Over the last couple of years, Jewish Family Service Calgary (JFSC) along with Jewish Service agencies in Edmonton, Winnipeg and Ottawa, has been participating in a project funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program. The focus of the project is to raise awareness and provide resources relating to the often silenced topic of elder abuse. The project’s lengthy title – Pan-Canadian Elder Abuse Awareness and Education Program for Ethno-cultural Communities – is certainly justified by its wide scope that includes linguistically relevant resources development, workshop facilitation, and the production of an interactive socio-drama.
Each phase of the project presented us with amazing opportunities for connections and collaborations, both within and outside the Jewish community, all aimed at a common cause. At its inception, it involved establishing the Senior Advisory Committee, comprised of older-adult volunteers. Its members provide guidance and relevant perspective ranging from developing informational brochures, to directing the emphasis towards legal rights and responsibilities at our workshops. In order to accurately inform both service providers and community members about such legalities, we (JFSC) have been collaborating with the Calgary Police Service’s Elder Abuse Response Team.
The final phase involved putting together a socio-drama, appropriately titled The Silent Crime, which is a play with a narrator who leads the audience in discussion throughout the show. Our cast of volunteer actors, led by our director Stefanie Lis, have been delivering heart-felt, thought-provoking performances. It would be an understatement that the responses from the community have been exceeding our expectations. It is so encouraging to witness reactions ranging from shock to curiosity to outrage. We can only hope that this awareness will inspire compassion and a sense of responsibility in all generations in hopes to eradicate the risks of elder abuse.
Tanya Muschanov, M.C. Shalom Bayit and Pan-Canadian Project Coordinator, JFSC
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