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Aging Well: Partnering to optimize social network and support for older immigrants in Ontario

About the project

About the project (aging well)

The Aging Well project seeks to improve our current understanding of older immigrants' social needs, networks and support, and how these shape their capacity, resilience, and independence in aging well in Ontario. Our project builds on existing literature and our own work, and will address gaps in knowledge, policy, and practice. To accomplish our goal, we are leveraging the research team's existing collaborations and building new partnerships among academics and community agencies serving older immigrant adults across Ontario.

This project is guided by an intersectionality perspective and ecological model which provides a foundation for exploring the complexity of social identities (e.g., gender, immigration) and their interrelationship with individuals, families, communities, and society as a whole.


The Aging Well project is guided by a collaborative, community-based, mixed-methods approach to engage stakeholders (for example, older immigrants, their families, and providers of social, settlement, legal, housing, and transportation services) located at four sites across Ontario (Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo, and London). The four sites were strategically chosen because of they offer a diverse range of levels of urbanization, community sizes, and immigrants and immigrant-serving organizations. All of these factors shape older immigrants' access to, and use of, social networks and supports.

The project will consist of three phases:

  • Phase 1 will focus on strengthening academic-community partnerships through stakeholder meetings at each site.

  • Phase 2 will explore older immigrants' preferred, and actual, informal and formal networks, model of delivery (for example, the use of technology), and frequency of support used/preferred/accessed, and perceptions of mutual exchange and conflict within such networks.

  • Phase 3 will identify and improve our understanding of the gaps between older immigrants' needs and available services and compare how equitable services are in different communities.​

Older adults sitting around table.jpg
Research team (aging well)

Research team

Project Lead

Sepali Guruge (PI) is a Professor and the Research Chair in Urban Health of the Daphne Cockwell School of Nursing at Ryerson University. She is known in Canada and internationally for her work in the area of family violence throughout the migration trajectory, and was chosen (in 2014) as part of the Royal Society of Canada’s inaugural cohort of College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. She is also Director of the Centre for Global Health and Health Equity, and Co-Lead of the Nursing Centre for Research and Education on Violence against Women and Children. This project builds on her previous work including an intervention study with 2000 immigrants from East, South, and South East Asian communities in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto.

Site Leads

Alphabetical order


Bharati Sethi, PhD

Bharati Sethi (London site Lead), Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, University of Western Ontario, is an experienced intersectionality scholar. Sethi has incorporated intersectionality framework along with sex/gender and other diversity axes in her Master of Social Work study, doctoral thesis, and postdoctoral work with the immigrant/refugee population. Sethi has engaged in community based research for the last 10 years, conducted several projects to foster newcomer and immigrant and refugee integration in both urban and rural settings, engaged with local communities as an advisory committee member in Brantford, ON. 

Project Lead

Denise L. Spitzer, PhD

Denise L. Spitzer (Ottawa site Lead) is a Professor in the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies at the University of Ottawa where she served as the Canada Research Chair in Gender, Migration and Health and a Principal Scientist in the Institute of Population Health for a decade. In addition to undergraduate studies in Biology, Chinese Language, and Music, she holds a Master’s degree and doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Alberta. Dr. Spitzer is interested in examining how global processes—intersecting with gender, age, racialization, migration status and other social identifiers—are implicated in health and wellbeing. Her current program of research focuses on the impact of the global economy on immigrants, migrants and refugees in different parts of the globe and engages with critical perspectives of the body, transnationalism and constructions of identity; the impact of policy on health; community-based research and intersectional analysis.

Project Lead

Lu Wang, PhD

Lu Wang (Toronto site Lead) is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Arts at Ryerson University. Throughout her research in the area of immigration, ethnicity, health and settlement studies, she has used GIS and spatial methods in studying immigrant settlement and transnational experiences, employed a mixed method approach combining qualitative, statistical, and spatial methods in immigrant health and healthcare research, conducted and analyzed focus groups with various immigrant communities in Toronto (e.g., South Asian and East Asian), worked with different community organizations, and supervised and trained research assistants and highly qualified personnel for primary data collection, data analysis and report writing.

