Co-founded in 1992 by Leila Daljit and Ronica Jaipershad, the Indo Caribbean Golden Age Association (ICGAA) is a community based organization that is dedicated to improving the quality of life, well being and independence of its members, who are seniors, through programs, participation and education. The ICGAA serves to meet the leisure, physical and intellectual needs of its members while equipping them to become active contributors and participants in Canadian society.
Specifically the purpose of the ICGAA is to provide opportunities to seniors of Indo Caribbean background to celebrate the heritage of their country of origin while encouraging their awareness, understanding, inclusion and participation in their local Canadian communities and customs. The ICGAA promotes the growth, development and aging in place of seniors by providing information, publications and seminars on topics of interest to seniors relating to health and health care, senior housing and assisted living, travel and transportation; promoting participation in community, cultural and religious activities; facilitating networking opportunities for the seniors; encouraging physical, social and creative wellness through participation in Association activities; fostering the personal skill and creativity through recreational, artistic, cultural and entertainment activities; providing the forum for meaningful dialogue within the membership and with other like-minded senior organizations in Canada and by raising funds to promote the objectives of the Association.
In alignment with the organization’s mission six annually recurring indoor events, one summer outdoor event and one international trip are held every year. Three of these events showcase the cultural diversity and religious observances of this interfaith group of Indo-Caribbean members.
They are celebrations of Holi, a Hindu festival which marks the arrival of spring;
Eid al-Fitr which is an important Islamic holiday for the Muslim community in Canada and Diwali – known as “the festival of lights,” which is important to the Hindu religion because it signifies the victory of good over evil and light over dark.
In addition there are three secular holidays which are also celebrated by the membership which are 4) Valentine’s Day, 5) Mother’s Day and 6) Father’s Day.
At these events members are encouraged to engage their artistic and creative outlets. Through poetry and short plays the members convey the cultural customs involved in the celebration of these holidays. Additionally members share their musical talents through culturally specific language and through musical instruments unique to their culture of origin.
An outdoor picnic is held every summer with ICGAA members and other seniors’ groups and organizations. This promotes inter-organizational camaraderie and facilitates the opportunity for members to broaden their social networks. Lastly, as part of core programming one international travel trip is organized for the ICGAA seniors to travel with companionship and camaraderie to explore and enjoy international vacation destinations.
This core programming provides a balance of activities that preserve the diverse cultural heritage of the membership, embrace their religious celebrations while weaving their diversity into the fabric to their Canadian home, community and country.
The ICGAA also provides responsive programming to the needs, demands and interests of the members as they arise. Some examples of the Association’s responsive programming include games days, heart and stroke awareness, bereavement/grief counseling, volunteering, health education, dance, music, youth strategies and intergenerational planning. The Association’s members have also taken an active involvement in some community events including the Caribbean Health Fair and the annual Guyana Festival.
As its Silver Jubilee anniversary 2017 was of course a marquee year for the Association with all of its scheduled events having been hosted successfully. The March 4, 10th Annual Holi and Chowtal Festival was just one of the many ultra successful events 2017 hosted by the ICGAA. The festival featured participation by nine chowtal groups and several additional performers. Several countries and a wide cross section of Canada’s ethno-cultural communities were represented at the Festival, which has grown exponentially since its humble beginnings in 2007. The Festival’s Organizers were extremely pleased by the outstanding participation by children, as passing the cultural heritage from one generation to the next has always been one of the Association’s primary objectives.
As successful as it was, the Annual Holi Festival was rendered back seat status by the Association’s hosting of its marquee 2017 event, its May 7 Silver Jubilee Anniversary celebration. Held at Scarborough’s St Peter & Paul Banquet Hall, the Silver Jubilee attracted a sold out crowd of 450.
Commencing with goose bump renditions of the Canadian national anthem and Heal The World, by a Jennifer Sohan led children’s choir, the evening’s programme reflected on the ICGAA’s 25-year legacy, which has now been handed down to the next generation. All of the organization’s accomplishments were featured in a video, which showcased many of its hosted events, including the York University visit by Guyana’s former President, the late Cheddi Jagan.
Sadly during 2017, the Association also bade farewell to its former initial Vice President and subsequent President, Oodit Narain who, surrounded by his family, passed peacefully on October 23. During his six-year term as President, Oodit Narain had been instrumental in establishing the Association’s operational guidelines. He’d earned the respect and admiration of all members as a fun-loving individual, who was young at heart, energetic and highly motivated.
On a much happier note, in addition to its Valentine’s Day celebration, which was hosted on Sunday, February 11 at the Agincourt Recreation Centre, the Association will also host five more events this year. These are as follows; Phagwah (Holi) – March 4, Mother’s Day – May 6, Father’s Day – June 10, Diwali – November 11 and finally its December 9 Christmas Social.
The ICGAA’s 2018 events and activities will be governed by its 12 member Board of Directors. Leila Daljit, the Association’s Co Founder will continue as Chair. She will be ably assisted by the following Executive Members: Dilip Chetram, Vice Chair; Karam Daljit, Advisor; Karna Persuad, President, Gopee Singh, Vice President, Marilyn Sukhnandan, Secretarry, Barb Nandlall, Tresurer and Asst. Secretary Treasurer. Tulsi Persaud, Indra Masihlall, Shaw Jaundoo and Patrick George will also all serve on the Board as Directors.
Photo Caption: ICGAA’s March 5 Holi Celebration Execs:
Front Row, Sitting L-R: Soorajanie Jaundoo (blue top ) Barb Nandlall Marilyn Sukhnandan Indra Masihlall
Back Row, Standing L-R: Tulsi Persaud (Brown Jacket) Karna Persaud Shaw Jaundoo Leila Daljit Patrick George.