The grand opening of Siksika Support Services, as well as Siksika Day were celebrated at the powwow arbour on Sept. 21 with the Healing Through Gathering Powwow. 

“We received some donation funds, I believe it was from TD Bank, and it was for cultural purposes. We had originally had a grand opening set for June 21 … and we had to postpone it,” said Linda Little Chief Ayoungman, manager for Siksika Support Services. “In the meantime, we received these donation funds and we decided to focus more on our community rather than just the handful of people we might have been able to connect with through just a general grand opening ceremony.”

The Siksika Support Centre opened its doors officially in April 2022 following several years of development, and has since served over 2,000 nation members through its four currently available programs. 

Ayoungman explained the Siksika Support Centre is largely focused on several facets of supporting nation members, being: one-time emergency financial support, food, and a healing plan which provides access to several different support structures by way of the Support Centre’s partners. 

“The support of our leadership is very instrumental in allowing us to be able to reach more of our nation members. In the past, our people or our programs tended to be siloed a little bit,” said Ayoungman. “The purpose of the support centre is to really have that integrated service delivery model focus. We are currently working on something similar to a continuum of care, where all of our services can relay information freely back and forth without fear of contravening different professional rules and regulations that they all follow.”

The namesake of the powwow, Healing Through Gathering, was chosen out of significance to Siksika, particularly following the isolation required during the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea being to be able to gather, connect and support each other. 

Sept. 22, also marks the official anniversary of the Treaty 7 signing and is a holiday for Nation members. This year marks the 146th anniversary of the signing. 

The Siksika Support Centre can be reached by phone at 403-734-5700, or by several similar numbers in order to each specific program. The team can also be reached via email.

Though social media outlets are currently maintained by Siksika Support Services, a website is in the process of being developed to increase awareness regarding their services. 

In the meantime, Ayoungman said word of mouth is largely their greatest way of spreading information about the Support Centre’s programs and existence. 

Nation members are encouraged to seek them out and apply for programs if they are in need of assistance, as they are designed to have little to no acceptance barriers.

By John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Sep 28, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Strathmore Times   Strathmore, Alberta

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