Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) member Edna Terbasket, executive director of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society (KFS), has been working hard to keep the organization open throughout the pandemic to provide essential service for families, Elders, youth and those living on the streets.
As part of an ongoing series on community changemakers, IndigiNews asked people to nominate those who are having an impact on their community.
Freda McLean, who also works at the KFS, saw the call for community nominations and felt her executive director, Edna Terbasket, was well-deserving of some recognition.
“Edna deserves some recognition for her dedication to the people,” says McLean.
“I nominated Edna Terbasket because she kept the friendship center open to ensure continued services.”
According to McLean, community members who rely on the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Societies services feared the centre would close down during the outbreak of COVID-19.
“People thought that the friendship centre would shut down, but Edan said, ‘No, the people on the streets need us,’” McLean says.
“Edan is a good-hearted woman warrior.”
Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society
The KFS was founded in 1974. They have been providing essential programs and community-based services to all people for the past 45 years.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached B.C. in mid-March, Terbasket has been working tirelessly to ensure her staff and people visiting the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society are safe and able to receive support.
“We provide a lot of essential services. I could not see a way that we could close. This is a time that people need us the most,” says Terbasket.
Terbasket explains that some of the services provided at the centre are essential for some people’s survival.
“Some people rely on us to provide them with a nice warm meal, or warm clothing, or even just advice,” says Terbasket.
The KFS provides many services, for example, health and wellness, support groups, family services, homeless and housing and more.
“Our front doors are open to anyone and anybody, whether they’re Westbank First Nation’s (WFN), if they’re a minority, or if they’re non-indigenous, we will provide services,” Terbasket explains.
“I feel I’m making an impact on our people and that I’m helping, Indigenous or not.”
Before working at the KFS, Terbasket worked as the Aboriginal cultural coordinator for six years for the School District 23, but still felt she could be doing more for youth and community.
“I thought I could help our kids more if I weren’t tied to the district. You can’t put something round into something square,” says Terbasket
“I told the district, ‘Guys, I don’t fit into your square institution,’ so I left the school district, and I came to the KFS to work as the family support worker in 1987.”
In 2001, Terbasket was offered the position as the executive director, and for the past 20 years she has been giving back to the community.
“I feel blessed to be here as a part of this team, and I wake up looking forward to coming to work every day,” she says.
“I’m honoured to be nominated, and the KFS will only do better and do more for the community because there’s so much that needs to be done.”