Our “Community Assistants” live in St. James Town and possess professional accreditation and cultural knowledge providing trusted local leadership. Having addressed the same issues as newcomers, a safe, trusted environment is created which provides a clear, understandable path to solutions. Our Community Assistants bring with them a rich history of community, tribal and village support from “back home”. This commitment to their fellow newcomer is an integral part of personal values as seen in a tireless support of their neighbours and is a corner stone of our community based approach to service.
We are committed to ongoing training and support of our Community Assistants as the bridge to solutions which combine Canadian Health care practices with those culturally sensitive approaches from back home. The most immediate outcome is the creation of safe spaces and the knowledge of committed long term support providing the conditions for residents to address their health needs. Record attendance at Pap test clinics compared to near zero attendance using traditional approaches in our community stands as testimony to the success of the Community Assistants when dealing with sensitive personal issues.
There is complete integration in themes, messages, staff training and delivery of all Community Matters programming. Participants in a nutrition program will also participate in employment programs, training work shops and celebrations. Their children attend our After School and swimming programs and their parents are served by our Adults Plus seniors’ program. Health messages, language improvement, employment and citizenship responsibilities are part of each of these programs. The integration prevents a “passing off” of a participant to another agency or service which may not be local or carry the same messages and themes, nor provide local support. We are thereby able to provide appropriate health messages and support at times when participants are most willing to listen and accept.