June is Seniors’ Month in Ontario with 2018 marking the 34th year that municipalities and community organizations recognize seniors by organizing recognition events, socials and seniors’ information and active living fairs.
This year’s theme is, “Now’s the time to start something new,” which highlights how aging does not prevent anyone from leading fulfilling lives. The Ontario government website states; “Seniors continue to contribute to their communities and we can all benefit from their wisdom, friendship, and experience.”
The provincial government offers the Ontario Senior Achievement Award that recognizes individuals for significant contributions to their communities after the age of 65. Up to 20 individuals are recognized each year. Deadline for entries is Friday, June 15.
Nominees must be Ontario residents and have contributed to the community after the age of 65 in many different fields such as the arts, literature, community service, volunteering, education, environment, fitness, and humanitarian activities. An independent selection committee, appointed by the Minister of Seniors Affairs and made up of senior community members, selects the recipients. A special ceremony honouring the recipients is held in the fall at Queen’s Park.
The list of 2017 recipients included:
Mardan Singh Grewal of Brampton helps seniors remain active and healthy. He organizes exercise programs, like yoga and jogging groups. He also arranges lectures and educational workshops on topics like health, personal fitness, and seniors’ rights.
Lillie Johnson of Toronto founded the Sickle Cell Association of Ontario and has spent her retirement raising awareness of this genetic disease. Her efforts paid off in 2006, when the province made it mandatory to screen all babies born in Ontario for sickle-cell disease. Recently, Lillie has become an advocate for reform in Ontario’s long-term care system.
David Kent of Mississauga is an educator and advocate for the rights of seniors and long-term care residents. He facilitates student programs to de-stigmatize the perception of long term care homes, teaches his fellow residents Canadian History, and upholds their rights as Vice-President of the Ontario Association of Residents’ Councils.
Margaret Larson of Oakville is a conservationist who works to preserve monarch butterfly populations and their habitats. Margaret also works with volunteers to conserve the milkweed plant, a key source of food for the monarch. She speaks at schools and community centres to educate others about the importance of environmentalism.
Jane Pristach of Toronto became the Executive Director of the Norfinch Care Community at the age of 65. In the decade since then, Pristach has ensured that the residents of her care community lead active, engaged, and independent lives. She organized a petition among residents pressing the government to increase long-term care funding, and brought election officials into the facility to encourage residents to vote.
Lois Rice of Oakville has worked with the William Osler Health System Foundation to improve healthcare facilities in Brampton. She co-chaired the fundraising campaign to build the Peel Memorial Hospital and hosted numerous charity events.
RoseMarie Threndyle of Toronto is a volunteer bereavement counsellor with Better Living Health and Community Services. Over the past six years she has spent more than 900 hours visiting terminally ill patients, offering wisdom and comfort.
Eileen Joyce Woods of Burlington is president of the residents’ council at Hampton Terrace Long-Term Care Facility, and an advocate for sufferers of Parkinson’s disease. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease herself at the age of 70, and shortly afterward began volunteering with the Parkinson’s Society of Southwestern Ontario.