Kahir Lalji is a community champion and non-profit leader. Inspired by caring for his grandparents, Kahir dedicated the last 15+ years of his life to supporting the quality of life of older adults – always attempting to ensure the representation of traditionally underserved populations. He is the Provincial Director of Population Health with the United Way of the Lower Mainland and the Executive Director of the United Way Southern Interior BC.
Kahir is a Gerontologist with a Masters of Gerontology from Simon Fraser University, and also has a fellowship in developmental leadership and evaluation. He is on the Advisory Board of Aging 2.0, the President of the Board of Directors for British Columbia Original Minds Association. Kahir also serves on the Board of Directors for HelpAge Canada and BC211 and is a Member on the Aga Khan Health Board for Canada.
Kahir will present on the role that cultural, faith, and religious communities play in fostering healthy aging, and set the context for the case studies, tools, and resources that will be highlighted.
Bonds and Belonging – The Role of Culture and Faith Communities in Healthy Aging
Barbara’s focus on increasing impact and sustainability through capacity building, strategic philanthropy, and intentional use of networks is the culmination of over 40 years experience in community, organization, and network development. In that time, she has worked and volunteered with a wide range of community and civil sector organizations locally and globally, including Vancouver Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, and Health Canada’s Health Promotion Directorate. Now, as Provincial Community Engagement Coordinator with United Way’s Population Health Team, she is leading initiatives such as the community-based seniors services knowledge hub (Healthy Aging CORE), ReThinking Aging, and UW’s Canadian Men’s Shed Movement development initiative.
Barb holds a BA in Communications from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Management Degree (National Voluntary Sector Leaders) from McGill University.
Barbara will present on a variety of strategies and tools developed to ensure community-based organizations serving older adults have access to programs, services, activities and resources that are culturally, linguistically, and ethnically inclusive.
Amaan Fazal has been a community volunteer for over 25 years. As a volunteer he has worked in various capacities to serve the needs of members of all ages in the community. Service to others is an important component of Amaan’s life, which brought him into the non-profit sector after spending the beginning of his career in digital marketing and public relations on both the agency and brand side. With aging parents, aunts, uncles, and close loved ones, Amaan has become more aware of some of the challenges our aging population faces. This has fueled the inspiration to want to do more for our community, including our older adults, with his work at United Way British Columbia.
Amaan’s education and experience in digital marketing and communications allows him to find creative solutions to make tools for healthy aging accessible and easier to find. In addition to his work at United Way British Columbia, Amaan serves on the Board of Director for British Columbia Original Minds Association and as a Member on the Aga Khan Council for British Columbia.
Amaan will present on a collaboration with a faith community to develop an online Aging in Place Toolkit.
Angela Brooks, United Way, Canada
Kahir Lalji, United Way, Canada
Barbara McMillan, United Way, Canada
Amaanali Fazal, United Way, Canada
All older people are unique individuals with their own distinctive personalities and histories – something that doesn’t change with aging. However, like people of all ages, older individuals often belong to various communities with which they share common interests, values, beliefs, traditions, or experiences that contribute to group members having similar attributes, needs, or concerns. Some of these groups, such as cultural, faith, and religious communities, can have profound impacts on members’ health and wellness as they age. They can also have significant impact on the wider community and strengthen civil society through the social capital that is created through the relationships within and between groups, and the diverse perspectives brought to the table.
How do group ties created through shared traditions and practices, common values, or collective experience counter social isolation and contribute to health and quality of life as people age? What barriers do many members of such groups face in accessing supports for aging in place? What can service providers do to support the well-being of older immigrants, members of LGBTQ2, Indigenous, disabled, and other often marginalized communities as they age? How can we share learnings and mobilize knowledge across different cultures and faiths, and among other groups of older adults who are often seen as outside the mainstream?
This interactive session will explore the role that cultural, faith, and religious communities play in fostering healthy aging. It will also examine the challenges that members of such groups can experience due to language barriers, stereotypes, and lack of cultural awareness that prevents access to programs, services, and other resources. The session will further consider how, when older individuals, the groups they belong to, and the organizations that support healthy aging work in concert, the understanding of what helps and hinders wellness and aging in place is expanded and is more inclusive and effective for everyone. Examples of effective strategies and tools for development of cultural competence and inter-faith and inter-cultural collaboration will be presented, along with case studies and relevant resources.