Dr. John Lewis is a citizen of the Metis Nation of Ontario, community planner and engineer who works in the areas of urban and landscape planning, geomatics software engineering, accessible planning, and age-friendly communities. He has worked professionally as an urban planner for municipal governments in Ontario and British Columbia and is currently a planning advisor to the Ontario Ministry of Seniors’ Affairs and professor at the University of Waterloo. Dr. Lewis is a founder and CEO Vidyā Inc., a software startup based in Kitchener-Waterloo that advocates for and works with communities to advance the twin ideals of contemporary community planning – visioning and collaboration for sustainable community growth.
Indigenous AFC: Understanding and Expressing Métis Voices in Ontario’s AFC Framework
The aging of Canada’s population overall has been extensively documented and researched, however, the challenges of aging within Métis and other Indigenous communities (i.e. First Nations and Inuit) are less understood. Although recent federal and provincial government initiatives are seeking to address the social and physical dimensions of aging in small urban and rural communities, age-friendly community (AFC) research with Métis communities and by Métis researchers and policy makers is relatively scarce. The significance of AFC planning for Indigenous communities is growing. As the proportion of Métis elders is projected to increase in the next five to ten years, geographic isolation and the diminished capacity of traditional community relationships to provide culturally relevant and safe care challenges the ability of Métis elders to age well and age-in-place. As Ontario’s local governments strive to address the aging of non-Indigenous residents, they are turning in greater numbers towards the use of AFC frameworks developed by the WHO and the Ministry of Seniors Affairs. Developing an AFC framework that is both recognized by local governments but is also developed by and for Métis people is, therefore, both necessary and timely. This presentation addresses the absence of a Métis perspective within the Province of Ontario’s age-friendly communities planning framework and discusses the unique needs of Métis elders for culturally relevant programs and services that contribute to their capacity to age well and age-in-place.