In the heart of Cook Street Village is the Cook Street Village Activity Centre (CSVAC) (380 Cook Street). CSVAC is a non-profit organization that has been providing services and programs for people of all ethnic and cultural backgrounds for decades, and they just celebrated their 40th anniversary. The mission statement of the Centre is to provide educational, social, and recreational activities for individuals 50+ but they encourage all ages to visit and take advantage of their services and programs. The activity centre only has seven regular staff, but it is by no means a small organization. It is largely volunteer run with over 100 volunteers working there each year. The staff and volunteers are friendly and welcoming, and over 100 people come to the Centre each day from all over Victoria both long term residents and newcomers. They also have a large number of visitors and snowbirds that join them.
The Cook Street Village is a proud member of the Community Partnership Network (CPN), a collection of organizations with the goal of creating a more inclusive and diverse Victoria. One of the many ways the Cook Street Village Activity Centre does this is by providing a space for cultural events. These events include multiculturalism day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Chinese Lunar New Year among others. The Centre is always open to more ideas for events and they appreciate the opportunity to celebrate with and learn from others about their cultural backgrounds. In addition, the Centre offers important programs that can help people learn more about the experience of being a newcomer. For example, next year the Centre will host Forced to Flee, a workshop that help others better understand the refugee experience.
In addition to special events and workshops, the Centre offers a variety of activities each day including wellness treatments such as haircuts, traditional Chinese acupuncture, cribbage, arts and crafts, and guest speakers. It is important to the Centre to be inclusive for all and each of their programs are offered at affordable rates, something that can be a huge help to newcomers in Victoria. As well as programs and services, the Centre serves a hot lunch every Wednesday. For example, the Wednesday I visited they were serving perogies with bacon and onions. It is a perfect spot to stop in on one of Victoria’s cold and rainy days for a nice hot cup of tea or coffee for only a dollar at their Tastebuds Café, or one of their scones baked fresh every morning by their Cook. When I asked Carol Turnbull, Cook Street Village Activity Centre’s Executive Director why promoting diversity and inclusion is so important to them she said, “it’s the fabric of who we are”. This is evident from the kindness and welcoming nature of the staff and volunteers at the Centre and I encourage you to visit the Cook Street Village Activity Centre next time you are in Cook Street Village.
To learn more about the Cook Street Village Activity Centre visit their website: http://cookstreetvillageactivitycentre.com