On October 25th, CultureLink held its 2018 Annual General Meeting. Alongside official business, we celebrated 30 years of diversity, inclusion, and growth with a special event showcasing our Seniors program.
Our senior clients showed their musical talents and their powers as public entertainers. First, the Polish group engaged the audience in their singing. A crowed of over 100 repeated “Koo koo! Ah ah!” on cue, setting the cheerful tone of the evening. Then the Spanish-speaking group rocked the room with dances from different Latin nations, and with two songs. The audience was on its feet, cheering and clapping, taken by the energy of the musical seniors.
On the serious side, we heard from Grace, Teresa, and Wanda about their experiences in the Seniors program. They spoke of the community, activity, and broadened horizons that the program brought into their senior years.
Bhutila Karpoche, MPP for Parkdale–High Park, congratulated CultureLink on its success over the years in supporting newcomers and community member in building their confidence, sense of belonging, and skills, and bettering their lives in Canada. Bhutila also spoke specifically about her interest in mental health and addiction issues, and about the importance of improving services and awareness in our communities.
Bhutila’s talk was a perfect preamble to the Keynote speech by Giselle Vazquez Gil, who spoke to us about mental health in senior years in the context of immigration. Using personal examples from her family’s experience, Giselle delivered a moving talk about both the mental health risks faced by seniors, particularly newcomers, and about the strategies to mental strength. Using the example of the Thursday Afternoon Tea program she is leading with seniors in CultureLink, she demonstrated the power of community programs to foster mental health.
The festivities closed with a recognition of our colleagues who have reached milestones in their service, and to the volunteers who make the Seniors program a success. An educational, emotional and entertaining evening would not have been complete without a dinner, made for the most part by our own team.
Both in its content and in the team effort required to bring this wonderful evening together, our 2018 AGM was exemplary of what CultureLink stands for: making a group of individuals into one community moving forward, with many cultures, but one CultureLink.