The Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre and Edmonton Chinatown Chinese Library. Leif Gregersen
There is a grandfather clock and art on the walls inside the Edmonton Chinatown Chinese Library. Leif Gregersen
Edmonton Chinatown Chinese Library’s Manager Lai Chu Li Kong poses with some reading materials. Leif Gregersen
A bust of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen in front of the Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre. He was a founding father and the first president of the Republic of China. Leif Gregersen
The Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre (ECMCC) is one of the many welcoming places in Boyle Street where people can gather to socialize and pursue common interests. This hive of recreational, cultural, and educational activity at 9540 – 102 Avenue serves people of all ages from all over Edmonton. The majority of the participants belong to the Chinese community, but those who use the library and/or take Chinese language classes have diverse ethnic origins. The centre is also a big drawing card for the seniors who live in the nearby Chinese Elders’ Mansion.
The list of programs at the centre is long. In addition to the weekend Chinese language school for young people and adults, the centre offers many other learning opportunities such as lectures and seminars, ESL classes for seniors, and computer training using Chinese characters. The artistically inclined can register for arts and crafts, calligraphy, Chinese instrument lessons, social dance, illusion rhythmic gymnastics, and more. Of course, the sports activities such as ping pong (table tennis), Tai Chi, and other martial arts are very popular. The first thing you see when entering the building is a large display case filled with tournament trophies.
ECMCC Chair Raymond Ng says the centre is always asking its many committed volunteers for help. Currently, the focus is on the Lunar New Year Extravaganza to be held at the Mayfield Toyota Ice Palace at West Edmonton Mall on February 3-4, 2018. This annual event featuring entertainment and sales and marketing booths offers much for both Chinese and non-Chinese Edmontonians.
Another current activity, Raymond says, is fundraising to renovate the building. Built in 1985 through the efforts of the Edmonton Chinese Benevolent Association, the centre needs attention. The highest priorities are the roof and electrical systems, but various other structural components could also use some upgrading. It goes without saying that such projects require a great deal of money.
The centre is always well represented each year at the Heritage Day Festival at Hawrelak Park and at K-Days at Northlands.
The ECMCC website states that the Centre’s objectives are to preserve, promote, and share all aspects of Chinese culture and heritage with Canadians, and to encourage the enthusiastic participation of Edmontonians and community members. Clearly, this thriving facility is achieving its goals.
Anita Jenkins is a retired writer and editor who moved to Boyle Street four years ago and loves her new community.
The list of programs at the centre is long. In addition to the weekend Chinese language school for young people and adults, the centre offers many other learning opportunities such as lectures and seminars, ESL classes for seniors, and computer training using Chinese characters.
The large Chinese Library, opened in 2009, is a very special feature of the Edmonton Chinatown Multi-Cultural Centre. Through grants and extensive fundraising, the Edmonton Chinatown Library Foundation runs the library and covers the librarian’s salary and the purchase of some materials. However, much of what happens in this place is the result of hard work by volunteers and generous donations. Many of the books, videos, and digital resources are gifts from Chinese-speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, to create awareness of the Chinese culture in the community.
Manager Lai Chu Kong, a retired university science researcher, spends many volunteer hours ensuring that the library will grow and continue to operate effectively. Lai Chu is a big believer in the motto posted prominently in the library: “Reading enriches the mind, culture enriches the soul.”
Lai Chu is excited about an oral history project the library is conducting with the support of an Edmonton Heritage Council grant. Volunteers are recording the stories of elderly, longtime members of the Edmonton Chinese community, which is now more than 100 years old.