From the snow-covered Himalayan’s to the golden prairies, one local cultural group is expanding its ranks in Lethbridge.

The Nepali Association of Lethbridge (LeNA) has been around for nearly a decade, but the organization has begun ramping up its efforts in the past two years.

Tulsi Paudel, LeNA advisor, says the time has been dedicated to ensuring new Nepalese residents of southern Alberta are able to successfully integrate into Canadian culture and society, while retaining their own heritage. 

“We wanted to promote our language within our children and to promote our heritage and culture to grow Canadian society,” said Paudel.

Adding to this, Binod Pageni, president of LeNA, says the organization is all about identity.

“We established our organization to promote Nepalese cultural, spiritual, social and national and international values by bringing all the Nepalese families together for the benefit of the community,” said Pageni. 

“We would like to continue our tradition and culture to the new generation.”

Currently, LeNA offers Nepalese classes to children in within their community, but also to anybody from any other ethnic background who wishes to learn more about Nepal and its cultural heritage.

Pageni says this is important because, just one generation in, younger Nepalese students are unable to understand the Nepali language.

“The new generation, they cannot speak Nepali and cannot write Nepali. So, we are focusing to promote the Nepali language.”

Other activities on offer by LeNA include participation in the annual Asian Heritage Festival, sporting events and other social gatherings. 

However, as priorly stated, the primary goal is to help Nepali newcomers enter Canada with less stress and less fear.

“We direct (new immigrants) to different resources, the university or the college,” said Paudel. 

This, he says, is a crucial service that was not offered when he first arrived 15 years ago.

“When we came to Canada, we didn’t have any other friends or family to help us, support us,” said Paudel. “So, with that experience, we felt like we could better help our community.”

This thought was echoed by Pageni, who says he has gone through the same challenges now facing other members of the community.

“(We are) sharing our own experiences,” said Pageni.

LeNA is searching for a more stable, fulltime location to hold meetings and events, with the group currently meeting at member houses, among other areas. Both Pageni and Paudel say they hope to find something soon, so they can continue to expand upon the foundations of their organization.

By Justin Sibbet, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 29, 2024 at 14:20

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta
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