For the last century, the McCauley area has been a hub for Edmonton in terms of being ethnically and culturally diverse. Just browsing through old photos from McCauley School, you can see faces becoming a lot less homogenous as the decades progress, which brings us to 2017, 106 years after McCauley School was first established. Though no longer a school, the building is still serving a similar purpose for the community: to provide a space for people of all walks of life to collaborate and thrive.
The idea to create an intercultural centre was spearheaded by Yvonne Chiu and led to the eventual establishment of the Edmonton Intercultural Centre (EIC) in 2013, which now operates the building. Currently, there are nine different tenants who occupy space within the building: Multicultural Health Brokers Cooperative, Edmonton Multicultural Coalition, Intercultural Child and Family Centre, Centre for Race and Culture, Creating Hope Society, Multicultural Family Resource Centre, Changing Together, Africa Centre, and the Chinese Cultural Promotion Society. Tenants are chosen on the basis that their visions align with that of the EIC, to create a space that encourages understanding and education among a diverse group of people.
Though the aforementioned organizations do take up a majority of the space within the building, EIC also has spaces available to rent such as a gym, meeting hall, kitchen, and board rooms, all of which are available to the community. Having tenants that create a unified vision is only half the purpose that the building serves, the other half being an obligation to the rich culture and community of McCauley. The EIC aims to engage with the community of McCauley to create a central space where people from the area can host events and create a sense of unity for community members, which is why there is space available for those who want to take the initiative.
The EIC is more than just a place for community service or a cultural centre – it’s a transformative space where people can learn to understand and engage with one another. The vision for the building is to create a place for learning, recreation, and the arts that not only augments the rich diversity in the McCauley area, but also serves the multitude of cultures, languages, and ethnicities that are present in Edmonton. The building provides essential services such as grocery runs and an intercultural daycare, but also is a place to play sports, host meetings, and engage the community. The goal for the future is to continue and develop the legacy of McCauley while also helping the influx of new Canadians adapt to the ongoing challenges they may face.
We welcome the community to join us during our Annual General Meeting on September 26, 5:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., to learn more about what the EIC does.
Sarmad Syyed is an accounting student at the University of Alberta who did a summer internship with EIC through Canada Summer Jobs. As the son of immigrants and an Edmonton resident, he is passionate about the work EIC does for the community.