Members of Niki Robichaud’s (left front) textile class, along with Ally Dick (second from right, front), Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Aboriginal patient liaison worker and Mel Bazil, Alcohol and Drug Counsellor, Storyteller and Cultural Advocate (right) display blankets the students made for Indigenous elders during hospital stays. (Thom Barker photo)

Youth create blankets for Indigenous elders

The blankets will be included in healthcare kits for Indigenous hospital patients

The Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre has partnered with Smithers Secondary School’s textile class and Witset youth to provide homemade blankets and healthcare kits to Indigenous elders and clients of the Bulkley Valley District Hospital (BVDH).

Ally Dick is the Aboriginal patient liaison worker for the centre, who works out of the hospital supporting Indigenous people around access to healthcare services.

“A part of that is ensuring that their stay in the hospital be culturally appropriate and comfortable,” she said.

The blankets will be included with healthcare kits Dick and youth in Witset put together for the patients, which also include homemade health and hygiene products.

Funding of $2,000 came from the New Relationship Trust, a program of the B.C. First Nations Youth Grant initiative.

Members of the textile class sewed the blankets with fabric featuring First Nations designs.

Ariana Smith is a first-time student in the class, she said it was gratifying and a great learning experience.

“I thought it was really nice that we were trusted with this,” she said. “I thought it was nice what we were doing for them and I thought it would be fun to work on it. I’m not very talented at sewing … but I learned a lot from it.”

Beyond that, she felt like it was a meaningful endeavour.

“While we were making the blankets I thought a lot about the people who would be receiving them and, seeing the pattern, I thought it would mean a lot to them,” she explained.

A workshop was held in Witset, where young people added personal touches by writing greeting cards for the eventual recipients.

“The idea is that there would be an inter-generational connection between elders in the community and youth,” Dick said.

She was thrilled with the result of the project.

“It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s great to see the contribution of the youth. It’s just such a nice initiative to tie together different generations of people all for a good cause.”

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Witset youth put together healthcare kits for Indigenous elders during hospital stays. (Submitted photo)

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