Dancing Teenager Lifts Spirits of Seniors at Center

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One of the inspiring aspects in this time of Covid-19 is the human connection. At Growing Bolder, we love examples of intergenerational relationships, and you’re about to meet a 17-year-old who is lifting the spirits of the elders in life with the power of dance.  

Makhena Katerie Rankin Guérin, who works as a support worker at an Ottawa seniors residence, has been performing traditional dances of her culture, including the hoop dance and the jingle-dress dance.

“The thing I find fascinating about dance is the medicine within the dance,” Guérin told cbc.ca.com.

Guérin’s cultural roots are Algonquin and Cree. She grew up in the Quebec area. She has been working at the Symphony Senior Living Orléans in east Ottawa since she was 14. But she has been living there since the global outbreak of the pandemic in March because her mother has systemic lupus erythematosus, an autoimmune disease. Guérin did not want to risk her mom to greater exposure.

She changes from her blue scrubs into a colorful ensemble that features a red headband and hoops, accompanied by pulsating, rhythmic music. She usually performs in a large group-meeting recreational area.

“It’s medicine for the dancer, but it’s also medicine for the people [watching] … the way you feel when you look at a dancer. It’s emotional, spiritual, mental and even physical medicine,” she said.

She also takes the time to answer questions about her culture and what dancing means in that context. She’s become a key team member in the efforts to lift the spirits up of residents.

“Makhena approached us with ideas and we’ve just given [her] the platform to kind of flourish in here, which has been really exciting,” said Jodi Davidson, the executive director of Symphony Senior Living Orleans.

“She’s exceptional. She has a real caring attitude. She’s definitely going above and beyond right now to try and make sure that these people feel the love.”