Calgary North of McKnight

First 2000 Days North of McKnight Coalition

Coordinator Tyler Belgrave (r)
​Translating information into different languages is an important concern for this Calgary coalition that serves a community where 40 per cent of residents are immigrants. The coalition has produced a booklet that contains its community EDI results, as well as helpful information for parents on a range of topics from discipline to play and using technology. The booklet, North of McKnight Community Information and Early Childhood Development Tips, has been translated into Punjabi, Hindi, Farsi, French, English, Arabic and Urdu. 


The booklets are distributed at coalition events, the local library and Parent Link Centre, and other places in the community frequented by families, such as Middle Eastern and other ethnic  grocery stores, where families often go. More than 400 copies of the booklet, which was released in November 2013, were distributed in less than two months. The most popular translation so far has been the Farsi version. 

Community at a glance

Punjabi, Arabic, Urdu, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Spanish are among the many languages spoken in this largely immigrant community dotted with gurdwaras, mosques, temples and churches. The community is one of the fastest growing in Calgary. It grew by 31 per cent between 2005 and 2010.

EDI baseline results

Forty per cent of the kindergarten-aged children in this community are experiencing great difficulty in one or more areas of development. Communications skills and general knowledge is the most challenging area of development. Forty-six per cent of children are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in this area of development. Thirty-five per cent of young children are experiencing difficulty or great difficulty in language and thinking skills, the second most challenging area of development. 


  • The coalition meets once a month and has a strong core group, which includes: the Calgary Public School Board, the Calgary Public Library, the United Way, immigrant service groups, preschools, and parents.
  • The community has a solid history of community development.  Community needs and priorities were identified through earlier work done by the North of McKnight Residents Committee in partnership with United Way of Calgary and Area. The committee broadly consulted with community members, including ethno-cultural groups, and shared its findings in the 1000 Voices report (2010).
  • The community is diverse with rich cultural traditions and a strong sense of pride.
  • The Genesis Wellness Centre, which opened in January 2012, serves as an important recreational, social services and community centre. It houses branches of the Calgary Public Library and YMCA, social services, community gathering spaces, and indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.    


  • The coalition serves a large, varied population (105,450 people, according to the 2006 Statistics Canada census data), and 11 subcommunities.
  • There is a lack of affordable, accessible early child-care and early learning programs. Staff training and professional development are needed.
  • Many parents work at several low-paying jobs in order to make ends meet.
  • The rate of domestic violence appears to be higher than the rest of Calgary: in 2009, Calgary police reported nearly double the number of calls related to domestic violence per capita in North of McKnight as compared to the per capita rate for Calgary.
  • There is a shortage of affordable multi-family housing units.
  • Public transit routes and operating hours are limited.
  • Language issues can impact employment and participation in the community. Ethno-cultural communities do not always interact or communicate well. These factors can led to isolation.
  • Residents reported discrimination (1000 Voices report), especially those who were members of visible minorities and/or wore distinctive traditional clothing.

Coalition actions

  • A pilot project, funded by the United Way,  engages families that do not access library services. The Saddletowne Public  Library provides books in Urdu and Farsi to a preschool for a Saturday reading program that attracts up to 15 mothers and their children. The program aims to improve the areas of development measured by the EDI, especially communications skills and general knowledge. EDI results for the community show that a high percentage of young children are struggling in this particular area of development.  Mothers who attend the program are provided with information about children’s brain development (using the Norlien Foundation’s video How Brains are Built). The pilot reading program is also offered by two moms in the community, who are provided with the books and host sessions in their homes.
  • About 60 moms were informally surveyed over cups of coffee at a Tim Hortons, close to the community centre. Every mom was offered a $25 grocery store gift certificate for her time. Participants identified the lack of affordable, accessible child care as a high priority issue.
  • A booklet containing EDI results and parenting information was produced, translated into several languages and distributed throughout the community. 
  • Closer links and partnerships have been facilitated among service providers and professionals. For example: a speech pathologist offered to help a daycare centre  that was frustrated by having to wait six months to a year for speech pathology services. The agency where the speech pathologist works offered to screen all new children entering the daycare every September. 
  • Professional development was organized for early care providers. The coalition heard many    complaints, from day home providers in particular, about the lack of professional development opportunities. Three sessions were organized and attracted between 17 to 35 day home providers, parents, preschool teachers and day care workers. The sessions were led by trained professionals, including from Mount Royal University. Participants were given tools that they could use on their own. The coalition would like to continue to offer this kind of training. 
"There's no point in stuffing a brochure in everyone's mailbox. We have to give parents and ECD providers something tangible to work with. They need something that will respond to their immediate needs. That's what gets people on board."
Tyler Belgrave, coalition coordinator


Updated: April 28, 2014