1.1 The Need to Examine Literacy Supports for Seniors in the NWT

This research paper provides a snapshot of seniors needs and preferences. It presents the views of literacy providers, seniors, and senior-serving organizations in selected NWT communities. The specific objectives of the research were to:

  • better understand the literacy needs and preferences of NWT seniors; and
  • make recommendations for better and more relevant literacy supports and services for NWT seniors.

The NWT Literacy Council is dedicated to supporting the development of literacy in all official languages of the NWT. The Council believes that “everyone has a right to literacy. It believes that literacy is something that involves everyone - individuals, families, communities, business, labour and governments. Literacy is the foundation of lifelong learning and of active participation in the social, economic and political life of our communities, our territory and our country”.

The NWT Literacy Council sponsored the research. The Council recognizes that NWT seniors, like other Canadian seniors, may have significantly lower literacy skills than other segments of the adult population and they may have difficulties accessing literacy supports. The study is intended to stimulate discussions with seniors, senior serving organizations and literacy providers regarding approaches to meet seniors literacy needs in NWT communities. Lutra Associates Ltd. of Yellowknife conducted the research on behalf of the NWT Literacy Council.

The literacy needs of seniors have long been a focus of the NWT Seniors Society. In 1990, an NWT Seniors delegate attended the Learning –That’s Life Conference, a national conference on literacy and older Canadians sponsored by “One Voice”.1 The conference recommended seniors taking the lead advocacy role on seniors literacy issues.

1.2 Research Methodology and Approach

The seniors literacy research project was managed by the Executive Director of the NWT Literacy Council. The NWT Seniors Society agreed that the NWT Literacy Council should take the lead role in guiding and monitoring the research. The Executive Director of the NWT Literacy Council provided input on the research scope, approach and research instruments.

1 “One Voice” no longer exists.