Ermias Beyene (left) attends meeting
Photo courtesy of Charles Olfert

Ermias Beyene, left, attends a meeting with Charles Olfert, right, and Nicole Tiessen at AODBT.

When my workplace, AODBT, an architecture firm in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was approached in 2011 to become a partner with MCC's program, IVEP, we in the office didn’t even know what those letters meant or the impact this partnership would have on our office environment.

Now, six years later, “IVEP” is a really important part of our office vocabulary and culture. We have had four excellent volunteers over the last five years from Cambodia, Colombia, Ethiopia and Indonesia. They have all given us a new appreciation for the winter snow and ice we take for granted here in Saskatchewan. They have also taught us more about ourselves and the world through day to day interactions. Our IVEPers are always proud to give us video and power point presentations about their country, their culture and the architectural styles unique to their home and through this they dispel our many misconceptions.

Our Saskatoon office typically consists of about 40 staff including architects, technologists and construction contract administrators. The IVEPer usually has some architectural and computer graphics training, but from a completely different background. They have a work station in the center of the design studio like everyone else and from here they become our unofficial pro-bono department, which allows us to work on community projects we might not otherwise be able to consider.

There are a host of nonprofit organizations that are benefiting this year from the excellent design and graphic skills of our current IVEPer. Ermias Beyene is from Ethiopia and has been with us since September 2016. Currently he is involved with activity centers for disabled children in several communities, designing  pow-wow arbors for First Nations groups, developing several Mennonite seniors projects, new cabins at Shekinah Retreat Centre, future renovations at Rosthern Junior College, an arts maker space initiative, a world championship three on three basketball concept and the Rosthern food bank, just to name a few!

Many people in Saskatchewan will miss Ermias when he leaves in July and not just because of his nonprofit involvement. He is also active with the Mount Royal Mennonite Church and is an enthusiastic participant in our ukulele group as well as the men's choir, A Buncha Guys.