-day meeting.

SFNFCI is pleased to offer the ongoing coordination of network meetings with On-Reserve Income Assistance Program (IAP) administrators. Meetings contribute to the ongoing review of ways to improve the IA program while enhancing knowledge of best practices with respect to client centered approaches. Quarterly meetings provide a platform for critical IA program review and engagement amongst stakeholders. Throughout the quarterly meeting the group shared a brief update of what is going on in their communities. All of which shared successes, challenged and plans for their communities.

On the first day of the meeting new staff members were introduced to the group; Kayla Rosteski-Merasty and Carrie Shingoose. Notes from the most previous meeting that took place on June 7th and 8thwere reviewed. Karen Pelletier, Director of Child Welfare and Social Development from Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations was first guest to share updates. She has been in her role for 1 year. Karen shared updates on the FSIN Regional Social Development Advisory Group and that they will be looking for expertise in this area and other areas. An update was also given about the AFN TWSDG Meetings.  

Next on the agenda was Lisa Shingoose, VP Employment Development and Careers at Saskatchewan Indigenous Institute of Technologies. Lisa, joined by her colleagues Shannon Poundmaker and Shawneen Bird presented information on the Saskatchewan Indian Training Assessment Group (SITAG). SITAG is a network of Tribal Councils and Independent First Nations that provides employment development opportunities to First Nation people living in Saskatchewan. The network provides employment services that help people find careers, connects people with information, decision-making tools, skill development activities, and sponsorship opportunities to help people prepare for the workforce. SITAG provides support that will help people succeed in pre-employment training and the workforce. The network highlighted that they have longstanding relationships with local employers and provide partnership opportunities to help solve workforce needs.

After lunch we heard from Michelle Lerat, Senior Program Officer – Mental Wellness Programs, First Nations, and Inuit Health at Indigenous Services Canada. She shared an overview of Regional NNADAP treatment centers and developing addiction services programs in Saskatchewan. A NNADAP treatment and wellness centers map was reviewed, and Michelle spoke about 112 newly added beds within Saskatchewan. She then posed the question “What is harm reduction?” Some examples given were needle exchange programs, safe injection sites, pipe exchange, free condoms, and naloxone kits.

The last person on the agenda for the first day was Shelley Thomas-Prokop, Director of Research and Curriculum at Saskatchewan First Nations Family and Community Institute. She updated the group on Long-Term Continuing Care, and the creation of an advisory committee aimed to discuss the services.  A report will be submitted to ISC, and a summary will be sent to the IA group. Shelley’s presentation ended with having the group contribute to a survey about Long-Term Continuing Care.

At the beginning of the second day we heard from Jason Yew, Regional Program Development Advisor at Indigenous Services Canada. He touched on policy updates ETI added to special needs chapter. The funeral policy was updated, there is now a $4500 flat rate for funeral and a few additions for the plot. After updates from Jason, the group participated in a networking activity. Members paired up and discussed current challenges and positives coming out of their community IA program. Each group met for 10 minutes which gave them 5 minutes each to share before they switched partners. The activity gave participants opportunities to swap ideas, best practices and reiterate that they are not along in the challenges they face.

Next on the agenda we heard from Fern Pewapsconias - Manager, Indigenous Customer Care Program at SaskPower. The province was split up into three regions, servicing 74 First Nations and 12 Metis communities. Their team consists of 1 program manager and 3 relationships managers. The Relationship Manager in the east is Joshua Lavalley, central region is Jeremy Roberts, and west region is Chelsey Falk. They are looking to hire 15 local power reps. They service they provide is centralized contact for First Nations community leaders and administrators, centralized escalation management, co-create solutions with each community, CSR frontline support, energy literacy workshops, and SaskPower Process Workshops.

The final piece of business for the two-day meeting was a review of the IA Administrators Meeting was to hear from SFNFCI staff about upcoming training and meeting dates.

Quarter 3 Meeting:  December 6th and 7th 2022

Quarter 4 Meeting:  March 7th and 8th 2023 

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