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January News 2023

Updated: Jan 17, 2023


It’s a new year filled with fresh new opportunities to connect and engage, and The Building Capacity Project is no exception. Following a cozy holiday season, we’re recharged, inspired, and refreshed: ready to roll up our sleeves and shake hands with all the great people doing important work in our communities to support people with dementia and those close to them.

Read on to learn more about what’s happening on the ground.




Kitsilano Community Centre hosted two “community needs assessment” sessions this fall to gather insight and suggestions from their target demographic about what would be most helpful to seniors facing memory loss.

With these sessions they aimed to:

Initial registration was good. Eighteen participants signed up, and those who did attend were keen to discuss and offer ideas and imagine further what was possible.

Participants’ overwhelming desire was for an opportunity to gather and socialize. Weekly socials were suggested, possibly with a central activity of some kind, but also possibly just as a chance to chat. Tailored programs and supports specifically for those struggling with memory loss as well as supports and services for those caring for seniors with memory loss was also a request.

The group brainstormed a list of the types of activities they’d like to engage in, and came up with everything from pickleball and table tennis to card making, yoga, and brain health seminars.

The group went through all the factors that might contribute to increased participation including factors like the quality of teachers, how easy it is for participants to access transportation, physical comfort, reminder calls, and group size. They suggested ways to bridge the technological gap for those without computers or internet know-how. And they suggested creating a Kitsilano Community Centre Seniors Advisory Group to make sure the best interests of seniors in community were consistently given a voice.

The Kitsilano Community Centre is very grateful to the community for their invaluable feedback.

To read the full report, click below:


This fall, The Building Capacity Project had the great honour of being featured on Ontario’s own dementia-specific podcast series, Dementia Dialogue, hosted by Lisa Loiselle.

Academic project co-lead, Dr. Alison Phinney and BC-based artist and dementia advocate Granville Johnson were featured in a two-part series on the work they’ve done in community to combat the stigma associated with dementia.

IN PART ONE, Dr. Phinney outlines how her research and teaching work at the University of British Columbia led her to co-develop this community-based research and practice program called The Building Capacity Project alongside her Ontario-based colleague Dr. Elaine Wiersma. And Granville Johnson speaks about how he got into advocacy work in the first place, and why it felt so imperative to him.

PART TWO delves more deeply into the fear that holds society back from being dementia friendly. We learn about how The Flipping Stigma online toolkit came to be, why it’s so important that we access the kinds of insights and learnings it offers on stigma and the experience of people with dementia, and we as listeners are given an opportunity to think through how to respond to damaging gestures or comments in a way that doesn’t let the speaker off the hook, and helps inform the wider public on how and why comments like those are so dangerous.

CLICK ON the image to visit the

Flipping Stigma Toolkit


Listen to the full two-part podcast interviews, here:

Stay tuned in 2023 for more from The Building Capacity Project on Dementia Dialogue.

We’re back in the recording studio and coming at you again this spring!



Lakehead University's CERAH Speaker Series Features Dr. Wiersma

Coming up this month as part of The Centre for Education and Research on Aging and Health’s exciting speaker series, join Dr. Elaine Wiersma, Associate Professor in the Department of Health Sciences (and Associate Director of CERAH), for an exciting presentation called “I am Still the Queen—The Experiences of Women Living with Dementia.”

Dr. Wiersma highlights her research on the perspectives of women living with dementia, and how gender has shaped their experience. Dr. Wiersma is an eloquent speaker and brilliant thought leader who you won’t want to miss. Her body of research is consistently person-centred and focused on empowering people to live their best life with dignity, equity, and inspiration.

Click below to Register for the Event.



Lakehead University’s Famous Talk Show Features Dr. Wiersma and Bill Heibein from the North West Dementia Working Group

Dr. Elaine Wiersma and her North West Dementia Working Group advocacy colleague Bill Heibein were recently featured on Lakehead University’s talk show “Research Matters” with host Dr. Andrew Dean.

Both Elaine and Bill spoke about the nature of dementia, what brought them to this work, and why it is so important that people like them continue to push for change in the field. “A lot of what is out there for people with dementia is brought forth with good intentions by people who think this is what we need,” said Heibein, who was diagnosed back in the year 2000. But for us to be able to put into context what we think we need and how we think it should be applied to us, that’s very, very important.” He quoted the slogan originally coined by the disabilities community, “nothing about us without us,” and talked about that equity and mutual respect piece as being the cornerstone of everything.




The Thunder Bay team rang in the new year in style, gathered altogether at Thunder Bay’s Urban Abbey for a special New Year’s Eve party to remember complete with an enthusiastic countdown to midnight.

The uniquely tight-knit relationships in this town are a huge part of what makes the community so special.


Learn More about the Building Capacity Project

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