LIVING SLOVAK
THE CHURCHES, CENTRES OF ACTIVITY
THE ORGANIZATIONS
WILL YOU SPEAK SLOVAK?
THE UNKNOWN ARTS
SOCIAL NEEDS
COMMUNICATIONS
IS IT TIME TO GO BACK?
IT'S ONLY POLITICS
YOU'VE GOT TO BE THERE
WHO WILL SPEAK FOR US?
REMEMBERING THE PAST
THE WIRED COMMUNITY
PROJECTS TO CONSIDER
SPORTS TIMES
A PLACE TO SHOW OUR STUFF
THE STRUGGLING ARTS
COME TOGETHER
WHAT YOU MUST DO
SLOVAK SOM, AJ SLOVAK BUDEM!

Slovaks in Canada
in the Year 2000

by John V. Stephens, Q.C.,
Honorary Consul, Slovak Republic


SOCIAL NEEDS

The largest Slovak wave of immigration came to Canada in the late 20s and the 30s. Most were young people ranging in age from 18 to 25, looking to make some money for the family left behind in Slovakia.

They were the ones who developed this Canada through clearing forests, working the mines, tilling the land and looking after the cattle. Today, if they are still alive, they are in their 80s and 90s. Those who came after the Second World War were older and more established, and now are in their late 60s and 70s.

Canada has been kind to them. They have been able to live the kind of lives they wanted, had the health care they needed, so that many were able to enjoy their elderly lives by seeing their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren.

In those early days, there was an ethic that the children look after their parents, and it was considered a shame if a parent were to be placed in an old folks home where the older people felt they had been abandoned and left to die.

Today, senior citizen homes in many cases are pleasant buildings in which to live, like the Loyola Arrupe complex at Bloor and Parkside in Toronto which has Slovak involvement through Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church. Not only is the building attractive, there are seniors programs available which help the elderly spend their time and still enjoy the grandchildren when they visit.

Our Slovak priests, Lutheran and Catholic, have had a difficult time ministering unto our elderly who are spread across Metropolitan Toronto, and they would like nothing better than to have a couple of homes centrally located in which Slovaks would be the principal residents.

The Canadian Slovak League began a program of seniors homes in Cambridge and Brantford, but the directors of those homes chose to sever their connection with the Canadian Slovak League, and now those homes are no longer connected to the Slovak Canadian community.

Each year, more of our elderly reach the age when they need both a convenient place to live and for nursing and medical care to be available. As the elderly get older, when diseases such as Alzheimers strike, the children are often in no position to provide the intensive nursing care that their parents need. To put them in private homes often is too expensive.

It is difficult for a father or a mother to accept that he or she can no longer live with the children, or live alone in a large house, that one can be a danger to oneself.

In the years ahead our community must build more seniors homes with the assistance of government. There is much space about the Cathedral of the Transfiguration, and we should consider looking there to see whether we can house our elderly in a place close to the cathedral and have medical and nursing care available.

No person should feel embarrassed because they are going to a seniors' home. It is no longer a shame. One must understand that one needs to live in a place that has the care one needs as one gets older and which the children can't provide at home.

Nothing sickens a child more than to see a parent an Alzheimer's patient becoming like a baby, forgetting even how to eat or dress or to do normal bodily functions. There is a limit to how much care the children can provide in a situation like that.

This means our community must not only have to ensure that our elderly are properly looked after, but programs must be developed and be made available to them to interest them in their final days. This is an enormous problem, and those with some knowledge of social needs should start helping the community plan.

Copyright of "Slovaks in Canada in the Year 2000" 1996 - John V. Stephens, Q.C.
All other contents & photographs 1997, Ondro Mihal.
All comments should be forwarded to
Ondro Mihal at omihal@slovak.com.
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Last update on
May 29, 1997.