• YWCA connecting seniors - Knowledge Keepers - Crabtree Corner

Seniors Connect at YWCA Crabtree Corner


YWCA Crabtree Corner is a hub of activity in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, offering programs for families in times of need. While many services are geared toward single mothers and their children, the YWCA responds to the changing needs in our communities and fill in gaps in services whenever possible.

A staff member recognized that many senior women were accessing Crabtree’s weekday hot lunch, one of the few women-only hot lunch programs in the neighbourhood. Many of these senior women face multiple barriers including poverty, inadequate housing, poor health and language barriers, while others might be raising their grandchildren whose parents have fallen victim to the opioid crisis

To address the needs of these seniors we launched the Knowledge Keepers program, where people from different cultural groups come together to build community and develop new connections across generations and cultures. One group brought together Asian seniors with single moms. Child minding was provided while adults gathered for activities. The introductory ice breaker session was held at a Chinese restaurant and participants discussed the significance and meanings of different ingredients for various celebrations. 

We also had a chair yoga session to introduce gentle ways to stay nimble and active. In another session, children also attended and participants learned the traditions of dumpling wrapping and how different regions have their own special way of wrapping. It was a hands-on session and the group enjoyed a hot meal of soup and dumplings prepared by our Asian volunteer cooks. To end the program, we invited a guest speaker to present an exchange of Indigenous history and culture.

Similar programs were developed for an Indigenous group and a Mixed Heritage group. May Kwan, Supervisor of Crabtree Corner Community Programs shared, “Knowledge Keepers showed that when we provide opportunities to bring people from different backgrounds and ages together, we can help to reduce isolation, connect with the community and build new skills. Participants shared that they felt more included in the community after taking part in the program.”

We look forward to witnessing these new relationships flourish in the years to come. 

Knowledge Keepers was made possible by the New Horizons for Seniors Program through Employment and Social Development Canada.

To donate to Crabtree Corner, contact Natasha Krotez at 604 895 5823 | nkrotez@ywcavan.org

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