Let’s Talk: About the Value of Aging Across Cultures

“Participating in this project affirmed my sense of self as an elder by learning and appreciating the value, vibrancy and
amount of contribution to community made by elders.”

Through ICA’s Art Program, we have coordinated many senior projects over the years in collaboration with various community and cultural organizations. Far too many seniors have reported feeling “invisible” and “diminished.”
It’s clear we live in a youth-fixated culture. As Andy Rooney ruefully pointed out,
“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”

Our fast-paced and increasingly high-tech world continues to devalue old age in many ways. Almost every stereotype we associate with being elderly is something negative: feeble, over the hill, wrinkled, grumpy, sexless, unemployable, of diminished mental ability, to name a few. In fact, according to some researchers, ageism is more pervasive and “accepted” than negative stereotypes based on gender, race or sexual orientation.

This project was a way to start de-bunking some of these misconceptions. To change the lens through which we view aging, and to challenge our stereotypical assumptions, we invited self-identifying

seniors to share their real life experiences, in all their complexities. The stories they told in the community sessions were shared openly and honestly and many are captured in this book. We also facilitated wide-reaching conversation about cross-cultural perceptions and experiences of aging. Everyone learned something about how different societies perceive, treat and value their seniors.

This project would not have been possible without the expert storytelling facilitation of Lina de Guevara and the guidance of our dedicated committee of eight community Elders. We deeply appreciate their support and friendship over this year-long project. My heartfelt thanks go to our Photographer, Quinton Gordon, and our Book Designer, Amanda Maslany, who were not only a joy to work with, but are the reason you’re holding such a beautiful book in your hands today. It was a labour of love and our way of honouring the Elders in our community.

Paulina Grainger
Project Manager,
ICA Manager of Arts & Community Engagement


“I think the topic of ageism is extremely important and especially more so since the
enormous losses of the elderly during this Covid pandemic.”


Order Your Copy Today: $35

Email Paulina Grainger:

Click on Thumbnails Below to View Some of the Many Stories from the Book


This Is Me : A Youth Art Project

Under the guidance of international award-winning painter and experienced local visual artist Chin Yuen, this ICA artistic youth project worked with a group of young people to examine the subjects of identity, race, faith and belonging using different visual approaches to expressing the self.

Through collage and painting, these young people explored who they are and created “portraits” that capture their stories.

For more information about the project, contact:
Paulina Grainger, Manager – Arts & Community Engagement at:

International award-winning Canadian painter, Chin Yuen, the Arts teacher and facilitator of this project, was born in Malaysia. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Honors from Vancouver’s Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a Master of Arts from the University of Victoria, Canada. She has travelled extensively and sees her diverse cultural exposures as an artistic an asset and finds inspiration everywhere, from pop-culture to decaying wood. Her dynamic abstract paintings are on the covers of international textbooks and the walls of residential homes, hotels, health care centres, and corporate buildings.

This project is aligned with ICA’s mandate to create a space for people of all backgrounds, regardless of colour, race, sexual orientation, religion and culture.

Many thanks to Multiculturalism BC for funding this project.

Click on the images below to read the artist statements and see photos from the project.

im:print 2019

This performative art presentation was indeed a community and team effort! We knew we wanted to create a show that celebrated diverse local talent, but also one that challenged current beliefs and questioned community barriers to meaningful inclusion. Trusting that people would be willing to share their experiences, we put a call out for stories that spoke of their inter-relationship to place and people.

The only caveat was that the stories needed to be honest and to make us feel something. We understand that work like this can be seen as provocative and create some discomfort, but without it, we know we can’t begin to imagine a social way forward. What you see in this multidisciplinary presentation are artists being courageous enough to speak their truth. This ICA project, funded by Victoria Foundation, is a partnership with Raino Dance and its Artistic Director, Monique Salez, whose creative vision was crucial in bringing the production to life. We’d also like to thank Krystal Cook and Asha Mehrabi for being an integral part of the Creative Team.

Paulina Grainger
Manager – Arts & Community Engagement, ICA

Click here to view im:print 2019 Program

I’ve Not Always Been Canadian

A Travelling Exhibition On The Evolving Canadian Identity

If you happen to ask a newcomer to Canada, “Do you feel Canadian?”, be prepared for a host of different answers, because every immigrant’s and refugee’s path to integration is different and personal.

In Phase I of the project “I’ve Not Always Been Canadian” ICA invited newcomers and established immigrants/refugees to share their stories of what it means to belong and to fully embrace a Canadian identity. Facilitated by Artistic Director and Storyteller Lina de Guevara, we heard well over 100 stories.

In Phase II of the project, photographer Quinton Gordon, worked with a select number of participants to translate these stories into portraits and short texts that give broader meaning to the idea of being Canadian. As part of Canada’s 150 year celebrations, our goal was to facilitate a deeper understanding of our community’s cultural, ethnic and religious diversity.

This Photo Exhibition is available to exhibit in venues throughout the Capital Regional District and across Canada.

Please contact Paulina Grainger, Manager – Arts & Community Engagement, for complete installation details and bookings:

Exhibition Installation: 15 Freestanding Banner Stands –  33.5 x 78.75 inches

I came to Canada alone when I was a teen, with no English. My idea of Canada was hockey, snow and maple syrup. It was not easy but the kindness of Canadians made me feel okay. If I say to you that I’m Canadian, I feel I’m lying. But my son was born here two years ago and I think that has started to change how I feel.” – Project Participant

Project Producer: Paulina Grainger, Portrait Photographer: Quinton Gordon, Storytelling Facilitator: Lina de Guevara, Project Scribe: Jaimie Sumner

This initiative was made possible by the Community Fund for Canada’s 150th, a collaboration between the Victoria Foundation, the Government of Canada, and extraordinary leaders from coast to coast.

I’ve Not Always Been Canadian

Available to purchase as a 56 page, fully illustrated, softcover book.

All proceeds go to support ICA programs.

Click Here To Preview and Order

To View Project Photo Gallery Click On Thumbnail