The Afro-Caribbean Club is an under-reported association at SAIT, with 250 and counting members.
Located on the SAIT campus, the club strives to help connect and expand its network among international and domestic students.
“With a social club that is meaningful for networking and connecting, it was so hard to secure funding despite the help from SAIT,” said Chimdi Ilonze, the former president and treasurer of the Afro-Caribbean Club.
Opening its doors in 2018, the club didn’t begin to fully flourish until 2022, after hosting an event during Black history month.
The Afro-Caribbean Club currently has registered members from several countries, including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Trinidad, Tanzania, Barbados, South Sudan, and African and the Caribbean.
Despite the club’s name, it does not just open its door to Black students.
‘Everyone is welcome; whether you are Black, brown, Asian, or have any racial identity, you will always be a member,” said Elias Kasamba, the current vice president of the Afro-Caribbean.
“We’re working toward and trying to build a community where we can all have a long-lasting relationship within and outside Calgary to make meaningful career help and environment.”
The club thrives on breaking stereotypes projecting an image of a community that will empower, help, build, and create healthy social relationships.
“The club never has, and still doesn’t, have a problem with including everyone. We all have a lot of similarities, and some of our cultures align, making us one body,” said Kasamba.
In its beginning stages, the club encountered numerous startup challenges, such as insufficient funding required for its operation and management.
Lack of awareness played a huge role in the issues they faced because they had few members attending the club, which almost led to it closing.
“When people are in the workplace, you’re also able to foster that same kind of community where we look out for each other and help each other,” Ilonze explained.
“We try to provide a community in which you can find a lot of positive sisterhood and brotherhood.”
According to the Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada, results from analysis of the LSIC data show that, overall, about 29 per cent of immigrants reported having emotional problems, and 16 per cent reported high levels of stress at Wave 3.
“It feels relaxing to be around people who grew up with the same values as you,” said Saheed Alawiye, a member of the Afro-Caribbean club.
With the holiday season approaching, the club will be hosting its first-ever Christmas potluck.
“This is going to be a new experience for me, and I cannot wait to be part of this big event,” said Alawiye.