Campaign takes aim at senior abuse

For about the last year, Debbie Janzen has been speaking in the territory's community centres, boardrooms, public libraries and church basements about the kind treatment others struggle to put into words.

For about the last year, Debbie Janzen has been speaking in the territory’s community centres, boardrooms, public libraries and church basements about the kind treatment others struggle to put into words.

Janzen is the Yukon coordinator for a national push to draw attention to abuse and neglect faced by Canadian seniors.

Dubbed “It’s not Right: Neighbours, Friends and Families for Older Adults,” the campaign tries to give community members the skills to recognize when the older people in their lives may be suffering and the ability to offer a supportive presence.

“This whole campaign is about creating awareness. How did we get to this place where older adults aren’t valued?”

Janzen is giving a presentation Wednesday as part of the 12 Days to End Violence Against Women Campaign, which started this week.

There are common themes between women facing domestic violence and vulnerable seniors, she said.

In both cases community members will often spot that something is wrong, but be unable to pinpoint exactly what it is, and not know what to do, she said.

Very little research has been done of the prevalence of seniors abuse or neglect across the country.

According to the Government of Canada, one in five Canadians believes they know of a senior who might be experiencing some form of abuse.

When it comes to seniors, it might not be the kind of physical attack that immediately comes to mind, Janzen said.

It could be financial abuse from someone handling their money, or emotional abuse if, for example, a relative caregiver is threatening to withhold visits from the grandchildren if they don’t get their way.

Older women face a unique set of circumstances, Janzen said.

Women in their 60s and 70s likely spent much of their lives caring for families and out of the workforce, she said.

That means they are more likely to have limited finances now with limited pension money.

Women also tend to live longer than men and are more likely to be responsible for caring for someone else along with themselves.

Janzen said society has contributed to putting seniors in situations where they are vulnerable and without support.

“We’ve put them in extended care facilities or seniors apartment buildings where they’re not necessarily part of our community,” she said. “We have contributed to pushing older adults into these vulnerable places.”

Things can get even more complicated if you are related to the people doing the neglecting, Janzen said.

“You’re looking at situations where there could be children abusing a mother, and all the complexities that come with that,” she said. “Not wanting to hurt your own children by getting involved in the criminal justice system.”

Wednesday’s event is taking place at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre at 1 p.m.

For about an hour, the group will discuss the underlying reasons that lead to abuse, and strategies for how to approach someone who might be in trouble.

The advice Janzen gives is similar to what you would hear at a seminar on domestic abuse: don’t be afraid to reach out, don’t judge the person or try to fix things right away. Instead, keep the door open so that when the person wants help they can come to you.

“Through this campaign we’re not asking people to fix anything,” Janzen said.

“These are, in most cases, adults who are very capable of making decisions for themselves and they just need people to support them.”

The 12 Days to End Violence Against Women campaign runs until Dec. 6. Other events include a sweat lodge for missing and murdered indigenous women and a ceremony marking the national day of remembrance on Dec. 4. A full calendar of events is available online at

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A proposed Official Community Plan amendment would designate a 56.3-hectare piece of land in Whistle Bend currently designated as green space, as urban residential use. Whitehorse city council will vote on the second reading of the Official Community Plan amendment on Dec. 7. (Courtesy City of Whitehorse)
Future area of Whistle Bend considered by council

Members set to vote on second reading for OCP change

The City of Whitehorse’s projected deficit could be $100,000 more than originally predicted earlier this year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City deficit could be just over $640,000 this year

Third quarter financial reports presented to council

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speaks during a COVID-19 press conference in Whitehorse on Oct. 30. Masks became mandatory in the Yukon for anyone five years old and older as of Dec. 1 while in public spaces. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
As mask law comes into effect, premier says $500 fines will be last resort

The territory currently has 17 active cases of COVID-19

Crystal Schick/Yukon News file
Ranj Pillai, minister of economic development, during a press conference on April 1.
Government rejects ATAC mining road proposal north of Keno City

Concerns from the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyäk Dun were cited as the main reason for the decision


Wyatt’s World for Dec. 2, 2020

The new Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation council elected Dec. 1. (Submitted)
Little Salmon Carmacks elects new chief, council

Nicole Tom elected chief of Little Salmon Carcmacks First Nation

Submitted/Yukon News file
Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to the unsolved homicide of Allan Donald Waugh, 69, who was found deceased in his house on May 30, 2014.
Yukon RCMP investigating unsolved Allan Waugh homicide

Yukon RCMP’s Historical Case Unit is seeking information related to an unsolved… Continue reading

A jogger runs along Millenium Trail as the sun rises over the trees around 11 a.m. in Whitehorse on Dec. 12, 2018. The City of Whitehorse could soon have a new trail plan in place to serve as a guide in managing the more than 233 kilometres of trails the city manages. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
2020 trail plan comes forward

Policies and bylaws would look at e-mobility devices

Snow-making machines are pushed and pulled uphill at Mount Sima in 2015. The ski hill will be converting snow-making to electric power with more than $5 million in funding from the territorial and federal governments. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Mount Sima funded to cut diesel reliance

Mount Sima ski hill is converting its snowmaking to electric power with… Continue reading

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read