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Seniors Memoirs Book Project

June 23, 2022

One of the project participants reading the memior book

When Cumberland College applied and received the grant money for the memoirs book project from the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program, it quickly became apparent that this was a wonderful project that would benefit both young and old.

The basis of the project was to address the isolation that seniors in the northeast region of Saskatchewan had been experiencing since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal was to connect a senior with a student whose role it was to interview the senior, record the stories they shared, and get a picture of the senior. There was no specific theme that the seniors had to talk about; they were given free rein to share their memories. Some students used technology to connect with the seniors, while others spoke with them face-to-face. The use of technology added an unexpected dimension to the project. Virtual connections meant that students could connect with seniors from outside of the region. Regardless of how the interactions occurred, in all cases, a personal connection was made between the student and senior, and feedback from everyone involved was that it was wonderful to reminisce, share stories, and hear how things have changed over the years.

When it came time to compile the stories, we were amazed by the variety. Speaking from their hearts, the seniors shared their experiences in such a poignant, endearing, and humorous way. They talked of how they and their ancestors survived difficult and challenging times but also about the wonderful connections and the fun they had with those they loved while growing up. Shining through each story was the strength and resilience of each and every senior. We would encourage anyone who has a senior in their life to take the time now to talk with them, to listen to them, to hear the richness of their memories. They have so much to share and spending time with them enriches both. Time is precious and life is fragile.

A big thank you to the seniors who took part in this project. Without your willingness to talk, there never would have been a book produced. We are so grateful! We would also like to thank the students who conducted the interviews; in a few situations, the students talked with seniors they did not even know. Most of the student interviewers who participated in the project attend adult upgrading programs at Cumberland College, while a few others are undergraduate students at university. Many of the interviewers were very nervous about the process and were not sure how to proceed. It is a wonderful testament to the caring approach of the seniors and the courage of the students that the students were quickly engaged in the storytelling and listened actively to all that was said. To the instructors who recognized the inherent value in such a project and incorporated it into their classes, you have our deep appreciation!

A special thank you to the primary funder for the project, the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors program. Their financial support allowed for the interviews to take place and for the book to become a reality. Funding for a valuable youth intern position focused on administrative assistance was also received from the RBC Foundation. Without these financial contributions, this project would not have happened. A special thank you goes out to the Hudson Bay Museum for their assistance in interviewing seniors and collecting stories in the summer of 2021.

With the wealth of stories shared by the seniors, we are able to include only snippets of what the seniors gifted us with - just an introduction to their memories. They talked of so much more that we were not able to include but we do hope you enjoy what is in the book and you will be encouraged to reach out and “interview” the seniors in your life!

Sherilyn Coates, on behalf of the Seniors Memoirs Book Project Cumberland College

Click here for a digital copy of the memoir

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