If founding an ethnocultural-specific senior home is a reflection of an immigrant community’s coming of age, Vietnamese Canadians have just reached a milestone.

The 100,000-strong community in the GTA envisions, along a tree-lined side road in Vaughan, a not-for-profit elderly care facility with three wings that can meet the linguistic, cultural and dietary needs of Vietnamese-speaking seniors.

The recent purchase of a 5.6-acre, $2.8-million property on Pine Valley Dr. is a major step toward realizing that dream. It’s hoped the 200-bed Golden Age Village for the Elderly can be erected there in five years, to serve the generation that arrived here largely in the late 1970s-80s “boat people” migration, after the Communist takeover of South Vietnam.

“Most of these seniors in their 60s and 70s do not speak English. Their second language is French,” said Kien Le, vice chair of the board, whose family came to Canada as refugees in July 1975 via the Philippines.

“They don’t have much option. The food at other nursing homes is not to their taste palate. They feel cut off and depressed. It’s not good for their mental wellbeing. That affects their physical health. That’s the main reason for us to start this project.”

Dubbed Tuoi Hac in Vietnamese, meaning “long-lived like a crane,” the project was launched in 2012 by a group of volunteers who had become increasingly aware of the growing needs of the aging community in the GTA. Currently, volunteers run recreational programs such as Tai Chi classes in an existing office building.

“Our elderly sacrificed their lives to give their children, grandchildren, freedom and a better life in Canada. They worked in factories to send us to school and had no time to learn English,” said Thanh Nha Nguyen, a member of the board working on the $40 million project.

“I have volunteered to visit Vietnamese seniors in other (mainstream) nursing homes. They feel so isolated and depressed. It feels so sad. Now is our turn to take care of them,” added Nguyen, an investment banker who came here with her family in 1983.

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