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Toronto City Council approves plan to build Somali Cultural and Recreational Centre

Thursday July 21, 2022

Toronto (HOL) - Toronto’s City Council unanimously approved a motion on Wednesday afternoon to support the construction of a Somali Cultural and Recreation Centre  that would “be a hub to preserve and celebrate the rich contribution and histories of Toronto’s Somali communities.”

The motion was brought by York South-Weston Councillor Frances Nunziata and was seconded by Toronto’s Mayor John Tory.

“I was proud to support this motion along with my colleague Councillor Frances Nunziata on a future Somali Community Cultural and Recreation Centre,” Mayor John Tory said following the vote.  

“These types of centres provide much-needed space for the community to gather, play, learn and provide support, and it helps people of all ages connect with one another. This project is an example of how we can create a strong and vibrant social infrastructure in Toronto and work together to support the many diverse communities that call our city home. I look forward to seeing the vision for the centre come to life and will continue to support the community and the local Councillor on this project.”

Councillor Frances Nunziata said that the proposed cultural and recreational centre would help second and third-generation Somalis connect with their culture and elders.

“Toronto is home to one of the largest Somali communities outside of Africa. I am proud to say that many call York-South Weston home. I enjoy partaking in their festivities. When I was approached to move this motion, I wholeheartedly agreed because I truly believe that having a cultural centre brings a community together and enriches learning. It's a space where you can build a good foundation for the youth to learn about their culture, as well as a place where the elderly can share their experiences. It fosters a sense of cultural identity and belonging.”

The idea to build a community centre in Toronto was spearheaded by a group of young Somali professionals who have been having discussions to establish a uniquely-Somali space since the mid-2010s.

The group formed the Somali Community Recreation and Cultural Centre Steering Committee earlier this year to bring the lofty goal to a reality.

Plans for the Somali Centre gained traction following a community event in late March with Mayor Tory.

"Years of advocacy aided in the historic motion from Toronto's City Council to explore a potential partnership to build a Somali Cultural and Recreation Centre. The Somali Community Recreation and Cultural Centre Steering Committee plans to continue to engage with community members and city staff to materialize the potential of a Somali Cultural and Recreation Centre into fruition. This is a huge win for Toronto, home to one of the largest Somali populations outside of Africa, and the Somali-Canadian community living across the city of Toronto who have contributed to the social, cultural and economic fabric of this city,” the Chair of the Steering Committee and founder of the Somali Cultural and Recreation Centre Project, Zakaria Abdulle, said in a press statement.

The Somali Community Recreation and Cultural Centre Steering Committee believes that the Somali Centre will open up more avenues of collaboration between the city of Toronto and the Somali community.

Wednesday’s City Council motion is the first step in establishing the Somali centre. It instructs various departments within the city, including General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, the Executive Director, Social Development and Finance Administration, to collaborate with the Somali Community Recreation and Cultural Centre Steering Committee to select the most suitable location for the Somali community centre and discuss funding opportunities.

The steering committee said it would hold consultations across Toronto with members of the Somali community to produce its feasibility assessment.


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