It's time we focused on seniors
Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Abbotsford Learning Plus Society, located at the Abbotsford Recreation Centre.
Sometimes when we discuss diversity and inclusion, seniors over the age of 65 tend to be overlooked in this dialogue.
In 2001, one-eighth of Canadians were over the age of 65 and by 2026, one-fifth will be over the age of 65, according to a government website.
When I was given the invitation to speak to this club, I thought to myself what a wonderful opportunity to share with a vibrant segment of our growing population.
This was the first opportunity where I've had the chance to speak to a seniors' society.
Many of the questions that I regularly receive on issues of our local diversity actually come from seniors who may not understand the changing cultural demographics in our comm unity.
Some of the key points made in my presentation were that we have a large non-English speaking population in Abbotsford, and to many seniors who came from a different generation, some may have conflicting views.
Also, for some, diversity wasn't even a real concept in their youth. What I shared through my experiences was that patience and outreach are very important tools in how we interact with one another and gain understanding.
I shared that we are at a critical stage in how open-minded we are regarding the topic of diversity. A lot of our focus in the community has been with youth; however, I believe there is a huge opportunity being missed with seniors in addressing how we can encourage different cultures and races to interact.
When driving around Abbotsford and Mission, at times you may notice Indo-Canadian seniors sitting with one another in parks and on benches in the community.
When I see this, the real question that comes to my mind is how can we bring people together? The knowledge and wealth of information that seniors bring is enormous.
We haven't effectively tapped into this market and it has been ignored far too long.
With more intercultural networking and activities, such as Abbotsford Senior Plus, we will see a positive change.
When I looked around the room that morning, I would have liked to have seen more of a multi-cultural mix of faces. Language, education and wealth should never be a barrier in how we interact with one another.
What I also shared was that Canadian culture often gets missed when we speak about cultural diversity. This is an important part of the equation in how we can all relate to one another. One local organization that is doing this and has just reached a 25-year milestone is the Fraser Valley Indo-Canadian Business Association.
I applaud this organization's efforts in reaching out and supporting various initiatives, as well as sponsoring students to reach their full educational potential. What I've gathered when speaking with various members over the years is that much work remains in how we can create effective relationships, and their work is paying dividends.
Nash Gill, president of FVICBA said: "I think over the years we've been non-political and non-religious," he said.
"Our business now is not just Indo-Canadian business, it's just business overall."
- Ken Herar is a freelance columnist writing for the Abbotsford-Mission Times. Contact him at: kenherar@ gmail.com.