Stakeholder Spotlight: The Shaama Centre
A Stakeholder Spotlight on the Shaama Centre. Their focus is to provide service and programs for
immigrant and refugee seniors and women and those who are isolated because of social and physical
Who is the Shaama Centre?
The Shaama Centre has been operating for more than 20 years in the heart of Mill Woods.
Our focus is to provide service and programs for immigrant and refugee seniors, women, and those who are isolated because of social and physical barriers.
The centre is founded, led, and run by a diverse group of multicultural seniors and women with both lived and learnt experience.
What makes the Shaama Centre different?
People who come to us feel comfortable and at home because they know they will be cherished, their culture will be understood, their traditional foods will be appreciated and their dietary restrictions honored.
Our clients see their worldview/identity reflected in our programming, and that people who look like them make up not just the frontline staff, but also the leadership and founders.
In Edmonton, South Asians are the second largest and fastest-growing visible minority group. A great many cannot access services they need or participate in various programs offered because of the language, culture, and financial barriers.
Also, immigrant and refugee seniors have had different life experiences, so they face unique challenges. Our Staff and members have some shared experiences.
Though our target population is South Asian seniors and women, we have seniors from other countries. Our centre is committed to providing holistic and individualized services and supports to all those needing it, no matter which community.
What does the Shaama Center offer to the community?
We have created an intercultural, interfaith, and intersectional space to welcome all those who come to our door.
The Shaama Centre celebrates diversity on an ongoing basis by providing opportunities for social gatherings, offering events that build bridges, bring different cultures and faith groups together and promotes understanding and empathy. For example, we host an Annual Interfaith Multicultural Celebration.
We’re a vibrant home away from home in the Millwoods community. Seniors from all communities feel welcome to celebrate, and bring their full selves into our building.
The center offers:
- One-on-one support,
- Outreach services,
- Help with navigating government systems,
- Educational workshops, such as functional English, learning to use computers,
- Information, referrals, (translation & services available in Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi)
- Community support and connections,
- Fitness classes
- and other activities.
English and computer classes improve senior’s communication skills and help them to become more independent.
Workshops and presentations are arranged on physical and mental health topics, housing, transportation, domestic violence, and resources available. It helps them to take better care of their health, make informed choices and to become more aware of social issues affecting them.
The Shaama Centre also creates opportunities for seniors and women:
- to share their stories in an annual magazine called Reflection,
- to participate in intergenerational activities,
- to mentor youth,
- to teach heritage languages to the younger generation,
- to become leaders/educators and
- to volunteer and contribute.
These activities make seniors feel valued and included, and help them to experience a real sense of belonging.
Our seniors also teach traditional crafts and make handmade dolls. The centre offers sewing classes and promotes income-generating activities (e.g., like catering, sewing/tailoring).
These arts and crafts classes, the chai and chat program, peer support group, and volunteer opportunities help our seniors to get connected with the community and reduce their isolation. It enhances their well-being and quality of life by finding a sense of identity in Canada.
At the Shaama Centre we believe that in this great country we can be fully Canadian and fully embrace our own cultural and religious identity at the same time. To achieve this goal, we use community resources and volunteers to make the programs affordable. Without paid staff, supportive partners, and government funding, it would not be possible to provide these services.
Do you have any material on raising awareness about elder abuse or domestic violence?
Yes, we have some DVD materials translated in Urdu and skits on video raising awareness about elder abuse in Urdu, Hindi,
These recordings were written, directed and performed by members of our drama club. Our drama club members will be happy to do a live performance in the spring.
Is the Centre interested in collaborations, referrals, or partnerships?
We will welcome it. Please call us on weekdays between 2 and 4 p.m. or email us at email@example.com.
We will, be happy to host your group to a meet and greet light lunch gathering and get to know you – feel free to call and book.