Background of SCCR

Somali Community in Toronto

Toronto is home to one of the largest Somali communities outside of Africa. The earliest Somalis arrived in Canada in the late 1960s with the majority arriving in the 1980s and 1990s.  Members of the Somali community live in all parts of the City of Toronto, including in various neighborhoods of North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough and Downtown

Census maps overlay with centres-02

The Somali community is concentrated in the West side of Toronto, with significant communities in downtown and Scarborough as well. This geographic distribution is strongly influenced by housing affordability, the larger Black population, and settlement patterns

The Northwest of the City of Toronto (encompassing North Etobicoke and West North York), is significantly under resourced due to much of the residents being of a lower socioeconomic status, recent immigrants, and racialized. Despite that, these community members have made do with what they have and have built thriving communities that have greatly contributed to the mosaic of Toronto and it’s status as a global multicultural hub.


Over the past several decades Somali communities in Toronto have advocated for the development of a cultural and recreation centre that serves as:

  • A hub for Somali-serving agencies and regionally-based non-profit organizations
  • An access centre for culturally appropriate city services
  • A recreational centre providing diverse programming to community members of all ages, including children, youth and seniors
  • A centre for the preservation of Toronto’s Somali communities’ history and their cultural contributions
  • A dynamic space that advances community belonging and serves the Somali community and all other residents near its place of operations.



Demonstrated Need

  • Most of the emerging and established community-facilities offered by Black organizations are arts-focused and they are few in number across the city. 
  • There continues to be a major investment gap for Black-led capital projects for multi-use and recreational facilities that can serve as a broader hub for culturally relevant services and organizations.
  • There is strong advocacy from the community sector calling for social infrastructure partnerships between public, private, and non-profit actors to co-create places with the communities they intend to serve. 
  • Although social infrastructure is often focused on the local scale, it relies heavily on public policy and capital investment that is not local. Therefore, policy support and investment at all levels of government are required to establish community-led projects amongst groups and neighbourhoods that have faced marginalization and dis-investment. 

The Future

The Somali community envisions a physical space designed and operated by the community, with ongoing support from all orders of government. This space must be located in an area accessible to Somali community members and in proximity to important city services, such as transportation corridors, public transit, and parks. We envision the Centre to be nestled within a mixed-use residential community.