The Edmonton Multicultural Coalition Association (EMCA) was formed in 2007 by Dr. Lucenia Ortiz as a ‘sister’ organization to the Multicultural Health Brokers to take on advocacy activities on behalf of immigrants and refugees. Over time, it has evolved to focus on building the capacity of individuals and organizations from ethno-cultural communities. In July 2018, EMC members adopted a new mission statement that shifts EMC to taking an intercultural approach in its work.
This intercultural approach focuses on building relationships between ethno-cultural communities, Indigenous peoples/organizations and the mainstream culture, which can lead to mutual and reciprocal transformation. As the Coalition is a small organization with limited resources, most of our work is done through collaboration, as we combine a community and systems approach.
The Coalition connects with other immigrant and refugee communities, learns about initiatives, successes and barriers in other communities, and has opportunities to engage with policy-makers, funders or mainstream agencies and organizations. It is a safe, inclusive, culturally relevant space that fosters openness, sharing, honesty, collaboration and personal leadership.
Our leadership development training addresses the need to strengthen the indigenous capacities of leaders from ethnocultural leaders and to create opportunities where these leadership skills could be practiced within their organizations, in their communities and neighborhoods and in the larger society. Beyond capacity building, leadership development deepens their awareness of community issues and finds solutions to these within their cultural context and builds creative and respectful collaborations with organizations and agencies serving their communities.
Councilor Keren Tang, MLA Sharif Haji, and community developers like Kemoh Mansaray were part of the Coalition at various Leadership positions.
Community Animation opens the door for relationship building between one’s ethnocultural community and external stakeholders, including the City of Edmonton, the provincial and federal governments, and voluntary sector organizations. The training offered by the Coalition supports new and ongoing animators to develop their informal leadership in the community, to become objective and socially conscious effective motivators throughout the changing dynamics in the community, to be facilitators and to develop their ability to share information, ideas, with and to inspire other leaders in the community.
Community-based research is a vehicle for educating community members and the broader communities on the realities faced by immigrants and refugees. It is an opportunity for community members to come together and become trained community researchers, to practice developing and articulating their ideas to each other in the community and, ultimately, to prepare to articulate their ideas to policymakers and funders.
Collaborative, Group & One-on-one Support is provided at monthly meetings where community members help each other, including access to space, sharing of ideas, connections with key contact people, event & program coordination and unique resource people found in each community. One-on-one support is also available from the coordinator.
EMC contributes to strengthening the richness of a multicultural society and making active citizenship a daily reality. For more information, visit: www.emcoalition.ca.
Impact of the Program on the Community:
The Coalition serves as a shared democratic space for members of ethnocultural communities, whether newly arrived or more established in the city, to learn and practice intercultural learning and collaboration and to use this skill in incorporating themselves into the larger Canadian society of which they now call their new home. The Coalition is an organization that has historically engendered interactions and relationships across cultures; it has been an organization that attracted a diverse collective of informal and formal groups from Edmonton’s ethnocultural communities, particularly those who have been traditionally marginalized from resources and opportunities outside of their own communities. The Coalition has filled a gap around intercultural sharing that many isolated communities were searching for as they struggled to adjust and adapt to their new homeland. It is where democratic principles become alive and appreciated, particularly for those who, for many years, have not experienced it in their home country. Every decision and action carried out in the Coalition is a daily negotiation of differences grounded in the activities of everyday life, which, to some, may be inconsequential but lay the basis for recognizing differences, breaking barriers and fostering inclusion. This is the Coalition’s contribution to strengthening the richness of a multicultural society and making active citizenship a daily reality.
Recap on the Field: 2023 Building Youth Leaders Together Through Soccer (BYLTTS)
This summer was extra special as we were able to resume our Annual Soccer BBQ that we held from 2017- 2019. This year, the project Building Youth Leaders Together Through Soccer (BYLLTS) was an initiative brought by the Edmonton Multicultural Coalition Association that aimed to bring positive change to the McCauley community through the universal language of soccer. The main objectives of the project were to promote physical activity, instill valuable life skills and create a platform for social interaction. Our goal through this program was to build a program, an environment that celebrates diversity, promotes equitable access, and inclusivity and builds the leadership capacity of Ethnocultural and McCauley Neighborhood youth through soccer. This project has been made possible by the Government of Canada through the Community Sport for All Initiative and City of Edmonton Neighborhood Revitalization.
Sports is an incredibly valuable method to teach children and youth various life skills, from cooperation, dedication, listening, empathy, and many more. Soccer in particular is a sport that is commonly played in Canada, and a valuable way to build bridges for the youth participants from various cultural
backgrounds. The project ran for 12 weeks from mid-May to August, with practice sessions conducted every Saturday for 2 hours each. Forty-two youths registered and thirty-five attended the program and were trained by Amandla Ngwenya, a member of the Coalition and Thuba Ngwenya for 2 hours, and 30 minutes including mentorship from an experienced motivational speaker, Dominic Sithole who taught various topics such as Discipline and Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Communication, Leadership, and dangers of bullying.
All the participants received a goody bag containing a soccer ball, movie tickets, snacks and a water bottle. We received a total donation of $4951 from Wholesale Club, Sportcheck, Superstore, Toyota on the Trail, Alif Halal Meat, Lucky 97, Bollywood Cuisine, Donair and Poutine, Invictus House, Save On Foods, Zocalo, Noi Restaurant, Khazana Restaurant, City of Edmonton passes, Cineplex, Landmark Cinema, Safeway, New Indian Sweets and Restaurants and Holiday Inn. These were given away as gifts to the attendees by organizing a Lucky dip.
Saturday, August 19, EMCA hosted a free BBQ and community family-friendly event on the soccer field right outside the Edmonton Intercultural Center, to bring together families and friends from ethnocultural communities and the McCauley neighbourhood for an intercultural celebration of sports, culture and friendship. Two hundred and fifty people attended this free family-friendly fun program. MLA Janis Irwin was one of the highlights and she interacted with the participants and motivated them in her unique way. Another highlight was Edmonton Police Services playing a friendly soccer match with the young participants. Later they brought in the Police vehicles on the playground so that participants could climb into the Police car to experience it. One youth learnt how to handcuff and later handcuffed a Police officer. It was fun and all the officers in uniform were extremely supportive of the initiative. Councilor Keren Tang also graced the event and shared her experience with ethnocultural communities and the importance of organizing such events.
Thank you, Giselle General, Dr, Ashraf Ali and Nancy Elbenhawy who came with their families and supported the event.
Dean and Mona Murray, our partners from Greater Edmonton Alliance volunteered to cook for all. We served BBQ chicken, Chicken burgers, Veggie patties, Hot dogs, corn, cookies, veg spring rolls, Masala chai, pop, popsicles and seasonal fruits. It was a lot of work but they along with our member Rob Aromin
and our volunteers did it with a smile on their faces. Lakota Tootosis an Indigenous dancer and ethnocultural dancers Adeeba and Adeela Raisa Kabir
enthralled the audience with their performances. We are very grateful for your support. I’m positive that the memories and lessons the youth gained will
stay with them throughout their lives.
By Mitali Banerjee