Essays on Growing up in a Housing Co-op – May 2021
Since launching our podcast series about life in a housing cooperative we have talked to co-op members from Ireland, Switzerland, the USA, and in this latest episode we talk to Fariha, Fatima, Zaid, and Juju, four youth living in Sarcee Meadows Housing Co-operative in Calgary, Canada.
Living in Sarcee Meadows has given these four youth great opportunities to not only feel welcome and part of a larger community but to also learn about community service. We’re also joined by another co-op member, Kathy Aubichon, also known as Aunty Kathy. She discusses the Women’s Circle, a group initially formed to learn more about the different cultures living in the co-op which has evolved into a larger entity doing important work in the larger community. You can watch this inspiring video to learn more about the Women’s Circle initiative.
Leading up to the podcast recording, the four youth wrote essays to describe their experiences of living at Sarcee Meadows which we are happy to be sharing with you below. Their hope is that other
co-ops will also form some sort of “Women’s Circle” once they realize what a positive impact they can make in their community and maybe more importantly on their youth.
Essays on Growing up in a Housing Co-op
Fariha – 12-years-old – grade 7
The best part about living in a co-op community is that we are always there for each other. I reminisce about the days we would walk back from school and if mom was not home, we could go to any of our neighbours’ houses that would always welcome us.
I grew up watching my mom volunteering, organizing special events (Hijab Day), social gatherings, and get-togethers with the extraordinary women that make up the Women’s Circle in Sarcee Meadows Housing Co-op (SMHC). My mom was one of the founding members of the Women’s Circle, a group of women from different backgrounds living in our co-op. They organize events to help bridge the gap between the new immigrant families and the older residents of our co-op. This Women’s Circle has been recognized and awarded nationally by CHF Canada for its exemplary work.
My mom and Aunty Kathy have also been on Breakfast Television. I remember we were so excited to watch them live on TV. We kids have also been a part of this Women’s Circle. Every alternate Saturday (before covid), we would drive downtown with my mom, aunty Kathy and many of our neighbours and kids, to feed the homeless. We’re always eager to help out in any way we could. It made me realize how fortunate we are to have all the blessings that we take for granted.
Fatima – 14-years-old – grade 9
I have been living here in Sarcee Meadows since 2012. I love living in the co-op. It’s like one big happy family. There is so much variety in people, traditions, celebrations, religions, and food. Being part of this society feels special. I have participated in many of their events like Hijab Day, feeding the homeless, or Cultural Fest.
Being an immigrant was not easy for my parents. I guess many of the immigrants come across racism in some form but luckily as a kid, I never faced it in the co-op. There is a lot of acceptance and I like the caring and open attitude of people living here.
Democracy, honesty, social responsibility are all values that I feel are imbibed in the people living in the co-op and that are reflected in their nature, personality, and in their smiles.
Juju – 13-years-old – grade 7
Living in a co-op teaches me to be mindful of others around me. For instance, this summer I regularly went with the Women’s Circle to celebrate seniors’ birthdays. It was a very enlightening experience for me and seeing the smiles on the seniors’ faces left me with a very happy feeling.
My friends and I have grown up together and formed lifelong friendships. In our cooperative, I also feel very safe – we all look out for each other. In spite of the pandemic that is going on right now our cooperative has no problem supporting each other. You can never step out more than two steps before somebody greets you with a smile. Even if we cannot be present in each other’s homes, our food can. Last summer we shared our traditional foods with people who were willing to try something different.
In the future, I am really looking forward to joining committees and attending members’ meetings.
Zaid – 14-years-old – grade 9
Sarcee Meadows is an amazing community to be a part of. Everyone is like family. We don’t shy away from expressing anything to each other and it’s just a great vibe. Our community is lucky enough to be diverse, with different backgrounds blending in to form a unity. I have met some of my best friends here. Co-op members attend meetings to help shape our neighbourhood into something greater.
I can say with full honesty that Sarcee Meadows is a lifestyle that many people are missing out on. Not only is the community great but also the people who inhabit it. Everyone just wants to help. Even in bad times, the community mourns together. iI’s a great sense of belonging and appreciation. To conclude, Sarcee Meadows is a worthwhile community that is built to last. We have carefully constructed and solidified its foundation and we hope we can invite more people to join our family.