Meet Louisa Thorne: at age 88, Glebe Collegiate alumna is combatting ageism

By Jane Brennan

Louisa Thorne was born and raised in Ottawa and attended Glebe Collegiate. Now, her life story, along with those of several other older adults, has been captured in a unique film project.

Louisa Thorne, 88-year-old Glebe Collegiate alumna, and young Ottawa filmmaker Aniek Le Moine band together to challenge stereotypes about aging. PHOTO: REEL YOUTH

Louisa Thorne, 88-year-old Glebe Collegiate alumna, and young Ottawa filmmaker Aniek Le Moine band together to challenge stereotypes about aging. PHOTO: REEL YOUTH

Louisa is one of 10 residents from the Colonel By retirement community being celebrated through the Revera and Reel Youth “Age is More” film project. This initiative of Revera (a Canadian provider of seniors’ accommodation and services) aims to challenge stereotypes about aging and promote an age-inclusive society. In their efforts to break down age barriers and foster intergenerational friendships, Revera partnered with Reel Youth, a not-for-profit organization that works with youth to make films about important social issues. The group has created a series of short documentary films that explore the lives of seniors in a few Canadian cities. Residents of Colonel By Retirement Residence, located south of the Glebe community across the canal, are the stars of the latest films, which were produced and directed by youth from the area.

Louisa said she easily found mutual interests with the youth. Growing up, she attended school in the Glebe community, where she participated in activities such as volleyball and basketball. In the film, she talks about her thoughts on love, her family and her experience periodically living in Quebec while her husband worked at a pulp and paper mill before she returned to our local community as a nurse at the Ottawa Hospital.

Other residents featured include Polly McKeen, who was also born in Ottawa and studied at Ottawa Ladies’ College (now condominium apartments on First Avenue) and the Ottawa School of Art; as well as Nadine Heins, a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and a volunteer for over 35 years at the Museum of Civilization. Each of the documentaries is a wonderful story on its own, but when the films are viewed together, it’s clear that the young filmmakers were inspired by the seniors’ stories of lives lived fully and well.
According to Revera, age discrimination towards both youth and older people is Canada’s most widely tolerated form of social discrimination. And because many youth do not have the opportunity to interact with older adults and vice versa, it’s likely that the two groups even hold stereotypes about each other!

Through this project, the youth and seniors both were able to get a glimpse of the world through a different lens. You might even say that some stereotypes were broken. To watch the films, visit the Revera and Reel Youth “Age is More” film project at www.ageismore.com

Jane Brenner is the executive director of the Colonel By Retirement Community, which neighbours the Glebe.

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