New program hopes to improve digital literacy skills of older Nunavummiut

A new program to improve the digital literacy skills of older Nunavummiut has been launched.

The Connected Seniors and Youth program, by Pinnguaq, Connected Canadians and HelpAge Canada, is an intergenerational digital literacy program that matches youth and seniors. It is hoped that these skills will help seniors stay in digital contact with their friends and family.

The program will take place in the seven communities of the Kivalliq region, including Rankin Inlet, Arviat and Whale Cove, and the program has also expanded to Clyde River, which is in the territory’s Baffin region.

Nicole Perry is the Director of National Programs for HelpAge Canada, an Ottawa-based non-profit organization that helps seniors live with dignity in Canada and around the world.

She said the program was created with in mind the increased isolation older northerners have experienced during lockdowns caused by the global pandemic over the past year and a half.

“When we think about what the rural and remote way of life means and think of isolation and loneliness… this is nothing new to people [in the North]”said Perry.

Nicole Perry is the Director of National Programs at HelpAge Canada. (Submitted by Nicole Perry)

She said that since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, there has been an awareness of the impact on older Canadians, in particular “how lonely and isolated they have become during the pandemic. and how technology can really help overcome that “.

The learning modules have been prepared with the unique way of life in the North in mind and encompass Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, Inuit principles of societal values.

The material is in both English and Inuktitut and focuses on learning essential digital skills such as navigating tablet settings and menus, searching the internet, using apps and digital photography. . Perry said the program is a way for young Nunavummiut to make meaningful connections and learn more about their culture from elders in their communities.

“It’s about connecting across generations, connecting through knowledge sharing, using technology as the focal point of these conversations, connecting language,” she said.

“When intergenerational relationships are activated, both older and younger people feel loved and valued.”

The Connected Seniors and Youth program, by Pinnguaq, Connected Canadians and HelpAge Canada, is an intergenerational digital literacy program that matches youth and seniors. (Submitted by Lisa Trefzger Clarke)

Professional skills

According to Perry, the program will help the young people involved gain some work experience and acquire essential job skills.

“[Youth] will learn not only the technical skills needed for the program, but also the best practices and approaches to support older adult learners and soft skills for the workforce, ”she said.

“Pinnguaq has a lot of contacts to help young people find employment opportunities afterwards.

Talia Metuq, an Inuit artist and community engagement and special projects coordinator at Association Pinnguaq, helped develop the program’s logo.

“Sharing knowledge is an important Inuit way of life,” said Metuq.

To think about it, she illustrated two silhouettes with traditional Inuit hair braids from Baffin Island. She said it shows “skills are shared between generations” in an email.

“Although orange is not widely used as a tech color, for connected seniors and youth, the logo color brings the warmth and feel of the program,” added Metuq.

The Seniors and Connected Youth program will run from September 2021 to March 2022. It is currently recruiting 22 young people in the communities of Kivalliq for a paid internship. Seniors are encouraged to enroll in the program, which will be offered on a weekly group schedule.

As part of the personalized training program, 250 tablets along with data plans are provided to program participants and staff. At the end of the program, graduates will also be entered into a raffle to be able to keep a tablet.

Dwight E. Schulz