The Heart of Multiculturalism Beats at Erin Mills Lodge

As Canadians reflect on the beauty of their home on Canada Day, a number of words and concepts spring to mind: freedom to be our true self in the pursuit of our own happiness; a collective desire to support and care for our neighbours; a beautiful and diverse tapestry of cultures combined to strengthen each other.

There is much to be proud of.  Two ladies in bright, traditional dresses flank other team members with the Columbian flag in the background.

In a message to team members across the organization, Schlegel Villages president and CEO Jamie Schlegel pointed out that over the course of the 70 years his family has been supporting seniors in Ontario communities, the Villages have grown to be a true reflection of what makes Canada great.

The celebration of diversity that the team, residents and families of Erin Mills Lodge hosted at the end of May is the perfect example. General manager Donna Dalupan says the team was simply looking for a reason to come together, and they decided upon a Multicultural Day to honour the traditions and heritage of the many nations represented in the small long-term care home in Mississauga.

After two short weeks of planning, the day was set. Team members, residents and families brought their favourite traditional foods and dressed in authentic clothing to represent their mother lands. Music from around the world rang through the home and everyone danced together.

Irene is a resident with Portuguese roots, and she was happy to highlight her heritage alongside a team member. “I felt so included because I was with Kaitlyn,” Irene says. “We have the same background and we did our table together. It was nice to learn about so many people I see every day.”

Dulce is a housekeeping team member who was proud to help represent Latin America, as Cuba and Columbia both shared a table. She’s sitting beside a fellow team member who comes from India, Ankita, as she reflects on the day.

“We feel so very happy to show our residents our culture, performing with dancing and music and food,” Dulce says in her lovely Cuban accent. Ankita agrees, and explains that every country was represented at a different table and everyone was encouraged to visit them all to have their “passports” stamped.

It was as hub of activity and the food was extravagant, says recreation director Alanah Kelly, who was born in Canada but spends plenty of time in Scotland in honour her family’s Celtic roots. She plays in a Scottish pipe band and travels there regularly for competitions, and she was happy to represent alongside a resident who was born there.  

As she reflects on the wonderful food, she mentions a Sri Lankan team member who set up a live cooking station outside to cook traditional Pani Pol crepes.  

“I don't think anyone ate for two days after,” Alanah says. “You couldn't stop eating it, like you had to try something from every table.”

Much of that food came from The Philippines, points out Judith, who was among the many Filipino team members to proudly showcase their culture and history. While reflecting on that special day, the gathered team members agree that it’s important to capitalize on any opportunity to grow closer by learning more about each other.

The same can be said beyond the walls of Erin Mills Lodge when we consider Canada as a whole; the entire nation becomes stronger when we draw upon our vast collective strength, and that is also the heart of the Schlegel Villages philosophy.

One of the organization’s core aspirations is to honour diversity in Village life, and the small but mighty team at Erin Mills Lodge showcases that aspiration in spectacular fashion.