“I Love You”: Memoirs of My Grandchildren

The Diversity Times / The Korea Times received a grant from the Canadian government for the 2017-2018 NHSP yearlong project – “I Love You”: Memoirs of My Grandchildren. The project is collaborated with 5 senior groups in Manitoba: Downtown Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, Steinbach, Riverton and Scanterbury.

This project lead by the 5 senior groups began in April 2017 and is expected to be completed by March 2018. The main objective of the project is for seniors to voluntarily establish a special connection with their grandchildren.

An example would be collecting photos, letters, post cards and drawings associated to their grandchildren to reflect on the memories spent together. It is a great opportunity to recollect on the past and can prompt those involved to rethink their relationship before the seniors become too old.

The meeting and activity session this September was the midway point of the project and following up on the progress of the 5 groups was a meaningful occasion. The Diversity Times/The Korea Times have been supporting each individual group in their progression as well as provide extra motivation.

In September the Seven Oaks group had meetings and sessions independently of The Times after preceding decisions made collaboratively. The Times participated in the Scanterbury session in early September and in late September the Steinbach, Downtown Winnipeg and Riverton sessions. It is quite interesting that each group has their own unique characteristics due to the ethnicity and location.

The Seven Oaks group mainly consists of people from India, Philippines, Canada and Africa and as all members are retired they deploy their free time on the sessions. The members from Downtown Winnipeg, who are part of a larger city, are all also retired but most live alone and thus are located some distance away from their grandchildren – this allows them more free time.

Steinbach on the other hand is a town with a population around 17,000. There are seniors that have immigrated recently and most seniors live with their married children. They often do housework and babysitting in the place of their sons and daughters.

Riverton is about an hour and 45 minute drive to the north of Winnipeg and are mostly farmers and fisherman. This group mainly consists of Ukrainian, Métis, Indigenous, Filipino and Scandinavian members.

Due to their profession they are the busiest during summer. This group is unique as they have a very diverse group in terms of ethnicity. The Scanterbury group is unique in their own way as all members live within the reserve. It is no surprise that each group is progressing differently.

This “I Love you”: Memoirs of My Grandchildren project seems to be providing special meaning to many different members of the groups. A common trait among all groups was the fact that a great impression was left in their hearts through recollection of the past. Dusting off the layers of dust built up on old photos to remember those happy and sad times was a great moment for them.

Among the participants there were some who did not have any photos from the past, or some that were reluctant to recover old photos or letters that would bring back painful memories.

There was even a member that was troubled as they could not track old photos and documents that got lost when their only sister passed away. Fortunately most seniors, including some surviving cancer patients, had delightful reflections on the past.

During the project the participants were given the opportunity to meet many people to chat, share stories and enjoy a meal together. Some topics at the table included bargains on sale, decoration methods, arrangement techniques and album contents.

All members shared their stories to the group – even though each member fills up their own album, the members felt the responsibility of completing the project collaboratively as a group. Many seniors appeared to be delighted in joining the project to work together as a group. This was a great chance to add some spark to monotonous daily lives.

So far the seniors did at times feel overwhelmed to complete tasks within a deadline, but were nonetheless able to achieve their goals.

One member from Riverton shook their head in dismay as many different materials for the album were presented in front of them. She noted that she had not the slightest idea how to deal with the numerous album decorations and stickers. However once she was helped to complete the first page, she clapped in extremely joy and this moment provided happiness to everyone at the session that day.

The government funded yearlong project “I Love You”: Memoirs of My Grandchildren is organized by The Diversity Times/The Korea Times. This project is to allow seniors to be leaders and become involved in their communities.

This is the third government funded project The Times is running collaboratively with senior groups since the 2014-2015. The Legacy of Korea War veterans Photo Exhibition and the 2016-2017 Grannies’ Fashion Show: “We are here.”

Anyone who still wants to participate is open to apply, but there are conditions to be met. All materials are provided for free and there are many opportunities to meet with new people over a meal. All completed albums are kept by the creators once the project ends. (For all inquiries call: 204-663-5051, or email: tkoreatimes@gmail.com) (Olivia Do)