SENIORS comprise 14% of the Canadian population of which 28% are of visible minorities residing in Toronto. South Asians are 28% (Statistics Canada). Many seniors from Muslim and South Asian backgrounds face linguistic, technological and cultural barriers which impede their access to services and to integrate into Canadian mainstream. They also face different challenges like lack of personal care, difficulty in finding family physicians who speaks their language, culturally relevant food in the hospitals, and lack of accessing wheel transit- just to name a few.
The “Seniors Network for Integration” project will help seniors to address and reduce their cultural, linguistic and technological barriers by building and sustaining a senior’s network. The “Seniors Network of Integration” will form alliances and support other seniors with information-sharing, computer training and will encourage them towards community and civic participation.
The project is a community-based participatory action research in collaboration with the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) involving Muslim and South Asian seniors and service providers to identify cultural barriers that limit access to services. To build age-friendly communities, it is important that we assist our seniors in accessing community services.
Talat Muinuddin (President of Reh’ma Community Services) is thankful to OTF for helping their organization move towards their goal of supporting our seniors integrate in Toronto. “We are very excited about the web-portal which will have information on service providers in diverse languages, so that seniors can increase their access”, says Shirin Mandani (Executive Director of Reh’ma Community Services).
The project will be implemented by involving volunteers who are seniors, project staff, placement students and RCS staff. Seniors in the roles of volunteers will play an integral part in planning and informing the action teams. This project will also capture three success stories of South Asian seniors who will share information on the barriers they faced and how they were able to overcome them.
Most times seniors remain silent about expressing their cultural needs. This project aims to educate the service providers and empower seniors in civic engagement and activities that contribute to the building of stronger communities.