I may have said this before but one of the things I love most about Madame Premier is the community we are building of women who support women - in politics, business and community. Community could be Alice Lam's middle name. She is a community BUILDER.
Alice is a champion of building connected and sustainable communities - the Tigersted Block is just one example (Alice manages the building and oversees the Tigersted Fleamarket - Madame Premier's local pick-up location!), her work to preserve and modernize Calgary's Chinatown, her support for Calgary's Green Line (which MP fully supports), her advocacy for small businesses and individuals impacted by Covid-19 by sharing easy to understand information on the Tigersted Instagram account or her love of all things small business. On top of it all, Alice is an incredible person and it is a privilege to know her.
Without further ado, here are MP's seven questions to Alice Lam!
MP: Best little known fact about the Tigersted building?
Alice: Tigerstedt Block was slated for development. A slow economy and a boom in short-term rental space on the block proved to be a recipe for success in supporting up and common entrepreneurs. Through our leasing efforts and prioritization to incubate new ideas, the block is revitalized and a jewel of Calgary.
MP: It's your first dinner out in Calgary after Covid-19. Where do you go and why?
Alice: Hardest question ever!!!! I really miss dim sum. I would probably go for dim sum in Chinatown because its the best meal to share with friends and family and soooo delicious.
MP: How did you get involved in being so active in the community?
Alice: I’ve volunteered my whole life and just find so much joy in it. I love seeing people happy and active in their neighbourhoods, and I love supporting entrepreneurs. You have to sacrifice a lot to start a business and I am forever impressed by the ingenuity and grit it takes to persevere. I want everyone to feel healthy, happy, safe and inspired in the communities they live and work in because I think it makes Calgary stronger.
MP: You volunteer with the Calgary Immigrant Women's Association. How can people get involved and what positive impact will it have?
Alice: When I moved back to calgary in 2014 I literally asked anybody who would answer “where should I volunteer if I want to work with immigrants”. I grew up in a family of Vietnamese refugees and really attribute our family’s integration in solid community service by other Canadians and non-profit organizations. I know that this is still a very important service that settlement agencies provide and I wanted to help in whatever way I could. I was told about CIWA by Amal Umar, the founder of the organization back when it was in a church basement. I was so impressed that they are female-run, and have now grown to be the largest female serving settement agency in the world. The biggest testimonial is the number of staff we have at CIWA that were former clients or volunteers. I got bit by the CIWA bug 6 years ago and the work I see both at the Board level and operationally is so impressive.
If you want to get involved there are a number of ways. If you are the owner of a company that could use some extra admin help, you could offer to place one of the CIWA clients in the professional bridging program. It gives women a chance to have Canadian work place experience at no cost to the company. Most of the time the company hires the individual if they can because they are so impressed by the calibre of women.
Right now they are sewing face masks for donations to non-profit agencies. The seamstress are all immigrant seniors who want to give back. CUE TEARS.
If you teach a skill, we would love to have you come and do a presentation for CIWA. The ladies love to learn.
If you work in marketing or PR, we would love to get some help in spreading the word about the important work we do.
Finally, every Christmas we have family hamper drives for children and families. They include food, clothing, toys and it really means a lot to the families.
If you want to learn more about the organization, please ask me! I love to share what CIWA is doing.
MP: What thing in your closet do you wear the most and why?
Alice: If you have met me you know that I wear a mock neck or a turtle neck pretty much year round! I love the comfort and its kind of my uniform. I love patterned stretchy dress pants from Uniqlo (elastic waist band thank you) and I love my boots from everyone (yay to ethical fashion!)
MP: If you could raid someone's closet, who would it be and why?
Alice: OMG I feel like locally, I would raid the closet of my friend Andrea (@deavarga) she has beautiful pieces that are tailored and structured and sustainable.
International - it would be Babba Rivera (@babba) - she’s not afraid of colour and really appreciates quality craftsmanship and design.
MP: What book do you go back to time and time again even though you know it inside and out?
Alice: Sway - the irresistible pull of irrational behaviour - super interesting and insightful into human behaviour. Its such a good reminder when I am participating in projects/meetings/etc.