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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Housing for Sikh seniors Rajan, Mrunalini


Housing needs for the elderly are a function of several processes accompanying aging. In the case of visible, immigrant seniors, additional factors such as ethnic origin and their length of stay in Canada come into play. Sikhs are a predominant and one of the fastest growing sectors in the Canadian multicultural mosaic. This visible ethnic group has a long history of immigration to British Columbia. Canadian immigration policies have shaped the character (age-sex distribution, occupation, education, geographic location) of the Sikh community over the period of their immigration history. Immigration trends, acculturation of the Canadian-born generation, changing family patterns and the efforts of the community to maintain its culture, religion and language, all shape the housing needs of Sikh seniors in the Canadian context. At present, the demographic profile of Canadian Sikhs reveals that the majority of them are in the 20-50 age group. This profile combined with the influx of new immigrants including aged parents and other relatives, indicates an imminent increase in the number of Sikh elderly in Canada. This study traces the assimilation of this community in Vancouver, and examines the suitability of housing options available to the mainstream Canadian elderly, for the Sikh elderly. A particular example considered for the purpose of this thesis is the small-scale congregate housing (Abbeyfield) alternative. Information from literature and a clustered survey of elderly Sikhs in Vancouver city suggest the emerging need for an alternative to their traditional housing arrangements. Prospective residents for alternative housing are likely to be elderly, widowed Sikh males. For them, the Abbeyfield option due to its domestic scale and adaptability, has been viewed as a viable solution.

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