How a Seniors’ Program Is Helping Older Immigrants Build Social Ties and Reduce Social Isolation

By Damilola Kadiri

Since 1986, Alberta has dedicated the first week in June to honouring and celebrating the important contributions that seniors make to improving life in the province.

As Alberta celebrates the 2024 Seniors Week, we’re showcasing how Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) helps immigrant seniors unleash their potential.

Community Initiatives for Immigrant Seniors Program (CISP)

CISP was created to address the challenges faced by many immigrant seniors in Calgary, including language barriers, financial difficulties, social isolation, and a lack of recreational resources. These challenges leave many of these newcomers to rely on their children or grandchildren for support.

Developed for immigrant seniors in Calgary, ages 55+, CISP aims to increase social inclusion in clients by improving their personal capacity, self-sufficiency, and social ties. Over the last three years, the program has helped more than 1,200 seniors.

Hellen Yanjia, a CISP participant, found out about the program online. Since she started partaking in the activities, she has a better understanding of the Canadian people and culture.

“Without it, I’ll probably stay at home and know nothing about the outside world,” Hellen said.

One of the program’s activities is the English Conversation Corner for Multicultural Seniors. This event takes place every Monday and provides an opportunity for immigrant seniors to improve their conversational English skills. 

Liudmila Zinchenko is grateful for the CISP because it helps her practice her English skills and offers health benefits.

"This program helps me feel comfortable speaking English,” she said. “It also helps me interact with others, and I don’t have to worry about getting depressed.”

Hellen and Liudmila strongly recommend this program to seniors in Calgary. Hellen states, “The staff are nice and patient; they always give us their help.”

To celebrate 2024 Seniors Week, the ISC team, in partnership with other immigrant-serving agencies, organized a gathering for seniors at the Genesis Centre in Calgary on Tuesday, June 4, 2024; over 350 seniors attended the event.

Do you know a senior who could benefit from the CISP? Register them today by emailing or calling 403-265-1120.

About the Author

Damilola Kadiri is an international communications professional and author. She currently works as the communications lead at Immigrant Services Calgary. Outside work, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, listening to gospel music, and learning new things.

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