Friday, October 10, 2008

Godbout pledges support for multicultural centre

(Waridaad)-By Fred SherwinOrléans Online

Ottawa-Orléans Liberal candidate Marc Godbout says he will do whatever he can to secure federal funding for a multicultural centre in Orléans should he get elected.
The idea of a multi-service, multicultural centre for Orléans is something that has been discussed among multicultural community leaders in the east end for some time.

Ahmed Ahmed is the president of the Ottawa-Orléans Somali Organization. He believes a multicultural centre would serve a number of purposes. It would act as a gathering place for the growing number of local residents from different cultures. It would provide a space for multicultural arts groups. It would help bring the various multicultural communites together and it would act as a bridge between the multicultural community and the community at large.
"If you want real integration, you need something like this to ease the multicultural community into the mainstream. With such a thing as this people would feel as if they belong. It would act as a bridge from isolation to integration," says Ahmed.

Daljeet Gill is the past-president of the Ottawa Sikh Society and another major supporter of a multicultural centre for Orléans.

"We need quite a big centre to fulfill the needs of the various communities," says Gill. "It should have a gym, a theatre, seminar facilities and high tech classrooms. It should also be open to the entire community."

A rough estimate of the potential cost of such a facility is in the $4 million to $6 million range, and while Gill and Ahmed are hoping the federal government and the province will provide the majority of the funding, they say members of the various multicultural communities are ready to step forward with their cheque books as well.

"I know members of my community are willing to do their part and I'm sure the other communities are willing to do so as well," says Ahmed.

According to the 2006 Census, 15 per cent of the respondents, or 16,230 people living in Ottawa-Orléans, identified themselves as a visible minority. A full third identified themselves as being black. The second largest sub-group, or 3,340 people, are from the Asian sub-continent which includes India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka; 2,380 people indicated they were Chinese; 1,605 are Arab; 830 are Filipino and 760 are from Southeast Asia.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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