At the end of 2018, the Community Initiatives for Immigrant Seniors Program (CISP) at Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) and the Department of English at Mount Royal University (MRU) started a collaboration which was at first a pilot project. As part of the project, undergraduate students taking the Experiential Studies in Creative Writing course led by Dr. Natalie Meisner and CISP multicultural seniors would meet on a weekly basis to explore creatively in pairs and write stories on a set theme.
In August 2019, A Colourful Life, the first printed anthology of creative stories by ISC seniors and MRU students was launched in an event that was honoured by the presence of Hon. Josephine Pon, Alberta’s Minister of Seniors and Housing. The pilot was tremendously successful, so we continued with a second anthology, Food: for the Body, Mind and Spirit, launched in a public event in January 2019.
2020 brought along incredible challenges for everyone, but this collaboration had to continue - CISP participants needed this more than ever before – and so, we adapted to the new, virtual reality. In this new reality, seniors and students met via Zoom and recorded their stories instead of writing them. The clip we share here, artfully assembled by our video editor Andrea Wong, is our third anthology of creative stories and it is titled Joy, Happiness, and the Good Life. It was completed in March 2020.
The Community Initiatives for Immigrant Seniors Program (CISP) is a social inclusion initiative funded by Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) and designed to enhance the integration and inclusion of vulnerable immigrant seniors from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, creating welcoming and supportive environments to help them feel respected and valued. If you are interested in learning more about CISP or want to join this program, please email email@example.com.
Alina Ghita-Visinescu is the CISP program coordinator at ISC. Born and raised in Romania, she is passionate about social change and always wanted to work with people from around the world.
Dr. Natalie Meisner is a professor of English at MRU, Calgary's 5th Poet Laureate and a celebrated Canadian author.
Project Support Team
Aida Patient is an associate professor in the Department of English, Languages, and Cultures at MRU where she teaches and researches women’s writing and early modern literature.
Parminder Gill is CISP’s program facilitator, highly devoted to giving back to her community through various ISC activities, which she has been doing for more than 8 years. Born and raised in India and holding a master’s degree in sociology, she is very enthusiastic about encouraging the pursuit of excellence in the community and enjoys working with multicultural seniors.
Yuchang (Joy) Tan is originally from China and has worked at ISC in various capacities since 2009. She enjoys working with diverse seniors and motivating them to be active and independent and has successfully done so since 2016 as CISP’s program facilitator.
Sara Naghedi-Ahmadi is originally from Iran and has been with ISC since 2011, first as volunteer and then as settlement counselor and community programs facilitator. With her background in arts, she always finds ways to engage the seniors in creative expression and encourages them to cultivate their zest for life.
Andrea Wong is an MRU graduate who works in non-profit communications. She enjoys connecting people through storytelling, and this is her second time as the project’s graphic designer.