Fort McMurray is a highly multicultural and diverse community who openly welcomes people from all walks of life and backgrounds. As Fort McMurray's population continues to grow, so does cultural diversity. There are many associations and services in the region that aim to increase cultural awareness, inclusion, and provide assistance to immigrants. Diversity in the Wood Buffalo region is heavily supported by one of the major diversity-friendly groups called the Multiculturalism Association of Wood Buffalo. Their mandate is: to foster an environment in which individuals and groups can share an understanding of their cultures, building a culturally diverse community in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
The Multiculturalism Association of Wood Buffalo originated in 1984, when the secretary of state met with various cultural communities in Fort McMurray to determine how they can best meet the needs of the growing cultural diversity. In 1985 Multiculturalism Association of Wood Buffalo was granted society status, and its objectives were formed. The objectives of the multiculturalism association are: (1) to educate and increase the public appreciation of diverse cultures, (2) to establish, maintain, and operate a resource centre for newcomers and the community at large, and (3) to educate the public about community diversity through workshops, seminars, and training.
The association holds various events where you can enjoy the day outside of your Fort McMurray apartment rental, and participate in cultural diversity awareness workshops, learn about cross-cultural parenting, and get resources for newcomers. The association throws fun get-togethers like pancake breakfast day, multicultural expos, and anniversary celebrations. Their events are a great opportunity to meet other residents and visitors in the community, and also learn valuable information about cultures other than your own.
One of the volunteers at the association, Mary Thomas tells her story of immigrating from India to Alberta's Wood Buffalo region. Mary's husband, was given a work permit and a job opportunity to work as a reliability engineer in the oil sands. The majority of Mary's family lives in India, and since she believes life is all about relationships, she never imagined that she would immigrate to Canada. However, through her time in Fort McMurray, she realized that her divine purpose was to support the increasing diversity in the Wood Buffalo region. In an interview, Mary states: "I can foresee a new multiculturalism thriving in Fort McMurray, a beautiful and vibrant melange of cultures from around the world where all these people found a niche for themselves and have come home to, where friendship, support and harmony is not based on the colour of your skin. I believe this to be the beginning of a grand image makeover for Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, the land of oil money." Mary notes that as a newcomer to the community, volunteering for the multiple associations promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives, helped her network, meet and interact with new people. She feels that through her volunteer experiences, she became a better person and simultaneously helped form the foundation of her community's future.
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