Project Lead

Margaret Walton-Roberts, PhD

Margaret Walton-Roberts (Waterloo site Lead) is Professor of Geography, Associate Director of the International Migration Research Centre at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research addresses gender, immigrant settlement in mid-sized Canadian cities, and the impact of transnational networks in both source and destination locales. Her focus on gendered migration within transnational contexts includes examining the phenomena of India-Canada transnational marriages, immigrant settlement in smaller towns and cities, and skilled emigration of nurses from different regions in India. In terms of transnational networks she has published a number of articles highlighting the role of immigration and remittances in transnational community formation and maintenance including work on health philanthropy in Punjab, explorations of the role of the state and community in the nature of transnational relations between Non Resident Indians and sending communities. 


Ilene Hyman, PhD

Ilene Hyman (Co-investigator), has over 20 years of experience as a researcher, consultant and policy analyst with government, institutional and community-based health agencies. Her research focuses on and engages with newcomer, racialized and indigenous community groups to identify health and social inequities and build capacity to address structural barriers in policies and programs. Ilene is also an Adjunct Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health where she lectures on migration, ethnicity and health, and supervises graduate students.

Project Lead

Souraya Sidani, PhD

Souraya Sidani (Co-investigator) is Professor in the School of Nursing at Ryerson University and Tier I Canada Research Chair in Health Interventions Design and Evaluation. She is known internationally for her work and has written extensively on the topic including several books. She is also Co-Director of the International Institute of Theory-based Interventions. Her career demonstrates her expertise and, equally importantly, her record of supervising graduate students. Sidani has been PI of a range of multisite studies in Canada and the U.S. 

partner organizations (aging wll)

Partner Organizations


The London Cross Cultural Learning Centre (LCCLC) has been operating in London since 1968. During the first 12 years, the CCLC was part of the University of Western Ontario and services focused primarily on providing education and information to the community on global and international development issues. The CCLC was the first Global Education Centre in Canada, funded through the Public Participation Program of Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).


The Immigrant Women Services Ottawa (IWSO) is a community-based social service agency providing the highest quality of culturally appropriate services to immigrant women and their children. We create opportunities for women as they integrate and settle into a new society, rebuild their lives after violence and achieve their personal goals.Every year, over 2,000 women and their children are helped by IWSO’s dedicated and talented staff who are assisted by volunteers.


The Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre (DPNCHC) is a respected multi-service agency located in Toronto’s West End. For three decades, they have played an important role in the lives of the residents of the community, assisting them to stay healthy, develop leadership skills, make positive lifestyle choices, build relationships, and work together to improve their living conditions and prospects for the future.


The International Migration Research Centre (IMRC) is a research centre whose mandate is to serve as a focal point for debate, research, policy analysis, and proposal development related to international migration and mobility at the global, national and regional scale. The Centre continually works to establish research relationships and seminars encouraging involvement with all Laurier faculties including Arts, Social Work and SBE. 

The YMCAs of Cambridge & Kitchener Waterloo (CKW YMCA) are charitable organizations that strengthen our communities by providing opportunities for personal growth and active involvement. As a leading charity, the YMCA cares about the health and well-being of everyone in our community. For example, financial assistance is provided to people who have difficulty paying the fees. The YMCA helps people develop healthy, active lifestyles through a wide range of programming that includes licensed child care, immigrant settlement, and an award-winning Outdoor Centre. 

sites (agingwell)

Study Sites


Target populations: Spanish-speaking and Arabic-speaking immigrants.


Target populations: Spanish-speaking, Mandarin-speaking, and Arabic-speaking immigrants.


Target populations: Spanish-speaking and Arabic-speaking immigrants.



Target populations: Spanish-speaking and Mandarin-speaking immigrants.

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