Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents executive director Ahmed Abdulkadir poses with Wichitowin Society interim chief executive Sheldon Hughes in Churchill Square Tuesday.
Published on Jul 13 2016
Kevin Maimann
Somali and Indigenous communities in Edmonton are finding strength in numbers.

The Ogaden Somali Community of Alberta Residents (OSCAR) and the Wichitowin Society forged a partnership this spring, and are now discussing inner-city crime and other issues that affect both communities.

“We work in a vacuum and it’s the us-against-them mentality that we want to disrupt,” said OSCAR executive director Ahmed Abdulkadir.

“Mainly, we want to learn from each other.”

OSCAR spearheaded the initial meeting in conjunction E4C, an organization working to alleviate poverty, and has expanded the group’s work with Wicihitowin to address common struggles with poverty and fair access to the marketplace.

They say these two issues factor into drug and gang problems.

Many members of both communities live in the same neighbourhoods – notably Parkdale, Delton, McCauley and Alberta Avenue.

The group will host a cross-cultural economic development debriefing Wednesday to launch an ad-hoc committee that will make proposals to the city.

Abdulkadir said he no longer wants to wait for solutions to come top-down from government.

“We want to educate our communities on what they can do,” he said.

“We want to own where we are and we want to do our share and we should not be waiting on others to tell us what to do.”

Wicihitowin interim chief executive Sheldon Hughes said the two groups share a similar “institutional backlash” from colonial experiences.

Hughes said the partnership’s success has led Wicihitowin to spark discussions with other cultural groups in Edmonton, which they hope will lead to a louder, more unified voice and less duplication of work.

“There certainly is strength in numbers,” Hughes said. “Moreso, the need to find commonality, to find those collective priorities, it helps to create a stronger message – one that can affect the most change.”


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