New to Edmonton? Getting civically involved in your new city could be the best way to build connections.
Keren Tang recently came out to speak at NextGen’s Ignite: Your New Life in Yeg event. The event was the first of its kind for NextGen and aimed to give newcomers a place to network, learn more about the city, and hear from some prominent Edmonton newcomers and their tips for finding success in the city. We were so glad to see so many engaged attendees come out and participate.
For those who missed out, our next event will be held on Monday, October 1st from 5-8pm at Roundhouse in Grant MacEwan and the theme will be How to Make Friends, as an Adult. You can RSVP here!
If newcomers take one thing away from Keren’s talk, it would be that the civic involvement can be an incredibly effective way to make strong connections and integrate into a new city. Read on to learn more about Keren’s story and ways that newcomers can get involved!
Who is Keren Tang?
Keren has been an active member of the Edmonton community since relocating from Montreal in 2012. Since moving to Edmonton, she has worn many hats such as a community organizer, researcher, and policy advisor even made a run for City Councillor in the most recent election. She has worked hard to make her new home a better place by working with diverse communities including Indigenous populations and newcomer immigrants.
Keren is currently working on OtherWise, a new podcast with fellow Edmonton newcomers and co-hosts Ahmed Knowmadic Ali and Moréniké Ọláòṣebìkan. The podcast aims to share stories from communities of colour in Edmonton, highlighting our collective ethno-cultural-linguistic diversity and heritage, reflecting who we are as a City, and bringing about positive social change. With their unique experiences they’ll explore transnational, ethnocultural diasporic linkages, cross-cultural connections, and our relationships with our City and Treaty 6 land. The first episode, about the origin of the project, will be available for download over the summer and can be found wherever you get you podcasts – iTunes, Google, Stitcher. If you are interested in alternative voices and stories, check it out! You can also follow the team on Instagram and Twitter.
Keren gained nurturing connections, friends, and creative partners by getting civically involved and advocating for the causes she holds dear. For her, this was the key to integrating as a newcomer. Her first step in getting involved was through attending a public health advocacy class in her first year at graduate school where she and her classmates raised awareness and advocated for safe cycling infrastructure including separated bike lanes. Although this may not be for everyone, there are so many ways for newcomers to get involved!
Keren’s Best Tips for Getting Civically Involved in Edmonton
Look Into Campus Projects and Activities
If you are a student, campus activity is one of the best ways to get involved quickly. Often campus projects have impact beyond the school itself. The key is to cultivate the relationship with communities beyond the campus and stay committed even outside of an assignment or a school project. This helps with building that social network beyond school.
Help Out At Your Local Community League
Edmonton has a unique Community League system compared to elsewhere in the country. It is a good starting place to understand issues that matter where you live, and meet your neighbours. There is a Community League in every neighbourhood in the city, and they are always looking for help, especially input from young people! Find out here where your neighbourhood Community League is, how often they meet, the kinds of programs and activities they have, and how you can help. Not to mention, these organizations can also offer training for you to keep building your skills.
Find a Local Board to Contribute to
In Keren’s many board involvements, she has consistently heard appreciations for her perspective as a young person. Don’t feel you are not qualified simply because you are young! Board and committee work is a training ground to build your skills and expose you to a wide variety of people and issues. Most of the time, folks are appreciative of any contribution and the time you give. So many organizations - however big or small - need good, committed people to help. If you are unsure where to look, get in touch with Keren or us at NextGen!
Take a Risk, Start Your Own Project
Finally, if there is something that drives you every day, and you can’t seem to find an initiative to contribute to, start your own! Reach out to us or even on social media for help. Remember: Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
NextGen is so grateful that Keren took the time to come and speak to attendees at our inaugural event. She was informative, inspiring, and stayed around to answer questions and connect with attendees. If you or your organization would like to connect with Keren about leadership, her experiences in community, research, and policy, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you Keren!