• Feature Image_Hay River GOM

Fiddling Strengthens Connection for All Ages

 September 10, 2020
Posted by NWT Recreation and Parks Association

How we connect looks a little different this year, but one community participating in the NWTRPA’s Generations on the Move program is showing that even a pandemic can’t stop them from keeping active through music with people of all ages!

Generations on the Move is a three-year project that aims to inspire communities across the NWT to create regular programming that both fosters intergenerational connections and increases active living opportunities for all—particularly Elders and older adults. Hay River is one of four communities participating in the Project, and they are showing us that fiddling is a wonderful way to lift spirits while keeping minds and bodies active.

We recently connected with Linda Duford, from the Hay River chapter of the Kole Crook Fiddling Association, to see how the Generations on the Move program is going over there amidst COVID-19. We’re happy to report that not even a pandemic can slow this group down!

“Our program in Hay River is doing very well. We are very fortunate that we had established a fairly large core group that were meeting every week regularly, so it was easier to transition our program through Covid-19,” said Linda.

“During the first phase of the lockdown, we had to step out of our comfort zone and try out new things to keep the program going.” She said they tried out some Zoom lessons and had a few very fun — and well attended! — outdoor sessions. One in particular, the ‘parking lot session’ was a huge success. “We had people drive down to the riverbank and sit in, or just outside, their vehicles, and we all played some tunes. We made sure everyone was parked 6 meters apart in a big semi-circle. It was great!! We ended up staying almost 2 hours. Some of the Elders came just to listen and had lawn chairs!”

Once the GNWT announced that the NWT was entering Phase 2 of relaxing public health restrictions, the group was able to get together in person and attend regular programming indoors again.

They even added a new instrument to celebrate—the ukulele! Whether they prefer the fiddle or uke, participants now have a choice of how they’d like to get their feet stomping and moving to the beat.

“The ukulele is a huge hit so far,” Linda said. “The amazing thing that came out of all this was that the pandemic forced us to try out different things to keep the program going. And what the heck—we liked it! So much so that we will do things the ‘new’ way, and the old way!”

When asked what struck her most about the new adjustments, Linda said “At our first Phase 2 indoor meeting I was blown away at the preparedness of the Elders who attended. They had their masks, gloves, sanitizers, et cetera. They didn’t touch any surfaces and didn’t bat an eye at the restrictions! Nothing fazes these seasoned warriors!”

In addition to regular meetings, the group plans to have outdoor events when the weather permits and a Zoom session once a month. “It is amazing how our Elders have embraced the new technology. I like to think that our Hay River program will inspire other communities.”

We’re happy we could share one example of how regular programming that invites all generations to connect is a wonderful opportunity to lift spirits and keep minds and bodies healthy. Now is the perfect time to plan intergenerational programs, and with the right planning, activities can adjust to the ever-evolving pandemic.

If you’d like to bring intergenerational programming to your community, we can help! We have many resources available, including an Intergenerational Toolkit created in the NWT for the NWT. You can reach out to our Active Communities Coordinator, Stefanie at smiklosovic@nwtrpa.org or 867-669-8379 for a hard copy and more info! Don’t forget to check out #GenerationsOnTheMove for more stories and program inspiration.