As another Neighbourhood Small Grants (NSG) year comes to a close, I feel grateful and proud to have been able to support my community in bringing their creative ideas to life. The year end celebration allows participants to connect with NSG committee members, other project leaders and members of the community. It is where new ideas are born, and new friendships are formed. The celebration is opened each year by an Elder and a traditional song which, for me, is always a humbling experience. This year, the Elder sang a song that acknowledged each direction – North, East, South, West – starting with the Northern mountains. As I gazed out the window at the mountains feeling the drum beat harmoniously to the Elder’s voice, I felt gratitude for the opportunity to participate in a small event that celebrates the big impact it has on so many lives in the Strathcona area.
I have a soft-spot for seniors. One particular group that never ceases to amaze me are the Chinese seniors that live in the community. They are always the first to arrive and last to leave the celebration each year. They bring so much energy to the room. The seniors, like every year, were very excited to tell me about their projects and all the fun things they did throughout the year, ranging from collaborating with the Indigenous community to learn how to make traditional drums to birthday celebrations celebrating their friend’s 100th birthday. They know very little English and don’t own computers, but neither of those things deter them from applying for multiple grants each year to connect and celebrate with their community. And, they have so much fun doing it! I truly believe that this is only possible because NSG is built on a premise that everyone is welcome to participate no matter what challenges, barriers or how little or a lot you may have – everyone is included.
I feel honoured to be a part of the NSG family. I hope that this initiative will continue to provide community members with a platform to strengthen the communities in which they live, and create meaningful, lasting memories with new and old friends.
To see more photos of NSG Gatherings from around the province, please click here.