Feeling isolated, these immigrant seniors found a way to make friends while exploring Toronto

Feeling isolated during the pandemic, a group of Chinese seniors in Toronto decided to come together to beat loneliness and explore the city they now call home.

Through the non-profit Aging In Cloud, the seniors started meeting virtually last May, practicing hands-on skills like gardening and cooking. They were also taught how to access resources such as the Canadian Pension Plan. 

“Seniors [are] the people who need the most help and support,” Judy Du, co-organizer of Aging In Cloud, told CBC Toronto during a recent hike in Duncan Creek Trail. 

That’s especially true for seniors who are also immigrants, Du says, which is why their workshops and meet-ups are offered in Mandarin, giving members a chance to learn about the city in their own language. 

Aging In Cloud co-organizer Angela Wong, left, Annie Huang, centre, and Belinda Ren during a recent hike through Duncan Creek Trail in North York. (Laura Pedersen/CBC)


Now, as temperatures rise and COVID-19 restrictions ease, the group is meeting for in-person hikes in parks across North York. 

“When they land here, they have to get a job to support the family,” Du added.

“So lots of people don’t have the opportunity to get familiar with the city parks and nature. We just encourage them to get out of their homes.” 

Not only are they exploring new outdoor spots, they’re also trying to leave them in better shape than they found them, in some cases by picking up garbage along the way. 

“My favourite part is people gathering together and putting our concentration into our earth making it a better place for all,” said Qing Miao, a participant. 

Aging In Cloud was recently granted funding from Park People, which supports community park groups. 

Angela Wong, a co-organizer of the group, hopes this new funding will help them reach even more seniors in their community. 

“A lot of people are new to the country and have no ways to [get to] know people,” she said. 

“So when you see each other, you feel better.” 

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