Life is too short to fight – be kind to one another

Toronto pilot program showcases the power of stories in strengthening bonds between seniors and youth.


TORONTO: With almost universal unanimity, the advice seniors living in North York want to give
youth is that kindness and the desire to give back are the most important qualities a person can
foster. The headline quote was spoken by Antoinette Charlebois, a woman who knows too much
about cruelty. She and her sister, Marie Slark were both institutionalized at a young age at the
Huronia Regional Centre and subject and witness to multiple abuses over years. In April of 2009,
Marie and Patricia Seth launched a class action lawsuit against the Government of Ontario for
mistreatment at Huronia, which was settled for $35,000,000.

Antoinette’s story is one of series of interviews with seniors produced by youth over the past 4
months for the pilot program: Our Neighbours’ Stories. The collection of these interviews is
launching May 26, 2022 online and in exhibition at the Centennial Branch of the Toronto Public
Library. Ward 6 City Councillor, James Pasternak will officially open the exhibition at 2pm.

Our Neighbours’ Stories was originally designed by Post Bellum in the Czech Republic. The Czech
program realized that a profound connection was made between seniors and youth in the
recording of the life story, along with the development of critical thinking and an appreciation of
experience and life choices. In running the pilot in Toronto, the community team involved has seen
these outcomes realized here.

The pilot was one of two programs tested in Toronto’s Bathurst and Finch neighbourhood, as part
of the Caring Community Challenge. The Challenge was launched in 2020, asking the question:
How can we look after each other better in the places where we are? The community members
wanted to answer that question by focusing on building relationships across intergenerational and
intercultural lines.

Join us at the launch: Toronto Public Library, Centennial Branch, 578 Finch Avenue West, Toronto
Thursday May 26, Remarks at 2pm
You can also watch and listen to Our Neighbours’ Stories from May 26, 2022 by visiting

Interested in speaking with one of the seniors or youth in the pilot and learning more about the
Caring Community Challenge?

CONTACT: Geraldine Cahill, UpSocial Canada and Caring Community Challenge co-facilitator
p: +1 416-566-5313
twitter: @gcahill
UpSocial Canada is a program of

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