History in the Making

(Originally published in Volume 2, Number 1 of the CALSCA Newsletter, January, 1995)

[Editor’s Note: Dori Britski, bless her little Sask. heart, has sent me a terrific news clipping dated August 1988. I am reprinting this in its totality (minus the photo of Jack Mitchell and Paul Curtis) because I find it exciting to think that we are still continuing a movement that started many years ago in a room over a bowling alley. That same movement has changed our lives forever. Amen. S.G.]

Lifeskills Association Outlines Objectives

by PETE DALLA-VICENZA of the Herald

Twenty years ago, in a room over the old Minto Bowling Alley on Eighth street east, a new method of teaching was introduced to Saskatchewan.

The idea – to teach people how to relate to others as well as help them deal with a host of problems including chronic unemployment, and drug and alcohol abuse.

The method – to set up group sessions and have the people in groups help each other cope with and solve the problems. The sessions were overseen by an instructor known as a lifeskills coach.

The method worked.

Today as many as 200 certified lifeskills coaches dot the Prairies helping people overcome their problems. This group took another step in the evolution of their profession this year as they formed their own association.

In an interview recently, two founding executive members of Saskatchewan Lifeskills Association say that it was formed so the profession can start regulating itself.

“it is the best way for us to stay ahead and keep improving,” said Paul Curtiss of Prince Albert who was named the first president of the association.

Curtiss, who coordinates the drug and alcohol counsellor programs at the Woodland Campus of the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology, said the association has established a number of objectives:

  • to represent the views of lifeskills instructors;
  • to set up communication and support systems for members;
  • to provide professional development and training;
  • to act as a public relations agency;
  • to act as Saskatchewan’s representative within the network of provincial lifeskills associations across Canada.

Jack Mitchell of Regina, who was named secretary of the association, said the evolution process of the lifeskills profession varies from province to province in Canada.

He said, for example, that the lifeskills association in Ontario has been in existence for about ten years while the profession is in its infancy stages in Quebec. “Saskatchewan is sort of in the middle in terms of development,” he said.

Mitchell added it is important for the profession to have a regulating body to ensure that guidelines are established to weed out unqualified instructors, counsellors or coaches.

“it establishes an element of credibility,” he said.

Last month the association had one of its first membership meetings as 40 lifeskills instructors gathered in Prince Albert to discuss the new association.

Curtiss said it was gratifying to see that so many lifeskills professionals were interested in joining the association. “it proves to me that the need is there.”