Appleby senior Bernie Custis fights ageism


Appleby Place Retirement Resident Bernie Custis is used to discrimination.

When the National Football League refused to hire him because of the colour of his skin in 1951, he moved to Canada and signed-up with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. He then became the first black quarterback in North American.

Now, Bernie fights another prejudice – ageism.

In Canada, ageism is the most widely tolerated form of social discrimination and surprisingly doesn’t just affect seniors. According to research from Revera, 73 per cent of Canadians born 1972 – 1992 called Gen Y and 63 per cent seniors 66 years of age and older, say they have been treated unfairly because of their age. Furthermore, 35 per cent of Gen Y and 24 per cent of seniors say they have been victims of stereotyping.

“Far too often people are judged,” says 83 year-old Bernie who appears in The Revera and Reel Youth Age Is More Film Project.

The program brings two generations together to build understanding through short films that profile the lives of 25 seniors from Burlington Appleby Place Retirement Residence and Whitecliff Retirement Residence in White Rock, BC.

The profiles including Bernie Custis, Alice Rowe, Audrey Huff, Bernie Custis, Derek Edwards, George and Mamie Gibson, Mickey Radmore, Peter and Cecile Mielzynski, Roy and Norma Clark, Vera Birett, Walter Jamieson from Appleby Place Retirement Residence can be viewed at AgeIsMore.com.

“In my life, I have been fortunate enough to break some of these social barriers, which is why I was keen to participate in making this film,” says Bernie.

The film encourages intergenerational contact and there are surprising benefits like better psychological health for both generations, according to a Boston College Study. Other benefits include learning new skills, helping to alleviate fears of aging, giving people a sense of shared purpose and reducing the likelihood of depression and isolation among older adults.

“Older and younger Canadians need to find opportunities to connect more,” says Greg Shaw, Director, International and Corporate Relations of the International Federation on Ageing. “The simple act of getting to know someone from a different generation promotes positive attitudes and behaviours, and helps address misperceptions that inadvertently set in when people don’t have enough exposure to each other.”

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