January 2024 - Newsletter

In this issue

For over 13 years, the bussing service offered by the Northern Rockies Seniors Society (NRSS) has provided a solution to transportation challenges in the region and is a service that many local groups rely on.

Running two busses, five days a week, the Seniors Bus is well-established, easy to access and flexible to the needs of the community. Community members can contact the Northern Rockies Seniors Society at any time to request the bus service and provision of services are assessed on an individual basis according to availability and need.

“Being with the society for all the years I have, it has been fulfilling to see us provide a source of low-income transportation for our community members,” said Lillian, one of the Seniors Bus drivers. “Despite the weather, count on us to meet you for door-to-door service for all your appointments and up town running around. Being able to service all community members and get them to their destinations in a feasible manner is something to be proud of.”

With the increased need for expanded service, the Northern Rockies Seniors Society partnered with Fort Nelson Family Development Society to accommodate transportation for children and youth. Other partners include Fort Nelson First Nation, Fort Nelson Hospice Society and the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality.

Despite dedicated drivers and a commitment to the community, the NRSS recognized that it would need additional support in order to further expand services to those who need it most.

In 2022, the NRSS was approved for $150,000 grant through the Northern Community Shuttle program.  With this expansion, meetings are coordinated with representatives of BC Bus North and Northern Health Connections to ensure any synergies between established pick-up and drop-off locations and regional busing can be captured. A service increase allows for one bus to maintain a regular schedule with fixed routes while the second bus continues to offer custom scheduling.

“We have been able to provide an awesome service for our rural community and benefit other programs as well,” said McKenna Luyben, executive director, NRSS. “We work with other non-profits to provide transportation to and from child programs, we serve all the seniors to get to their programs and provide safe ride services for events around town. Our community is very thankful to have a service that is low in cost and can get them to and from, all while benefiting our Seniors Society by using our services.”

The North East Native Advancing Society (NENAS) in Fort St. John has offered a variety of programs including youth, family, elders and employment and training for the past 30 years.

In 2021, thanks in part to a $10,000 BC Hydro GO Fund grant, NENAS established YES – Youth and Elders Sharing.

This program is aimed at helping elders stay connected to family and friends through a variety of activities including the use of social media, storytelling and gardening. Through this platform, youth assist in teaching elders how to use technological devices and about social media platforms. Elders and youth work together planting traditional herbs, vegetables and medicinal plants that are native to the area.

Funding is used to support programs that will enhance the lives of our elders to be able to connect youth to their local historical culture as well as enjoy the early and eager learnings of little ones.

The ultimate outcome of YES is to reduce the risk of self-isolation effects on the elders with the loss of communication and culture and to connect youth their culture and to help them deal with stress, anxiety and loneliness.

“This program helped the elders, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, with their mental health, and coupled the elders with youth who taught them how to stay connected with family and friends through social media, how to attend virtual medical appointments, access their CRA accounts online, and showed the elders online programs such as TikTok and Pinterest through their tablets/iPads and cell phones,” said Margrit Carter, quality assurance/program support with NENAS. “In turn, the elders share their wisdom on traditional medicine, healing plants, ceremonies and their history.”

Amisk Farm is an Indigenous-led mixed agricultural operation located on East Moberly Indian Reserve 169 – Saulteau First Nation.

The farm operates as a viable and independent business and in 2022, Amisk Farm launched market sales at the Chetwynd farmers market and with farm-gate sales. The launch was a great success and they plan to significantly scale-up production for the upcoming growing seasons.

In order to extend their growing season and capitalize on shoulder season marketing opportunities, Amisk Farm successfully applied for a $28,320 grant through the BC Hydro Peace Agricultural Compensation Fund in 2023 which assisted in purchasing a greenhouse and caterpillar tunnel.

This infrastructure also allows for nursery production space for fruit and nut crops, space for growing herb and vegetable transplants, and the ability to consistently produce high value, heat loving crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, peppers and pole beans. This project can significantly increase farm income, provide new opportunities for employment and training, and boost food security in the region.

“We are so excited about our season extension project at Amisk Farm,” said Julian Napoleon, owner/operator, Amisk Farm. “The double-walled greenhouse and caterpillar tunnel are going to be the economic drivers of our farm business. We are focusing on providing a diverse mix of produce in the shoulder seasons with a crop plan that will see vegetables available for our local markets from early May until November.”

While the Peace region has a long history of commodity crop production, there is need for more diverse, small-scale operations focusing on meeting the needs of local consumers. Given the limited diversity of fresh produce in this region available over the short growing season, Amisk Farm aims to provide consumers with an abundance of market garden produce over the longest season possible.