May 24, 2016 6:19 pm
Updated: May 24, 2016 6:33 pm

Southern Alberta Ethnic Association hopes new location will benefit from increased visibility

WATCH ABOVE: The old Fire Hall No. 1 is now the new home of the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association and the organization believes it will benefit from its more visible location. Kimberly Tams reports.


The old Fire Hall No. 1 is now the new home of the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association (SAEA).

For decades, the organization has aimed to highlight the different cultures, languages, religions, and food that exists across southern Alberta.

The SAEA had been located inside the Bill Kergen Centre since 1977.

“I think that was our biggest problem – that people did not know what the Southern Alberta Ethnic Association was – and in fact, we did not have a sign outside,” Surya Acharya, the president of the SAEA, said.

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The new building is extremely visible and located in a high-traffic area

“Now that people can see our name on a building, it gives us a much higher profile,” Tara Gillanders, the program director for the SAEA, explained.

The nearly $5-million dollar project will be home to over 30 different ethnic associations in Lethbridge.

“For the smaller groups, there was no place for them to go,” Acharya said. “This gives them the facility and they can do their own cultural programs.”

Several new immigrant and refugee groups now call the city of Lethbridge home and people from countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, the Philippines and dozens more are now represented at the association.

“We organize multiple multicultural events throughout the year,” Gillander said. “Every month we have a culture night dinner.”

Acharya says this new facility serves as an example for the rest of the country and bridges the gap among different and diverse communities.

“Unless people are exposed to different groups, they do not feel very comfortable,” Acharya said.

A grand opening will take place on Saturday, May 28.


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