The Centre for Newcomers (CFN) finally opened its brand-new location on June 20 in recognition of World Refugee Day.
According to the CFN, the centre has grown in the past six years and a new location was overdue.
The new centre is 53,000 square feet and almost double the space of the previous location. It’s also closer to transit. The new CFN has an auditorium, an all-inclusive spiritual space, a youth centre, and a storefront cafe operated by the social enterprise Ethnicity Catering. All of this makes CFN one of the largest settlement agencies in Canada.
“This beautiful building is going to be a hub for so many partners, so many newcomers to Canada and so many wonderful experiences over the next untold number of years,” said Chair of the CFN’s board, Mark Hopkins.
World Refugee Day is an international day organized annually on June 20 by the United Nations. It honours refugees from around the world. The day was first established on June 20, 2001, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
‘Safe space for everybody’
The centre’s goal is to create a place of hope for everyone coming into the centre, whether it’s Calgarians, newcomers or refugees said, the CEO & President of the Centre for Newcomers, Anila Lee Yuen.
“It’s a place that we can start to come together again as a community and not only for newcomers but also for all Calgarians to find this as our home, as a place that you can come get services, meet other social service agencies, do activities, meet newcomers and volunteer,” said Yuen.
“It’s a safe space for everybody to be able to come to feel at home and do their own programming in this space.”
According to Yuen, donations from volunteers, the community and $500,000 from the Government of Alberta contributed to the new CFN.
“I was here when the construction began in this building. I’m glad it’s already operational,” said associate minister of immigration and multiculturalism, Muhammad Yaseen.
According to Yaseen, the CFN is especially important as it helped in removing the barriers to reaching newcomers’ potential.
Recognizing newcomers’ contributions
Yaseen also said that it’s important to recognize the work being done by newcomers to build Calgary. A new recognition award program for newcomers was announced last week.
“For the first time ever in this province, we are recognizing the contributions and the work that our newcomers do in this province,” said Yaseen.
Yaseen encouraged Calgarians to nominate any newcomer who’s made a difference in Calgary, the province, or their communities.
“We would like to highlight the contributions of our newcomers so that everybody knows and is familiar with the value that is being added by our newcomers here,” said Yaseen.
According to Yuen, it’s crucial for people to understand how important an agency like CFN is for citizens from all over.
“To all refugees and to all displaced people, whether you’re classified as a refugee or not, to all people that are dealing with trauma or dealing with any kind of vulnerability that they self-proclaim, you are welcome here,” said Yuen.
“You will be included here and we will do our very best to offer you every support we possibly can. Consider this your home, consider this a place where everyone is safe.”
The centre’s new location is 125, 565 – 36 Street NE Calgary, AB.