Somali-Canadian group in Edmonton planning to open Heritage Museum

A local Somali Canadian group is planning to open a museum chronicling the history and culture of the community in Edmonton.

Organizers with the Somali Canadian Cultural Society of Edmonton hope the museum will help educate the public at large about the Somali community — and connect Somali-Canadian youth who have never been to Somalia with their heritage. The organizers believe it will be the first such museum in Canada.

“It’s basically about who we are, how we got here, what happened to us, what we had and what we lost,” said museum director Naima Haile.

The museum does not have an opening date, but cultural society president Jibril Ibrahim said they hope to start rolling out exhibits in the summer. It will be located in the Bosco Foundation building in the city’s Balwin neighborhood, 6770 129 Ave., where the Somali society has its headquarters.

Somalis have a long history in Canada. While many came as refugees following the country’s civil war in the early 1990s, a number of Somalis came to Canada in the 1960s and 1970s as students, sent by the Somali government.

Ibrahim said Edmonton has Canada’s third largest Somali population, behind Toronto and Ottawa. Many initially settled in cities in eastern Canada before realizing the opportunities available in smaller cities in the west.

Haile estimated there are nearly 20,000 Somali people in Edmonton. According to Statistics Canada, there were 4,590 Somali-born people living in the city in 2016. Most immigrated in two waves — between 1991 and 2000, following the Somali civil war and collapse of the country’s central government, and between 2011 and 2016.

In addition to Somali artifacts, organizers are developing a digital, interactive library that will explain Somali history, from prior to the country gaining independence, through to the civil war and its aftermath. They plan to open the museum to school groups and make digital materials available for lessons.

North America’s first Somali heritage museum opened in Minnesota in 2013.

Source: Edmonton Journal 


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