Last Sunday it proudly unveiled the new Oliver Multicultural Centre on McKinney Road.
Bill Pascoa and Fernando Anjos from the Okanagan Portuguese Club hosted the unveiling at a special ceremony attended by local dignitaries.
Pascoa gave the audience a brief history lesson about the club, explaining how it started in 1980 with 150 members. That number has declined to 30 members.
Pascoa said this decline made it very difficult for the club to continue operating to the point it could no longer afford its lease and taxes.
The club approached the Town of Oliver and the Parks and Recreation Society to ask for an exemption, and it was subsequently granted a $1 a year lease. The condition was that the club maintain its status and be more inclusive by changing the name of the centre.
Pascoa said the public had the perception that the club was only open to the Portuguese community, but it was actually open to all cultural groups.
“Having this facility will hopefully have spin-offs for other groups,” Pascoa said, noting the centre will help various community groups to remain active.
“That’s what Canada is all about – multiculturalism.”
He said the Oliver Multicultural Centre will give the Portuguese Club more exposure and help keep it sustainable. However, it does need more members, Pascoa pointed out.
Oliver Mayor Ron Hovanes said the Okanagan Portuguese Club is a vibrant part of the community, adding that it brings much “culture and colour” to Oliver.
“Today is a time to grow,” he said, noting the club has come forward to meet the challenge of being more inclusive.
Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson commended the club for “thinking ahead and keeping culture alive.”
Area C director Allan Patton recognized the Mexican culture as “another wave of immigration” in Oliver.
He stated that the Oliver Multicultural Centre welcomes any culture and immigrants of all kind.
The centre has a kitchenette and can seat approximately 70 people.