Immigrant Seniors

Research team: Caroline Andrew, University of Ottawa; Carl Nicholson, Catholic Centre for Immigrants; Houssein Charmarkeh, University of Ottawa; Yew Lee, Consultant; April Carrière, University of Ottawa

Institutional partners: Conseil Économique & Social d’Ottawa-Carleton; Catholic Centre for Immigrants; Ottawa’s Council on Aging

Senior immigrants arrive with a wealth of experience, knowledge, and skills, but these may remain largely underutilized after they arrive in Canada. This project will assess the need for ESL and FSL language training programs for immigrant seniors in Ottawa. It will also identify partners able to deliver such programs. A key research interest is whether the social, civic and economic integration of immigrant seniors plays out the same way for different ethnic, cultural and religious groups, and the role that language plays in these processes. In addition, an important question is whether integration plays out differently in Francophone minority communities.

The methodology will involve:

  • Interviews to examine the perspective of settlement agencies and community health centres
  • Research to identify language training programs available to seniors and language training programs that target seniors
  • Analyses of the Ottawa Multicultural Media Initiative Survey data to explore connections between seniors’ language skills and variables such as mother tongue, language spoken at home, age at arrival, sex, and official language (either French or English) favoured by the immigrant senior
  • An inventory and a survey analysis to assess whether the groups receiving services have the greatest needs

Senior oriented language training programs have shown positive results, helping senior immigrants to learn an official language, to overcome isolation, and to more fully participate in their communities.