By Kristian Partington, June 29, 2023
June is Senior’s Month in Canada and in honour of the oldest generations who helped shape the nation, a Mississauga retirement home was transformed into a gallery showcasing the “Pursuit of Passions” that have guided 29 Ontario seniors throughout life.
The Village of Erin Meadows hosted the event, which featured elegant, museum-quality photographs of the residents of long-term care and retirement homes, along with short stories about their passions. The event is one of a series that coincides with a month-long campaign to combat ageism and celebrate the wisdom of the elder.
“Throughout my lifetime, I have learned so much from my connections with seniors,” says Ron Schlegel, the 80-year-old founder of Schlegel Villages, which owns and operates The Village of Erin Meadows. His passion for community building was one of the featured passions.
“Their wisdom and experience are the greatest of resources our nation holds, and we must take every opportunity we can to learn from our elderly generations,” says Schlegel.
One of the featured speakers was Evelyn Brindle, a resident at Erin Meadows who cohosts a podcast called #ElderWisdom: Stories from the Green Bench. The podcast features poignant interviews with seniors about their lives and has had close to 100,000 downloads since its first episode aired in mid-2020.
“It has turned out to be an interesting and enlightening experience,” Brindle says of the podcast. “One thing that stands out . . . is the amazing wealth of experience, knowledge, interests, and passions that every resident we interview brought to our discussions. “They certainly dispel any of the stereotypes that might be held against older people.”
Sheref Sabawy, M.P.P. for Mississauga-Erin Mills, also attended the event and he says taking the time to visit a senior’s community is not only about honouring the seniors but also hearing their opinions and learning from them.
“We’re celebrating seniors,” Sabawy says, “and we’re looking to seniors. It’s a good opportunity for us to communicate . . . and try to get our compass correct with what seniors’ needs are.”
Sabawy’s colleague, Brampton North M.P.P. Graham McGregor agreed that ageism is something everyone must be aware of, and we can combat it by listening to the experiences seniors offer.
“A lot of people in society find it easy to dismiss the views of our aging population,” McGregor says, “but we need to remember that Canada was built by our seniors and they’ve got some of the best, if not the best, views on what we need to be doing.
“An event like this where we’re explicitly celebrating seniors is so important,” he adds.