Panel discussion on LGBTQ Seniors Housing

HALIFAX • 2018-06-27 • By Jordan Parker

Dalhousie University is taking cues from the European Union in their public panel and discussion surrounding housing for seniors in the LGBTQi2S population in Halifax.

Keynote Speaker Anders KottorpKeynote speaker, Anders Kottorp, from Malmö University, Sweden will be on-hand. He co-authored a 2014 study on the needs, preferences and concerns for the ageing LGBT people in Sweden with concern to housing.

The panel will include Liesl Gambold from Dal, Bob Linscott from the Fenway Institute in Boston, Mike Tutthill from the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg, and Johanne Sanschagrin from CMHC in Ottawa.

Dalhousie masters student Katherine Eckert is working as a student volunteer to plan the event.

"This is a great way to provide visibility and raise awareness for issues facing older LGBTQ+ adults, and I think a lot of older people in our community lived difficult lives where they feared discrimination and violence," said Eckert.

"Nursing homes may not have the most visible supports here, and many could still be afraid of being treated differently due to their sexuality. Our elderly residents shouldn't go back into the closet, and we need to ensure their safety."

Eckert, who recently came out as a lesbian, wanted to volunteer within the community in a way that mattered, and she thinks this will help.

"Our keynote is from Europe, and they have such different, inclusive models of care there. They provide a safe environment so people don't feel alone or isolated," she said.

Tracy Barron, spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia department of health, send a wide-ranging statement on behalf of the province as a whole.

"Government is certainly aware of this conversation and its importance. This is in line with Shift: Nova Scotia’s Action Plan for an Aging Population, which speaks to the need for polices and programs to support inclusion, recognizing the diversity in the older adult population," the statement reads.

"This is also an area of growing importance for Housing Nova Scotia as it relates to access to safe, affordable housing."

The government sees the importance of inclusivity for elderly LGBTQ+ members of the community.

"All Nova Scotians deserve a safe and welcoming environment in which to live and thrive. Housing Nova Scotia, is committed to working with the federal government and community partners to further understand the gaps that may exist so that we can better meet the needs of the LGBTQ community and other Nova Scotians," said th statement.

"We look forward to attending the panel discussion and how it may help to further inform our policies and practices."

Eckert wants to ensure this event provides awareness about the issues at hand.

"These people need to be seen and visible. The older residents need to know there is acceptance and inclusivity they may not have had growing up," she said.

"This is a great opportunity for people to connect . People can be themselves and really feel like their issues are addressed."

The panel is a partnership between a number of different departments within Dalhousie University, as well as Halifax Public Libraries.

It will be held in Paul O'Regan Hall at the Halifax Central Library on June 29, 2018, from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

All are welcome, and for more information, email jacqueline.gahagan@dal.ca or liesl.gambold@dal.ca

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