For Kahir Lalji of United Way Lower Mainland, A Sense of Belonging is What Older Canadians Need to Thrive

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We sat down for a holiday fireside chat with Kahir Lalji, Executive Director at the United Way Lower Mainland, to reflect on the past year, his wishes for older Canadians and what comes next.

If you could make one holiday wish for older Canadians this year, what would it be, and why?

What the global COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is how critical strong connections and community are to one’s overall wellbeing and sense of safety and security. Considering this, my one holiday wish for older Canadians is that they each have a strong sense of belonging and connections in their respective community – whether it be with friends, family, neighbours, caretakers or colleagues. The sense of belonging and connection can go a long way in helping older Canadians thrive.

Looking back on this year, what are some accomplishments you’re most proud of?

I am proud of how the community-based seniors’ services sector stepped up in providing essential non-medical supports to those disproportionally impacted by the pandemic, and other social and environmental challenges impacting the lives of so many. Again and again, staff and volunteers continued to rise to the challenge.

What do the holidays mean to you?

The holidays mean to me a time for reflection, connection, and joy. Every holiday (regardless of how we define Holiday), I take some time to reflect on the year it has been, both the challenges and accomplishments. This helps me form my goals and intentions for the next year. I also spend quality time with my loved ones, which include my extended family and friends – sharing laughter and joy.

Looking to the New Year, what’s next in your work to support seniors?

At United Way British Columbia, we are excited to continue our work in developing and supporting programs that help older British Columbians to be active, connected and engaged. I am excited about the innovative work we are doing with digital technology and hope to continue to grow our recently launched digital learning project across the province. Increasing digital literacy not only helps seniors to be connected but also empowers them in an evolving digital world.

What’s your favourite holiday memory?

Every holiday brings me fond memories of learning, engaging, and connecting with my late grandmothers, the matriarchs of my extended family. It would come as no surprise their authentic and traditional home-cooked traditional Ismaili meals remain entrenched on my palate.


Canada’s National Seniors’ Advocacy Organization

Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work
University of Toronto

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