Welcome service connects Indigenous people from reserves, small communities to Edmonton resources

For some First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, moving to a city can be an isolating experience. The New in Town Aboriginal Welcome Service in Edmonton hopes to change that.

The program, run by Bent Arrow Traditional Healing Society, aims to help Indigenous people from smaller communities get more acclimated to life in the city, and to learn about the services they may need.

“If you go from a small town, where maybe there’s one main street, to Edmonton, where there are a lot of things happening all the time, that can be really, really challenging for people who are new to the city,” Bryn Herbert, who works with the program, told CBC’s Radio Active Monday.

“Sometimes, navigating that is a barrier.”

Bryn Herbert says the New In Town Aboriginal Welcome Service connects First Nations, Métis and Inuit with food, shelter and culture services in the city. 6:48

The program started in 2011 and helps people new to the city find work, shelter and cultural connections. It offers help to anyone who came to the city less than a year ago, but also tries to offer a helping hand to anyone who needs it.

‘Painfully lonely’

Herbert is well-suited to the job — he’s felt the isolation firsthand.

He remembers his first night in the city, alone in a dorm room, listening to the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network because it felt like he was listening to his grandpa.

“My first night, to be totally candid with you, was painfully lonely,” he said.

Even though Herbert had friends and family on his dad’s side in the city, he still felt alone. He moved from Yellowknife, a city rich in culture and diversity where much of his mom’s Chipewyan family lived.

“There were lots of people from literally all over the world as well as many of our northern communities,” Herbert said.

Using that experience, he tries to help anyone who reaches out. Herbert remembers a mom and teenage boy who came to the city to escape what they viewed as aggression toward them.

It was a tough transition — the mother struggled to learn which services she could take advantage of to help her and her son.

Herbert said she was ready to give up.

“[I asked her], ‘You’ve come this far, you’re this strong, you can be successful, what can I do to help you?'” he said.

Herbert said it’s that type of work that makes the career so rewarding.

For more information on the program, visit the website here.


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Sherwood Park

Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area.[7] It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary,[8] generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road).[9] Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.[9]

Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016,[6] Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.

History

Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
Geography

The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton.[8] The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.

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