Today, June 1, Intergenerational Day (IG Day), we need look no further to find examples of our human need to connect than the pain and emotional distress people are feeling being unable to visit with their senior family members living in Ontario long term care homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The inability to stand even two metres away because of the high risk to seniors health has seen people increase phone calls with elderly relatives and friends or gather outside windows for visits. A recent example in Belgium demonstrates how strong our need for human connection is with our elderly where a contractor used his crane to help people reach balconies of isolated and lonely family members.
It’s become clearer than perhaps ever before how important and how dear our elderly population is to us, and it gives us new appreciation for the need to stay close to the people who are often society’s loneliest.
IG Day is the celebration of the power of intentional, respectful connection between older adults and children/youth. The broader purpose of the day is to enhance awareness of elder abuse. It was initiated in 2010 by student groups from Newfoundland, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia that are funded by i2i Intergenerational Society and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
So far, 12 provinces and territories and over 100 cities have officially recognized the day with three provinces (ON, MB, NB) and the Toronto District School Board proclaiming it by law, in-perpetuity.
Ideally, the best way to celebrate IG Day is with our seniors – being close to them and sharing our similarities and learning from each other. However, social distancing will prevent that this year. Instead, OPSEU encourages everyone – youth or non-youth alike – to make a call, a visit in a safe distance manner, or download the poster found on this page and share it on social media with the hashtag #IGDayCanada.
Ontario’s seniors are amongst our most cherished residents, friends, and family members. Let’s makes sure we respect and appreciate them every day.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of OPSEU
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer