October 26: Live stream of “Ageing, the digital and everyday life”

On Friday, October 26th 2018 join us for the live stream of Ageing, the Digital and Everyday Life, a one day seminar held at Brunel University London in the United Kingdom. The stream begins at 10:30am BST. 

The speakers are an interdisciplinary group of academics and researchers from the arts, the social sciences and Science and Technology Studies (STS) and include both members of the ACT partnership, and wider international colleagues whose work focuses on ageing, the digital and everyday life. The seminar will provide an opportunity to examine and review the study of ageing, the digital and everyday life from a wide range of perspectives and to critically explore future challenges and possibilities. The seminar is organized by Wendy Martin (Brunel University London) and Paul Higgs (University College London).

A full programme is available here.

ACT members will appear at CRTC hearings on October 23, 2018

Kim Sawchuk, Anne Caines, and Kendra Besanger will travel to Gatineau, QC to participate in the CRTC’s public hearing on Canadian telecommunication companies’ aggressive and misleading sales tactics.

ACT will present findings from their recent report, Experiences of Older Adults with Abusive Sales Practices of Canadian Telecommunication Providers.

Read more about the full intervention here.

Expanding our understanding of activism(s) by sharing stories of older activists

In their recently released book, Unsettling Activisms: Critical Interventions on Aging, Gender, and Social Change (Women’s Press, 2018), editors May Chazan, Melissa Baldwin, and Patricia Evans present compelling reasons why our common perceptions of activisms and activists need to be expanded; specifically, expanded to include the work of older women activists.

Creating spaces for dialogue and critical exploration at GUSEGG: a Conversation with Dr. Kim Sawchuk on the 2018 ageing, communication, and technologies module.

Each year in July, GUSEGG provides a unique opportunity for professors and students from around the world to explore new ideas and dive into challenging topics. It is intensive, personal, intimate, and distinct from a typical university setting. Students and professors learn together from early morning until late evening in a setting where critical thought and challenging conversations extend beyond the walls of the classroom.

RECAA’s activism and World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

une 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD). It was initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations in 2006, and serves as a day for the world to voice its opposition to the mistreatment of seniors. In Montreal, ACT’s community partner Respecting Elders: Communities Against Abuse (RECAA) uses the day to inclusively raise awareness of elder mistreatment and elder abuse, by way of theatre practices, creative interventions and hand-to-hand leafleting in the streets.

Portraits of Alzheimer’s and Dementia: Reimagining discourses on ageing.

If you google Alzheimer’s and dementia, you will find articles on “the ticking time bomb” of dementia and the socio-economic costs of Alzheimer’s. You’ll encounter videos of scientists speaking authoritatively on our inevitable cognitive decline and perhaps, most alarmingly, you’ll read messages explaining that we reach our intellectual peak at 25 years of age and it’s all just a sad descent from there.

Open letter to the mayor of Montreal

February 7, 2018


Ms. Valérie Plante
Mayor of Montreal
275 Notre-Dame St East
Montreal, Québec
H2Y 1C6


Dear Madam Mayor:

We are writing to you in response to the consultation process for the Plan d’action municipal pour les personnes aînées 2018-2020. While we are pleased to see the city developing an action plan for bettering the lives of Montreal seniors, we want to share concerns we have about the public consultation process, and are calling on the city of Montreal and its new administration to substantially improve the process in order to make a genuine effort to engage older adults in Montreal’s Municipalités amies des aînés (MADA) strategy.

We are writing on behalf of our respective research organizations: engAGE, the Centre for Research on Aging, and the international project Ageing, Communication, Technologies (ACT), both of which are based at Concordia University. In our work, we examine questions related to later life and we do collaborative research with seniors in the Montreal community.

We strongly believe that genuine public engagement needs to be a precursor to public policy, and we are following the city’s recently-announced public consultation process with great interest. We understand from the action plan’s webpage (https://www.realisonsmtl.ca/aines) that the consultation process entails an online survey, four public consultations sessions slated for February, and a guide to organize community conversations. Upon reading details of the MADA consultation process, we believe it will exclude the voices of seniors, especially those of seniors who are already most marginalized.

First, the public discussions are slated to occur in February, one of the coldest and snowiest months of the year. This is a time when we know seniors are wary of venturing out of their homes, and seniors with mobility issues will not likely attend. The seniors with whom we work have already expressed concerns that the weather and road conditions would prevent them from participating. Likewise, the locations that have been chosen for the consultations are not easily accessible for seniors who rely on public transit. Three out of four locations are next to metro stations that do not have elevators. The one location that is near an accessible metro requires an 11-minute walk to reach it. Aren’t the seniors with reduced mobility among those who are most acutely in need of an age friendly city?

Second, we are struck by the fact that the process seems to eliminate the opportunity for Montreal’s significant population of English-speaking seniors to participate. A 2006 report by the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages explains that English-speaking seniors in Montreal are at a higher risk of isolation than those who are French-speaking. As you surely know, most immigrant seniors in Montreal have English, not French, as their first official language. Why are older anglophones and immigrants being systematically disregarded in this consultation process?

From what we found, the website outlining the consultation process is only in French, as are the survey and the guide for organizing community discussions. We must also call attention to the unfortunate fact that no consultations are happening in the west of the city, in heavily English-speaking boroughs, including in Montreal’s most populous and diverse borough CDN-NDG. We hope that English-speaking Montrealers will be included in the four consultation sessions themselves, and that translation services will be provided.

Third, the survey designed to collect the opinions of Montrealers is only available online, and we haven’t seen non-digital alternatives for filling out the survey. We know from our research that seniors are less connected to the internet than younger individuals. We also know that seniors who are already otherwise marginalized are even less digitally connected. In fact, low digital literacy correlates with low general literacy, low education levels and poverty. The city’s online poll will reach the youngest, wealthiest and most educated seniors living in Montreal, and ignore the opinions and lived experiences of the oldest citizens as well as those who are already excluded or isolated in the city. For this consultation process to be inclusive and age friendly, steps need to be taken to include the opinions of seniors who are not online.

Fourth, and finally, the city encourages Montrealers to host their own community conversations, and provides a guide to facilitate these sessions. Small-scale community conversations are a nice idea, but how can they have an impact when the city is not listening? Nowhere does the city invite or provide a way for citizens to submit the ideas, reports or recommendations that will emerge from these conversations.

If Montreal wants to call itself an age friendly city, it should begin by adopting consultation processes that are attuned to the realities of the older adults who live here. We call for the city to extend its consultation period into the spring, and to take concrete, remedial steps to address the issues we have raised above. It is time for the new Mayor and administration to show Montrealers their commitment to a brand of public consultation that is thoughtful, genuine and inclusive.

Our research groups would be pleased to meet with Montreal’s MADA team to further discuss these issues, and to work together towards building a better and inclusive process.

Dr. Kim Sawchuk
Director, Ageing, Communication, Technologies (ACT)
Concordia University

Dr. Shannon Hebblethwaite
Director, engAGE: Centre for Research on Aging
Concordia University


Lettre ouverte à la mairesse de Montréal

Montréal, le 7 février 2018

Madame Valérie Plante
Mairesse de Montréal
275 rue Notre-Dame Est
Montréal, Québec
H2Y 1C6

Madame la Mairesse,

Cette lettre a pour objet le processus de consultation du Plan d’action municipal pour les personnes aînées 2018-2020. Nous saluons la volonté de Montréal d’élaborer un plan d’action pour améliorer les conditions de vie des aînés montréalais, mais nous voulons toutefois exprimer nos préoccupations quant au processus de consultation publique mis en place. Nous demandons à la ville de Montréal et à sa nouvelle administration d’apporter des améliorations importantes au processus et de faire un effort concret pour inclure les personnes âgées dans la stratégie Municipalité amie des aînés (MADA) de Montréal.

Nous vous écrivons au nom de nos groupes de recherche respectifs : le projet de recherche Ageing, Communication, Technologies (ACT) et engAGE, soit le Centre de recherche sur le vieillissement, tous deux basés à l’Université Concordia. Dans le cadre de nos recherches, nous nous intéressons aux questions liées au vieillissement et réalisons des projets en collaboration avec des aînés de la communauté montréalaise.

Nous croyons fermement que toute nouvelle politique publique doit se doter en amont d’un véritable processus de participation publique. C’est donc avec grand intérêt que nous suivons le processus de consultation publique récemment entamé par la ville. Le site web du plan d’action (https://www.realisonsmtl.ca/aines) laisse entendre que ce processus de consultation comprend un sondage en ligne, quatre discussions publiques prévues au mois de février, ainsi qu’un document préparatoire pour animer des discussions dans la communauté. Toutefois, force est de constater que le processus de consultation au sujet de MADA empêchera la participation de nombreux aînés, en particulier celle des plus marginalisés.

Premièrement, les discussions publiques ont lieu en février, l’un des mois les plus froids et enneigés de l’année. Nous savons tous que les aînés hésitent à s’aventurer à l’extérieur de chez eux dans de telles conditions. Les personnes à mobilité réduite n’assisteront fort probablement pas aux discussions. Les personnes âgées avec qui nous travaillons ont déjà exprimé leurs inquiétudes en rapport à la température et aux conditions des routes qui pourraient compromettre leur participation. De plus, les lieux choisis pour les consultations ne sont pas facilement accessibles pour les personnes âgées qui dépendent du transport en commun. Trois des quatre sites sont à proximité de stations de métro qui ne sont pas munies d’ascenseur. Le seul emplacement à proximité d’un métro accessible nécessite une marche de 11 minutes. Les aînés à mobilité réduite ne figurent-ils pas parmi ceux qui ont le plus besoin d’une « municipalité amie des aînés »?

Deuxièmement, le processus de consultation dans sa conception actuelle exclut la la participation de l’importante population aînée anglophone de Montréal. En 2006, un rapport du Commissariat aux langues officielles soulignait pourtant que les aînés anglophones de Montréal courent un plus grand risque d’isolement que les aînés francophones. Comme vous le savez sûrement, la majorité des aînés issus de l’immigration à Montréal ont l’anglais et non le français comme première langue officielle. Pourquoi les anglophones et les immigrants sont-ils systématiquement mis à l’écart dans ce processus de consultation? Le site web détaillant le processus de consultation n’est d’ailleurs qu’en français, tout comme le sondage et le document préparatoire. Il est aussi très regrettable qu’aucune consultation ne se tienne dans l’ouest de la ville, dans les arrondissements fortement anglophones, dont l’arrondissement de Côte-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, qui est non seulement le plus populeux mais aussi le plus multiculturel de Montréal. Nous espérons que les Montréalais et Montréalaises anglophones qui participeront aux quatre séances de consultation pourront au moins bénéficier de services d’interprétation.

Troisièmement, le sondage conçu pour recueillir les opinions des Montréalais et Montréalaises n’est disponible qu’en ligne et nous n’avons vu aucune alternative non numérique permettant de le remplir autrement. Nous savons, grâce à nos recherches, que les aînés utilisent moins Internet que les plus jeunes. Nous savons également que les personnes âgées qui sont déjà marginalisées utilisent encore moins Internet. En effet, une faible connaissance du monde numérique est liée à de faibles niveaux d’alphabétisation et de scolarité, ainsi qu’à un faible revenu. Un questionnaire en ligne ne fera que sonder les aînés les plus jeunes, les plus riches et les plus éduqués de Montréal, tout en excluant les opinions de ceux et celles qui comptent parmi les plus âgés, exclus ou isolés de notre ville. Pour que ce processus de consultation soit inclusif et adapté aux réalités du vieillissement, des mesures doivent être prises pour tenir compte les opinions des aînés qui n’ont pas accès à Internet.

Si Montréal souhaite réellement devenir une « municipalité amie des aînés », elle doit d’abord commencer par adopter des processus de consultation adaptés aux réalités des personnes âgées qui y vivent. Nous demandons à la ville d’étendre sa période de consultation jusqu’au printemps et de prendre des mesures correctives et concrètes pour remédier aux problèmes que nous avons soulevés par l’entremise de cette lettre. Le dossier MADA offre à la nouvelle mairesse et à son administration l’occasion parfaite de démontrer aux Montréalais et Montréalaises leur engagement envers une consultation publique qui est réfléchie et inclusive.

Nos groupes de recherche sont à votre entière disposition pour une rencontre avec l’équipe MADA de la ville afin de discuter de ces enjeux et de travailler, ensemble, vers l’élaboration d’un processus inclusif.

Kim Sawchuk
Directrice d’Ageing, Communication, Technologies (ACT)
Université Concordia

Shannon Hebblethwaite
Directrice d’engAGE, le Centre de recherche sur le vieillissement
Université Concordia

Women, Ageing and Media International Summer School 2018

The research group Women, Ageing, and Media (WAM) has issued a call for the 2018 edition of the WAM Research Summer School. The School, which will be held from June 26 to 28 2018 at the University of Gloucestershire in Cheltenham, UK, will bring together academics and international postgraduate researchers across disciplines whose research engages with women and ageing. This year’s theme is performativity and age, and will feature presentations from keynotes Wendy Martin and Josephine Dolan. more information about the School is available on WAM’s website.

ACT will cover travel costs for up to $1,500 CAD for ACT-affiliated students. Make sure




Conference theme: Performativity and Age


Abstracts are invited for presentations around questions of performing age at the intersections of qwhere women and ageing come together with:

Screen cultures
Popular music
Popular culture
Cultural activity
Lived experience