History Of ATCA
The first contact between the Thais and the Province of Alberta was in the early sixties when a few Thai students attended and graduated from the University of Alberta (U of A). Since that time many Thai students have been coming to Alberta for their education in the fields of education, arts, science, medicine, In 1966, the Thai government received assistance from the Canadian government to improve its secondary education by transforming the formerly academic oriented schools into a comprehensive school system. A group of Thai teachers and administrative personnel totaling over 200 came to study at the U of A between 1966 and 1971. A similar program but with shorter training period was also instituted between 1975 and 1979, but this time the Thais paid for the expenses themselves. Under these programs, many Canadians professors and educational personnel have gone to Thailand as advisors and consultants to the Minister of Education.
With these initial contacts Thailand and Canada have become better known to each other. During the past 20 years Thai professionals such as doctors, university professors, college instructors, teachers, engineers, etc., have been coming to Canada for their study, training, and works. Most of them have gone back to continue with their professions in Thailand, but some have settled down in many parts of Canada, especially, Alberta. At the same time, more Canadians have visited Thailand, some of whom as CUSO volunteers to teach English in school and colleges, advising people in the fields of agriculture, health, engineering technology, etc.
The Thai Association in Alberta (Edmonton) was formed in 1969 by a group of Thai students who attended the U of A. The main objectives of the association were:
In the early years, the membership was small and activities were limited, only to the university community. The activities included providing membership directory and newsletter to member and friends, exhibiting “THAILAND” on the campus, gathering socially, meeting and electing office bearers. In 1984, the Thai Association of Alberta was officially registered. The Association’s objectives have been expanded to be more community-oriented.
Membership of the Thai community in Alberta varies from time to time due to migration, especially of the student members. As of January 1985, there are over 40 Thai families totaling nearly 100 persons who live in Edmonton and the vicinity. Many more live in other cities and towns in Alberta. Among these numbers, approximately 15% were university and college students and about 20% were children of school age or younger.
Most of the Thai adjust well to the Canadian way of life and climatic conditions. Those who chose to settle in Canada have been responsible law abiding citizens who contribute significantly to the economy and cultural richness of their adopted country through their professional and other skills. The Thais have attempted to maintain and share their culture with the community at large by organizing social and cultural activities during special occasions such as the New Year celebration, the Traditional New Year in April (Songkran), and the King’s birthday in December.
There have been a few weddings in the Thai community. The traditional marriage customs required Buddhist monks to officiate the ceremony. Since the monks are not normally available in Alberta, or indeed Canada at that time, senior members of the community have, by necessity, assumed the monk’s role for these purposes. By good fortune, not many deaths have occurred in the Thai community. Unlike in the case of marriage, Buddhist monks are required in funeral services. Morning period varies with social status and circumstances, and many range from a month to over a year.
Since 1990, the Thai population has substantially increased with more Thai families in Calgary. Unofficial gatherings occurred frequently in the Thai community. In 1992, the Hudson Bay Company requested the participation of the Thai community to promote Thai culture, while promoting the Bay’s in-store products from Thailand. The event was a huge success for both parties and the Bay donated a some fund to the Thai community, assist in the formatting a legitimate Thai organization in Calgary.
That same year, the Thai community started the first annual Songkran festival in Calgary. Stemming from this event, the Thai community experienced growth in its members that a new chapter of the Thai Association was created in Calgary with the cooperation from the chartered members in Edmonton, the Alberta Thai – Canadian Association was official registered in 2002.