Chantalle Morrow-Fesciuc is the director at Integrated Community Ministries, a long running United Church-funded ministry on Saskatoon’s west side. As with all community-based groups, ICM has had to weather many COVID related challenges over the last 18 plus months. Through care, skill, community partnerships, and deep community roots, they have kept everything going safely.
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Chantalle writes, “ (we) continue to work on Guaranteed Livable Income Education. After meeting with the Saskatoon Poverty Reduction Partnership (SPRP) leadership, we will be merging the ICM initiative with the SPRP’s Guaranteed Basic Income committee thus doubling efforts to educate Saskatoon on the concept of a Guaranteed Basic Income (GBI). This will allow a meeting of academia and grassroots perspective, ultimately ending up with a more well-rounded initiative. (Note: this commitment mirrors a big countrywide push on the topic
Sharing Circle permanently moved indoors to the KAP house downstairs lounge and as with all community-led initiatives, it grew slowly but authentically. I am in contact with our Elders re: their comfort level in continuing an indoor Sharing circle within the current covid pressures. They both expressed that they want to continue indoors, but the lounge is at its max capacity. Going forward, we have two strategies should the circle get bigger: 1. The entire circle moves to the kitchen area (already set up in a manner that allows 6 feet between participants). 2. The larger circle breaks into two smaller circles lounge and kitchen areas), with one elder leading each circle.
We have people attending by video conference on a computer that is set up in front of our Elders. These people are able to participate fully in the Circle. Without breaking the confidentiality of the Sharing Circle, I will say that the positive effects of the Circle are already being felt. The opportunity to identify, express, and share feelings, stories, and trauma allows those within the circle to learn from each other, which helps develop strong relationships built on trust.
United Church volunteers are eager to help, and while that cannot happen in person at the moment, I am engaging outreach committees to rally bakers and gardeners to contribute to Grow a Row for ICM, Staff breakfast, and treats for the Takeaway meal. It is a small thing but enables connection with past and new volunteers. Grow a Row for ICM is wildly successful. Donations have rolled in from most Saskatoon UC and so many on the outskirts of Saskatoon. These congregations are thrilled to be contributing to ICM in a meaningful way again.
As always, I spent many wonderful hours connecting with people in line during take away meals and foodbank distribution. This is where ICM is really making a difference- new neighbours come to check us out and old friends come to reconnect. Right relations are still strong with relationship-building and capacity-building (EV) as our goals. The Essential Voices facilitators do a wonderful job making the community folks feel welcome while running their programs in an efficient way.