When she first arrived in Canada, Toyin Oladele found herself faced with endless obstacles when it came to getting a job, a similar struggle other immigrants face. Oladele realized there was a lack of resources related to Calgary’s arts industry, for both immigrants and newcomers, so she decided to build a community to help those new navigate the scene.
Launching the Immigrant Council for Arts Innovation in 2017, Oladele built a network of partners and volunteers to help immigrants and other newcomers navigate and get settled in Calgary’s art scene.
“I had a research document that I did, and I started sharing it with stakeholders in the arts community,” says Oladele. “So this is what is going on in the immigrant arts community, this is what we’re facing this is what we think can be the solution.”
Oladele never envisioned her dream of supporting people and the immigrant community growing into the organization it has today.
Smitha Varghese, the program manager at the council, says that working with artists is a rewarding and joyous process.
“I am really amazed at the talent that the newcomer artists brings along with them,” says Varghese. “Working with artists is always the best part and most interesting job that I do.”