Project seeking input from North Shore's multicultural seniors

A new project is aiming to help better integrate multicultural seniors on the North Shore by first getting them involved in the planning process.

Angela Sealy of Westcoast Facilitators Group is currently facilitating the community engagement project which is looking to integrate multicultural seniors in an age-friendly way in the community.

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The project is specifically targeting North Shore seniors from South Korea, the Philippines, China and Iran who have been here for five or more years, according to Sealy, though no will be turned away, she adds.

“The age-friendly community is a community for everyone,” says Sealy, adding that when communities start building spaces that better integrate seniors, say for example by creating cutouts on sidewalks or installing more benches, “it makes it easier for people with wheelchairs – all mobility issues. You’re also then building a sidewalk for mothers with strollers, you’re building a sidewalk for people with vision impairment.”

Sealy is shepherding the community engagement project on behalf of Silver Harbour Seniors’ Activity Centre and Lionsview Seniors’ Planning Society.

The project is funded by the Union of B.C. Municipalities, with support from the three North Shore municipalities, according to Sealy.

Noting that the goal of the project is to plan with seniors, not for them, Sealy says the main purpose of the dialogues she’ll be hosting through a number of sessions will aim to uncover what makes it easy for multicultural seniors on the North Shore to participate in programs and services in their community, as well as explore what barriers make it difficult for them.

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Angela Sealy is leading a project looking to better integrate multicultural seniors on the North Shore - photo Mike Wakefield, North Shore News

“Seniors become isolated very quickly, regardless of whether you’re from a different country or not,” says Sealy. “Isolation hurts the community. … It also means that they’re not using the community-based resources that are created for them.”

Sealy plans to ask participants questions which could range from: what they like about living on the North Shore, what challenges they face when it comes to accessing services in their community, and what changes they would like to see?

Asked to speculate on potential challenges for multicultural seniors, Sealy imagines many might cite underwhelming options when it comes to public transportation and a lack of language options, among others.

“This project in particular I really enjoy because we are asking people what they want,” says Sealy. “We are listening to what works for them.”

Sealy will be leading a number of dialogues and sessions in order to gain feedback from multicultural seniors for the project starting now until the end of the year.

A final report with information and various recommendations is expected to be delivered to North Shore municipalities early next year, according to Sealy.

One such community engagement session is booked for tomorrow (Thursday, May 23) at Silver Harbour in North Vancouver from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Multicultural seniors, specifically those from South Korea, Philippines, China or Iran, are encouraged to email Sealy at wfg@shaw.ca if they’re interested in being added to the list for tomorrow’s session. Those looking for more information about the project, or to participant in a future session, are also encouraged to inquire via email.

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