• isolation and the emotional pain of being unable to connect in a meaningful way with others in the community, and to share their experiences, stories, and language.
  • missing out on income and social security benefits.
  • living unhealthy lifestyles.

Aboriginal seniors living in a complex world of multiple literacies may be at higher risk of suffering the consequences of low literacy.

Based on current methods of assessing English literacy rates, more than half of the seniors population is considered illiterate. In the next decade, the seniors population will multiply 1.5 times. Rapidly changing information and communication technologies will challenge even educated seniors. Aboriginal seniors are not expressing their literacy of the people and the land with the same frequency as they did in the past. To maintain the health of Aboriginal cultures, Aboriginal literacy will be needed.

Seniors’ Preferences for Literacy Supports

NWT seniors are interested in supports for their literacy needs. Despite the range of efforts to maintain seniors’ enrolment, literacy is a ‘hard sell’ to seniors. To overcome challenges to engaging seniors in literacy activities, seniors identify the following preferences.

NWT seniors are more likely to be engaged in a literacy learning activity if:

  • they participate in developing the activity and it is designed for them.
  • they are in familiar and accessible locations with transportation provided.
  • they have reminders, word of mouth/personal invitations and audio/visual information about the activity.
  • learning activities are community-based, culturally relevant, fun, provide snacks, and bring seniors together.
  • learning activities offer less structured approaches, (e.g. short-duration workshops, longer-term small group learning, and classroom sessions designed for seniors).
  • familiar and trusted workers are involved and use a non-threatening (teaching) style.