CFS forging great alliance with CanCham community

By Claudia Anghel, President of the Canada Friendship Society

While I write these words, I sit listening in to a discussion of Canadian politics happening between friends—wonderful people who I met and got to know over brunches and other social activities for Canadians and other friends right here in Bangkok.

Allow me to introduce you to the Canada Friendship Society!

When my partner Ryan and I first moved to Thailand two years ago from British Columbia, we sought local connections here in our new home—people who could answer a few questions about surviving and thriving in this new place, a friendly face and chat in a foreign, often chaotic place, and sometimes even a tether back to Canada, which we still think of as the “‘real” home.

Our quest proved unsuccessful until I contacted the previous Executive Director of CanCham who kindly introduced me to a few other Canadians. This made me realize the need for a social home away from home for Canadians living in Bangkok, particularly those who might not have business or diplomatic channel opportunities for that type of socialization. I got involved with several other local clubs to try to find this atmosphere but couldn’t find what I was looking for. Most of the local clubs had different purposes; for example, fundraising, or exclusively fancy dinner events, or even different values. Last year, I created the Canada Friendship Society (CFS) with a few friends with the goal of acting as inclusive ambassadors of Canadian culture and values to our local expat community, their friends, and other compatible people.

CFS’s first event was just four of us getting together for a coffee at a little bagel shop on Sukhumvit Soi 23 with a Canadian flag on the door and Montreal smoked meat bagels. A year later, things are very different, with hundreds of members who we’ve met, more than 150 different events covering a wide variety of activities and themes, and our group has become a symbiotic part of the Canadian community in Bangkok. But there’s one thing though that will not change, being friendly and welcoming to everyone.

CFS has a unique wonderful partnership with CanCham, who we’ve joined with as a corporate member. This relationship allows our members to attend social events at the member price and has been very helpful providing business support and connections to our interested members. We also work together to grow our community and accommodate as many as possible through advice and feedback on behalf of our members and other potential attendees. One example would be the many hours CanCham’s board & I spent working hard to organize this year’s Canada Day Party, which seems to have gone very well!

Another positive example of collaboration and community was at this year’s Spartan Race in Chonburi. We had a team formed of people from the CFS, CanCham and the Canadian Embassy that worked well together and demonstrated great teamwork. We managed to come 9th out of 96 registered teams and completed the race with no member left behind! We’re looking forward to the next event this November.

The Canada Friendship Society charges no member fees and tries to keep most events affordable. All our organizing expenses are currently sponsored. Events are organized by any member, as we want to have a community that lasts, changes with the times and grows. This requires more than just one or two people managing everything. Come check out one of our lunches, nights out, activities or other events and see if participating in our community can add to your life.

A big thank you to all our members, especially those strong supporters (you know who you are!) and those organizing some of the events (Colin Campbell!), it’s not always easy, but it is so worthwhile!