Nicole has spearheaded HelpAge Canada’s Digital Literacy programs since joining the organization in July 2020. This includes leading the development and delivery of the pan-Canadian Dig-IT program which provides tablets, data and digital literacy education paired with volunteer support to low-income seniors; as well as the Connected Elders and Youth program, a unique intergenerational digital learning program being delivered in eight communities that incorporates Inuit guiding principles for societal values, employs youth in each community as digital mentors and provides over 250 devices.
In addition to digital literacy, Nicole is overseeing HelpAge Canada’s granting program that combats social exclusion and creates innovative programming for low-income older Canadians, and is leading work related to Age-friendly transportation.
Prior to joining HelpAge Canada, Nicole worked to ensure diversity at the most senior levels of organizations across Canada, as an executive search consultant with a Diversity and Indigenous search practice. Working with organizations and communities coast to coast to coast has given Nicole an appreciation for the diversity of cultures and the disparity of needs in Canada. This drives her to ensure that both existing and new HelpAge Canada programs best respond to the priorities of older adults as they identify them, and the communities of which they are apart.
Connected elders and youth: Intergenerational digital literacy programming in Canada’s north
Nicole Perry, HelpAge Canada, Canada
Launching in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut in September, Connected Elders and Youth employs a train-the-trainer approach to build local capacity to teach Elders digital literacy. Elders in community learn from young Inuit mentors how to use a tablet to communicate, access information and services, as well as for entertainment and knowledge sharing purposes. Young adults receive specific training to teach Elders. Teaching occurs in both English and Inuktitut and learning modules are unique to northern life and encompass Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit (IQ), the Inuit principles for societal values.
HelpAge Canada’s poster presentation describes the Connected Elders and Youth program objectives, the participatory approach to program design and delivery, and underscores community development gaps and outcomes as they relate to digital literacy in the north. What began as a goal to support intergenerational connection through teaching and learning digital skills, quickly grew to include many other positive outcomes: opportunities to share language and culture, for participation in the workforce, and to overcome infrastructure gaps, amongst others.
In considering these outcomes, it is important to acknowledge the impacts of colonization on community wellbeing. Colonization caused a break in the transmission of IQ. For Inuit, being grounded in IQ contributes to a collective cultural sense of health and wellness. With only 390 Elders (according to 2016 census data) aged 65 and older live in the seven Kivalliq communities, opportunities to share IQ are time relevant.
Inuit communities have a Community Well-being Index (CWB) score of 16.2 points below other Canadian communities. Many of the components measured by the CWB can be closely tied to digital literacy including education, labour activity, and income. While the CWB does not measure other equally important aspects of well-being such as health, culture, and happiness, this presentation will present findings on outcomes related to increased digital literacy in these areas as well. This presentation informs about the digital divide in the north, diversity and inclusion in the digital world, and Nunavut’s infrastructure gaps (revealed in a 2020 report by Nunavut Tunngavik).
An Inuk artist has designed the logo for the Connected Elders and Youth program. The logo represents the importance of Indigenous knowledge in supporting wellness in Inuit communities, which this unique digital literacy program strives to embrace. The poster presentation will showcase this.