The blueberry holds special significance for Indigenous people in Canada. Blueberries have always been a good, healthy, and reliable food source, an important part of a wholesome diet. But they’re more than only a food source - generation after generation of First Nation people have come together at traditional blueberry picking grounds: they’re a place where friendships are nourished, culture is passed down, and heritage remembered. A connection to Mother Earth. At Boyle Street, each staff member of our interdisciplinary dens was gifted a beautiful blueberry pin at the October launch of our interdisciplinary model of care. These pins were commissioned by us and crafted by Minnie*, an Indigenous artist connected to our community. They carry a message of resilience, unity, new beginnings, and moving forward – perfectly matching the interdisciplinary model’s essence.
Our interdisciplinary dens are a core part of our work and reflect our commitment to integrated, holistic, wraparound care. In this model, professionals from various disciplines—social workers, nurses, cultural support workers, and others—come together to form a collaborative unit. This team addresses the complex, multifaceted needs of each individual we serve, offering tailored, comprehensive support. Daniel Ricard, an Adult Support Worker for one of the dens, shared about the dens’ impacts: “We are often the first person to build those relationships with our community members and really try to facilitate relationship building with others.
Obviously, a key component is really focusing on those immediate emergency needs: shelter and housing, making sure they have food security, things like their physical health. But a lot of that takes time. And so, luckily, that provides opportunity to look at those other activities outside of that, that often get missed – making sure people have purpose, making sure people are building connections, making sure people have a connection to culture …”
These impacts extend to his own day-to-day work and approach:
“Now that we have a team who shares that caseload ... It also makes it easy to take time off, we can take deep breaths ... I can step away and still have an entire team here that can support people while I'm gone and they can pick up right where I've left off, so that's huge.”
The impacts that Daniel describes resonate deeply with the spirit of the holiday season. This time of year, marked by giving and receiving, finds a perfect emblem in these pins – a reminder of our interconnectedness and the gift of coming together as a community. They embody the spirit of giving – not just in material terms, but in the sharing of knowledge, compassion, and time. Our staff bear a message of resilience, continual support, and shared journeys where we walk alongside each other.
In the spirit of the holiday season, we invite you to join us in this journey of shared growth and resilience. Whether through donating, volunteering, or simply spreading awareness, your involvement makes a profound impact. Check out our Ways to Give page to find out more. Together, we can continue to build a community of support and understanding, one where the spirit of giving is present throughout the year.
The blueberry pins symbolize our enduring commitment to the community we serve – a symbol of new beginnings, of hope, and of the unbreakable bonds that form the foundation of our work. Daniel sums up the essence of these pins and our mission, “The idea [of the blueberry pins] was that this was a totally new way of working for us. And so it was a gift with the intention of highlighting new beginnings for us, for Boyle Street, and for the community, and to do good work with that in mind.”
* Minnie often sells her art at our Artist Markets. The next Artist Market is Tuesday, December 5th, from 11AM-2PM in the lobby at EPCOR Tower.