9th Annual Ellen M. Gee Memorial Lecture

EGML2011 - "Voices of Canadian Chinese Older Adults: Implications for Policy and Practice in a Culturally Diverse Aging Society "
Presented 4 November 2011 by
Dr. Daniel Lai, PhD, RSW, is Professor and Associate Dean (Research & Partnerships) of the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary.



Chinese in Canada have a lengthy history of settlement and community development. Social and economic contexts have shaped the community constitution of Chinese older adults in this country, resulting in unique socio-cultural characteristics and diversity within this largest visible minority aging population in Canada. Research findings in Canada have consistently pointed to the challenges, barriers as well as strengths of this subpopulation. From these research findings, voices and needs of the aging Chinese should be better revealed and heard while myths and misunderstandings against this vulnerable subgroup should be further eliminated.

This presentation focuses on linking research findings to different community realities faced by aging Chinese in Canada. From research on the aging Chinese and other culturally diverse older adults, lessons and learning are shared with the purpose of further illustrating the voices of culturally diverse older adults in the context of service provision and policy development. The conclusion of this presentation calls for social leadership and political courage of decision makers to look beyond previous and current community needs and issues to better prepare for a culturally inclusive aging society.

About the Speaker:

Daniel Lai, PhD, RSW, received his undergraduate and graduate training in social work, sociology, and urban studies in Hong Kong and Calgary back in mid-1980s. In 1997, he received his PhD in social work from the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Before joining the University of Calgary in 2000, Daniel had taught in different universities and post-secondary education institutions in Asia and Canada, including the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Grant MacEwan Community College, and University of British Columbia Okanagan (formerly known as Okanagan University College). He also took up adjunct teaching roles at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Fudan University in China. Currently, Daniel is Honorary Professor of the University of Hong Kong and Invited Professor of the Nanjing Normal University.

For years, his teaching and research focus on relationship between culture, health, and well being of aging immigrants and culturally diverse populations, family caregiving issues, and social policy issues related to population aging. Daniel is a prolific researcher who held the Alberta Heritage Health Scholar Award between July 2003 and 2009. He has been very successful in receiving research funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Daniel publishes extensively, with over 80 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, and over 300 conference papers and invited presentations. He was the Social Policy and Practice Section Editor for the Canadian Journal on Aging between August 2003 and July 2007. Between 2004 and 2008, he served on the Institute Advisory Board of Institute of Aging, Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

His research expertise is well recognized in different parts of the world, as indicated through his association with different research organizations. For example, he is an Invited Senior Researcher of the Jiangsu Gerontology Association, Honorary Research Fellow at the Sau Po Centre on Ageing of The University of Hong Kong, and Research Affiliate of the Prairie Metropolis Centre.

As a Registered Social Worker in Alberta, Daniel is highly involved in policy development and community services, striving to integrate research, practice, and policy. He was a member of the Demographic Planning Commission in Alberta and involved in the development of the Population Aging Framework of the Government of Alberta. At the community level, Daniel had also served on many non-profit boards, including AMSSA (Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Services Agencies of BC), Canadian Mental Health Association in Calgary, and United Way of Calgary and Area. Currently, he sits as a board member of the Alzheimer Society of Calgary, Canadian Association of Gerontology, and Calgary Family Services.