By Pam Burns, CNPEA Board member

I was fortunate to attend the 19th Annual Diverse Voices Conference in Edmonton on November 13- 15, in 2 roles (volunteer and delegate), wearing 3 hats: Alberta Elder Abuse Awareness Council (AEAAC) Vice-Chairperson, Canadian Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse (CNPEA) Board Member, and St. Aidan’s Society Staff Member. Collaboration between the Diverse Voices Planning Committee and the AEAAC resulted in the first-ever Elder Abuse Pre-Conference. Diverse Voices is the largest Domestic Violence Conference in Western Canada, hosting approximately 630 delegates, and having elder abuse included was truly a leap forward for elder abuse awareness.

paul greenwood diversevoices 2019While he was not a stranger to me, as I have heard him speak before, I was able to take in the energetic and animated presentation by Paul Greenwood, one of the Keynote speakers, a retired lawyer that has prosecuted hundreds of elder abuse cases in the United States. His lessons learned dispelled many myths about the importance of charging and convicting elder abuse cases and highlighted the importance of elder abuse awareness. Does negative behaviour change, if a person gets away with it? Not typically, which is why we can’t let abusers get away with it. At the end of his presentation, Paul included several Alberta and Canadian resources, including the AEAAC. It is my plan to reach out to him to also share the CNPEA Hub so that he can share this in his travels.

Through the use of our St. Aidan’s Society Age Simulation Kit, I had great discussions with many delegates aeaactable diversevoices2019of various backgrounds and ages. One person told me that she envisioned a large machine similar to the security scanner at the airport that you would step into and it would age you!  Almost as amazing, our simulation kit allowed people to experience several aspects of aging, including arthritis and the challenges that it brings to people while they are going about their day. In the midst of the physical struggle, I would ask people how they were feeling and frustration and anxiety were commonly used descriptors. The goal was to create empathy for aging and throughout the 3 days I heard, “Now I  know how my parents/grandparents feel.” Mission accomplished.

There were so many great presenters from a variety of professional backgrounds speaking on many domestic violence topics. With the volume of learning that happened over those three days, I can say with certainty that elder abuse awareness was increased in Alberta and Canada.  

Visit for all topics and speakers and mark your calendars for the next one in November 2020. 

Contact Pam at St Aidan's Societypan burns oct2019
Pam Burns, BSW, RSW
Seniors Advocate/Seniors Outreach Supervisor


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