Creating Culture for Digital Spaces

Edmonton Heritage Council gives heritage organizations funding to create cultural projects thanks to a $35,000 Edmonton Community Foundation grant.

Parties in the park with live music, dancing, and food are relics, thanks to COVID-19, but they were what brought the Chollo Community Society of Edmonton together to celebrate their culture.

Since the pandemic put a stop to large gatherings, many communities feel out of touch. In-person cultural meetings and heritage celebrations are limited to how many people can attend, forcing everyone to adapt to a new, social-distanced normal. For groups including the Chollo Community Society of Edmonton, not being able to gather is hard to get used to, especially when they used to hold large events on a regular basis.

“Two years ago, we had a community barbeque at Rundle Park, and we invited a musician from Calgary, and he played music for us,” remembers Phillip Deng, Executive Director of the Chollo Community Society. “Everybody went crazy in the park, even people in other groups. They all came together to listen.”

Edmonton Heritage Council (EHC) wants to preserve community feeling between cultures and continue sharing stories even if it’s only through virtual means. Webinars, virtual panel discussions, and online community meet-ups are all part of EHC’s digital plan to keep communities together.

A $35,000 grant from Edmonton Community Foundation’s (ECF) COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund allowed Edmonton Heritage Council to host virtual webinars and meet-ups.

“ECF regularly partners with other funders to reach every corner of our community,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement explains. “By working together, we can do more and do better.”

The funds also went toward EHC’s Project Accelerator grants, which give the Chollo Community Society of Edmonton, and similar organizations, the opportunity to share their heritage.

The Project Accelerator Grant provides individuals and organizations with funding that allows them to create heritage projects that tell their communities’ diverse stories.

The Chollo Community Society of Edmonton was just one recipient out of many that received funding. The society plans to use the funding to “shatter the community’s obscurity” and highlight their community through oral history and documentary footage.

“We are proud of our culture, and we want to bring that to Canada, to Edmonton, to increase the diversity,” Deng said.

EHC has focused on giving funding to Digital Heritage Experiences because of the pandemic, so organizations like the Chollo Community Society of Edmonton can continue sharing their stories.

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.