The Honourable Janice Filmon, C.M., O.M.
Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
Thursday, March 14, 2019 – 5:00 p.m.
Friends, Manitobans, fellow voyagers on this journey through time, it’s a pleasure to join you today as you work for inclusion and opportunity across the lifespan.
We are gathered on Treaty One land, on the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe and the homeland of the Metis people.
Today, we have the pleasure of meeting in a beautiful space that is dedicated to ensuring dignity, freedom and opportunity for all.
Here, at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, hundreds of thousands of visitors have been inspired by the stories of those who have struggled to end discrimination based on race, religion, culture, sex, orientation and disability.
While there has been great progress in all aspects of human rights throughout our lifetimes, in many ways attitudes regarding aging have been slow to change.
Discrimination based on age is specifically prohibited in the Charter of Rights. But that alone doesn’t change perceptions and assumptions made by millions of Canadians.
And let’s face it. These perceptions about ageing as a negative experience, about being older as a time of withdrawal and failing, were widely shared by many people who are now in their senior years.
Many of us grew up in a culture that worshipped youth – in part because in the 1950s and 60s the entertainment and advertising industries saw the massive Baby Boom generation as a cash cow.
If you were born in the first year of the Baby Boom you would have been 19 years old in 1965, when The Who first sang “hope I die before I get old.”
That was around the time when young people first began to say “never trust anyone over 30.”
A generation that grows up with those ideas will be slow to acknowledge the value of acquired wisdom and experience and reflection. It will be slow to see the challenges of isolation and loneliness that can come with age.
Such a generation will also seek out ways to magically stop the ageing process – whether through fitness classes, skin creams, wardrobe choices or more invasive processes.
But as we know, ageing is inevitable. We must learn to accept it in order to enjoy it. And part of learning to accept it means opposing ageism, whether it takes the form of outright discrimination or more subtle assumptions and perceptions.
What you’re doing today is important for all Canadians – those currently in their later years or those who will wake up with surprise some day to find they are.
Thank you and may you have a productive and enlightening gathering. Merci. Meegwich.