Ottawa Ethno-Cultural Seniors Network

Our program works with 26 local grassroots organizations to improve standard of living for ethno-cultural seniors, who are disproportionately at risk of isolation, and face multiple barriers in accessing appropriate services.

Thousands of Ottawa-area seniors are engaged in activities and events, reducing social isolation, and supporting healthy aging.


  • Seniors participated in over 50 different types of activities.
  • The groups hosted presentations, lectures, seminars, and information sessions on 44 topics.
  • Eighty social outings offered.
  •  Organized an annual Walk-A-Thon during Seniors Week, raising funds for activity spaces for
  • More than 2,300 interactions with seniors through home visits, and telephone reassurance.


Creating Community for Isolated Ethno-Cultural Seniors

This project was one of six to be chosen for funding through the initiative, “Ottawa Seniors Connected” (KOSC). The funding was provided by Employment and Social Development Canada to execute activities, measure results, leverage resources, and build momentum to reduce seniors’ isolation. Six agencies, including SPCO, run funded projects which address specific groups at increased risk of isolation. Visit for more information.

The Brain Health Program

A culturally responsive community-based adult dementia support program piloted by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa (SPCO) in collaboration with the Indo-Canadian Community Centre (ICCC), the Kanata Chinese Seniors Support Centre and the Champlain Community Support Network (CCSN). The Brain Health program is a social innovation model built on asset based community development. The innovation is in the service delivery models, which are public, non-profit, community partnership approaches providing viable evidence-based models that supports healthy aging in place. The project began in 2019 with the Indo-Canadian Community Centre and Kanata Chinese Seniors Support service each running weekly adult day programs.  In 2020, two additional communities actively joined the project in delivering their own unique model of support to their community members with dementia – Daryeel A Seniors and Youth Serving Centre and the Ottawa Valley Filipino Canadian Senior Citizens Association.  We are grateful for the generous support of the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), Innoweave (McConnell Foundation) and the Ontario Trillium Foundation.


Ethno-Cultural Seniors Home Visitors Training Project

Six groups contributed to a volunteer training and support guide, which was translated into 6 languages. The guide was created to help ethno-cultural seniors’ groups develop and conduct formal and culturally appropriate volunteer training and support.  It’s intention is to help increase the capacity and sustainability of existing ethno-cultural groups in Ottawa who provide volunteer services.  It is also meant to act as a resource to mentor young people from different cultural backgrounds who want to volunteer in their own community, help them learn and practice their language skills, and to increase knowledge of their own cultures of origin. Introduced to approximately 400 leaders and volunteers, we are grateful for funding from the Government of Canada (New Horizons for Seniors Program) and United Way of Eastern Ontario.

Sharing Dance for Seniors Project

After two successful years of partnership, SPCO continues to work with Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) on their Sharing Dance for Seniors project, which is also in collaboration with Baycrest Health Sciences. This project is a safe and accessible dance program that engages older adults in meaningful dance activity that benefits physical, cognitive, and overall health. Baycrest and NBS provide a weekly video dance class and funding for space, a facilitator (who provides assistance and interpretation), transportation, and refreshments. As of January 2019, 8 ethno-cultural groups have taken part in the program. Feedback has been very positive from participants, many of whom have shared that they appreciate the opportunity to dance, exercise, and socialize. Sharing Dance is supported by Baycrest Health Sciences and Canada’s National Ballet School.


Ridgemont High School Intergenerational Project

Ten seniors took part in this Ottawa school’s intergenerational program. Thirty students enrolled in 10 th grade communication technology courses have supported seniors in sharing their stories. The goal is to connect youth who are newcomers to Canada with seniors who immigrated to Canada, sharing commonalities, and using video as a means of telling their stories. Youths gained knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary for employment – generally and specifically as videographers.  The final videos will be showcased in the new year.

Collectively We Care – Collectively We Help – Elder Abuse and Neglect in Ethno-Cultural Communities

In October, 2019 a very successful forum was hosted in part of a broader project developed by the Social Planning Council of Ottawa (SPCO) that wanted to empower, inform and educate ethnocultural seniors on what constitutes elder abuse and neglect, their rights when abuse occurs, and available support services. The project began as a response to the needs of 26 grassroots ethnocultural seniors’ groups that support Ottawa seniors. Many of these ethnocultural seniors’ groups work together to prevent social isolation and address several needs of ethnocultural seniors. The idea of a forum became apparent after grassroots ethnocultural seniors’ groups showed immense interest in focus group discussions and presentations organized in collaboration with the SPCO. Many of the leaders of grassroots seniors’ groups were involved from the conception of the ideas that shaped the forum to its actual organization and delivery.  A simple language information sheet was created and translated into 10 languages along with 3 videos developed on financial and emotional abuse.  These resources will be used as part of the education campaign on elder abuse and neglect. Funding has been provided by United Way of Eastern Ontario.

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