Prince Albert Elder honoured for her work in justice, alleviating poverty
- Jessica Iron Joseph | June 21, 2016
On May 24th, Isabelle Impey of Prince Albert was awarded the Saskatchewan Order of Merit for her contributions to her community. In her award biography, it states that: “Ms.Impey has provided leadership and service to her community and beyond in the areas of culture, family life, justice, education and the alleviation of poverty.”
Impey did not expect the nomination and was quite humbled to be one of 10 recipients. “It was a surprise,” she said, “I have a lot of people to share it with because I have a lot of good people around me who helped make this happen, so I’m not totally entitled to it.”
“I don’t do it alone,” she explained. “I do a food program. It’s not part of the food bank. It’s a program that I initiated under the Second Harvest Circle group that used to have it and they decided to discontinue doing it. There was such a need in the community for it that I decided 15 years ago to take over it.”
Related: Aboriginal community leaders receive Saskatchewan Order of Merit
By operating the Prince Albert Aid to the Homeless and Hungry program out of her own garage, she keeps costs low. “I have a furnace in my garage, so I just reorganized my garage and I use it for giving out food. I’ve been doing it out of my home so it saves the cost of getting a building. I do it once a week.”
Along with her volunteers, she gives out food, clothes and furniture. But that’s not all she does. 15 years ago she also began a huge community Christmas meal. “When we initially started, it was mostly my family—I kind of put them in a spot where they had to volunteer,” she said. “We prepared food for 700, and last Christmas we had food for two and half thousand. It’s getting bigger and the need is greater. Last year we gave gifts to all the kids and treat bags; and we also gave toques and scarves and mitts for all the people that were there that needed something to keep them warm.”
She was quick to point out that she is always helped by her tireless volunteers. “When I count all the volunteers, I have many, many, many volunteers. They’re so wonderful. They’re so good about coming out to help,” she said.
As a social worker and child advocate, she also started the Opikanawasowin program, which is an alternate dispute resolution between families and the Ministry of Social Services.
“We have an Elders’ circle. We hear from the families, we hear from their supports, we hear from the children,” she said. “It’s the only place where the children have a voice. At the end the Elders’ circle makes recommendations to the judge for what should happen to that family,” she said.
Ms. Impey is ultimately grateful to be acknowledged, “I’m glad people think that I am doing okay, doing a good job helping people. I think that in itself is a real gift, a real blessing.”