Since 1978, Diversecities has been working to make Calgary a city where everyone has an equal opportunity to find happiness and success.
Formerly known as the Calgary Chinese Community Service Association, the organization rebranded as Diversecities this past January. As Dr. Thomas Cheuk, Diversecities Co-Chair, explains, the effort was “an expression of our long-term vision: a welcoming home for immigrants, where Calgarians of differing ethnic origins are meaningfully engaged in the community.”
Diversecities models its approach in assisting new immigrants after the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals framework, with a particular focus on “good health and well-being,” “decent work and economic growth,” “reducing inequalities” and “sustainable communities and cities.”
Looking to improve “social mobility” to Calgary residents of all backgrounds, it explores the economic conditions of new immigrants in their homes, day-to-day lives, and social situations.
“When talking about social mobility,” says Diversecities board member Colin Chong, “we’re talking about everyone having everything they need to live a fulfilling life.”
To help manage and best assist each individual case, Diversecities focuses on three age demographics:
Providing services for Calgary’s youth helps people of all ages, not just those directly involved. Diversecities has been running after-school programs for kids who can’t get immediate care or need help developing a larger social circle. The program, which is free of charge, goes beyond supervision by facilitating activities and social interactions to help children grow as individuals. The organization works with various schools to provide this program, which is an important service for parents who work multiple jobs and can’t be at the school early enough to pick up their child.
Diversecities also runs summer camps that bring youth together and offer parents a place where their child receives care and life skill development. This service was provided virtually through the pandemic, with plans to bring back in-person summer camps in the near future.
For the working age demographic, Diversecities focuses on those who are deemed more marginalized, which can include different ethnic groups and lower-income individuals.
To help those in precarious financial situations, Diversecities offers tax clinics and financial workshops to foster better money management practices. There are also legal connections and additional workshops for immigrants to make sure they are not taken advantage of in the workplace.
Diversecities partners with various communities and groups across the city to offer these services. With its roots initially planted in the Chinese community, Diversecities also acts as a bridge between various cultural and community groups to shine a light on their proud histories in a respectful and educational way.
Seniors are often the most overlooked age group when it comes to social and economic aid. But Diversecities refuses to allow our community elders to slip through the cracks. Instead, seniors are supported to not only survive but thrive.
COVID-19 shined a light on the importance of helping seniors, as many saw their quality of life decline during the pandemic. Over the past year, Diversecities helped to deliver over a metric ton of free rice to seniors to help meet their basic needs. Diversecities also works to connect various community seniors to the outside world through virtual interactions, social groups and classes that help them rebuild relationships with family and friends.
The challenges of becoming a diverse city are real.
“There are still obstacles to ensuring there are good jobs, good living conditions, and equal access to all these so we can have a fair and just society,” Chong explains.
As we come out of a historic pandemic and reconnect, there has never been a better time to get involved.
Whether you’re new to Calgary and are looking for your place in the community or want to reach out and welcome someone to this wonderful city, Diversecities can and will be your guide.
Be engaged, be helpful, be welcoming, be social, be mobile and be diverse. Learn more at diversecities.org.
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