• Innu elders’ gathering in Sheshatshit
Oct 11, 2017
The 23rd elders’ gathering took place this summer in Sheshatshit, specifically in the Gull Island in Labrador. This project was born in Schefferville in 1994. Its objectives are to give elders the opportunity to come together in a place of gathering, to share memories and celebrate the traditional values of the Innu communities.

Valuing the well-treatment of seniors, which is at the heart of the objectives of the gathering

The Innu elders’ gathering is at the heart of the promotion, appreciation and understanding of well-treatment among First Nations elders. Protective factors associated with well-treatment include the development of a sense of belonging to one's nation, the sharing of traditional values and knowledge and the promotion of positive behaviours and attitudes related to aging in the community. The Innu elders’ gathering is an important event since it allows for countering isolation and promoting common reflection and healing. It is an opportunity to go beyond experienced trauma to be able to discuss this trauma, to try to understand its impacts in a reflexive way, and to discuss the future and the hope to invest in the younger generations.

About the gathering

Currently, the Innu elders’ gathering brings together nine communities from the Upper North Shore to Labrador. To get to the site, the participating elders travel by carpool, paratransit and airplane. The community that will host the next edition is determined each year by a random draw at the end of the gathering. Thus, the elected community is responsible for providing the basic equipment to ensure the smooth running of the activity as well as part of its organization. Each community makes a financial investment to ensure the well-being of the elders and to cover costs associated with equipment, materials, food, transportation, accommodations, etc. The host community as well as the other communities in attendance also ensure that they have a group of volunteers and support staff (facilitator, cook, organizer, etc.) on hand to make sure that things go smoothly.

Did someone say protective factors?

The United Nations General Assembly has designated October 1 as International Day of Older Persons. It is important to reflect on the importance of elder well-treatment. This reflection raises the impact of protective factors on the physical and psychological well-being of First Nations elders. Therefore, it is essential to highlight all initiatives related to the wellness of elders. These include the sharing circles such as the perinatal circle which was held at the Hôtel-Musée Premières Nations in Wendake on September 12 and 13. This moment of reflection and sharing between various nations provided an opportunity to discuss everything pertaining to the perinatal concept among First Nations in Quebec and thus share common memories on the ways in which communities perceive children and their education and well-being. Elders discussed the differences between yesterday and today in terms of birth and early childhood and to be able to discuss the traditional practices of each nation. An opportunity like this helps to foster self-esteem, a sense of belonging and the transmission of traditional practices.