Habitats, a social innovation project to rethink our old age

This text is part of the special booklet Living fully

How will we age? How can we create areas that meet our needs? With the Habitats movement, the organization Un et un font mille wants to find answers and solutions to these questions in order to create change in society.

In a CHSLD, a 75-year-old woman looks out the window. Like so many others, she can feel alone, excluded, forgotten. “How did we get here?” Asks the actor François Grisé at the end of the play All inclusive, inspired by his stay of several weeks in a CHSLD. How did we come to live our old age this way in Quebec? »

If the pandemic has largely underlined the crisis in the health system and in CHSLDs, political changes to rectify the situation are not there, the actor clarifies. And another challenge is increasingly felt: the rapid aging of the Quebec population.

“It’s the catastrophe that is coming, Mr Grisé believes. If we wait for the municipalities and the government to do something, we will wait a long time. What motivates me is the decision to overthrow the pyramid, to say: ‘Let’s take us together, use our intelligence, our experiences, look at what exists and what does not, or let us invent it. “

From this desire was born the Habitats movement, which evokes reflection and action in the light of the challenges and realities of aging. The project was launched during a first march for seniors in 2021, an initiative that will be repeated in 2022. “We want there to be thousands of people on the streets who say, ‘we will not feel excluded, we will have more transport, ”says Mr Grisé, who points out that mobility is one of the most important issues that seniors raise.

With the movement began a process of consultation and creation of projects with the aim of responding to specific problems. Multigenerational groups – interforas – have been formed in different regions of Quebec and meet regularly. Each group first defines a theme that it wishes to work on, such as civic participation or isolation, before examining the initiatives already implemented in the field.

Let’s meet, use our intelligence, our experiences, look at what exists and what does not exist, or let’s invent it.

The interforas will then work on developing a project prototype whose implementation could be carried out by people from the initiative. So far, five groups have been formed in the regions of Montreal, Lanaudière, Capitale-Nationale, Montérégie and Center-du-Québec. They will meet at a national forum to be held in May next year to discuss and learn about what has already been done in this area. Other groups will be gradually set up in the other administrative regions of the province over the three years of the project.

“What we are imagining is that the prototype created in Montreal or Quebec is starting to reproduce itself everywhere else,” Mr Grisé hopes. “We are at the beginning of something. We believe that in two years’ time there will be be young shoots, solutions that will emerge. We do not yet know what will emerge! “

The power of action

“The elderly generally do not feel included, they feel alone, they want to stay at home as long as possible, have access to sidewalks, to parks,” says François Grisé. We realized that people knew what they wanted. But we do not ask them. »

But how do you create change? After many performances of the play All inclusiveFrançois Grisé felt that the viewers felt helpless in the face of old age problems. “The people I talked to after the play said to me, ‘We do not talk so much about it, we do not know the other possibilities, we are a little lost,'” the actor notes. There are many links between climate change and old age: it is so big that it feels like we can do nothing about it. “

“The power of action is great empowering, Mr Grisé continues with passion. Instead of trying to solve all the problems of aging, we can create something that gives us a grip. What I learned [au fil des années], is the strength of the whole. This is how he also ends his piece All inclusive “Being together, acting together, is the only thing that really changes anything.”

To get involved

Individuals interested in participating in an interforum are invited to communicate with the Habitats team. Citizens of all ages are also invited to participate in the online citizen consultations to discuss the realities of aging, the National Forum, which will be held on 16 and 17 May, as well as the march for the International Day of Older Adults, 1 May.eh next October.

To watch in video

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