As a part of Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW), the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre (OCCSC) celebrated Canada Day and Eid Al-Fitr with its new Syrian clients in presence of Sharon Kan the Executive Director of OCCSC, his Worship Jim Watson the Mayor of Ottawa, Honourable Chandra Arya MP of Nepean, Dr. Zijad Delic Imam of the South Nepean Muslim Centre (SNMC) and Michael Qaqish City Councillor for Gloucester South Nepean.
Around 270 clients representing 70 Syrian families supported by 43 volunteers and staff with 30 VIPS and partners attended the event at St. Elias Cathedral,700 Ridgewood Ave.
The celebration consisted of a 30-minute formal presentation that started with the National Anthem “O Canada” sung by Amy Yi, an OCCSC LINC Coordinator followed by speeches given by Sharon Kan, Jim Watson, Zijad Delic, Chandra Arya and Michael Qaqish. All Speakers congratulated the audience for Canada Day/Eid Al-Fitr and described how Canada, Ottawa particularly, welcomed newcomers providing all the needed services to support them in their settlement and integration journey. They also remarked on how valuable is the cultural contribution that newcomers add to the country’s multiculturalism and diversity.
Two testimonials were heard from two Syrian women: Ayda Alnoofoori & Amira Al Kazbary.
Ayda Alnoofoori is currently a food manager at YASMIN (Syrian food from the heart) who initiated an attempt to help Syrian newcomer women gain experience in the Canadian market and gain confidence in their skills. Alnoofoori along with another Canadian business woman established a business for 8 Syrian women, most of whom have benefited from OCCSC’s Language and Settlement services.
Amira Al Kazbary worked as an inspector for the Ministry of Education in Syria, she is currently volunteering with OCCSC to help her fellow Syrians in the community in South Keys, Ottawa
A Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to Yasmin (Syrian food from the heart) for the outstanding contribution to integration of Syrian women and participation in the Ottawa business market. Two other certificates of Appreciation were awarded to two Algonquin college international students from Brazil, Janete Marques Luz & Rogerio Sasazaki. They ran their project management field placement at OCCSC and were responsible for the event management as Project Manager and Project Coordinator, respectively.
After the formal presentation, the MC of the event Hassan Ezdahmad the Program Coordinator for the Services for Syrian Refugees Program (SSRP), thanked all the VIPs and invited the audience to enjoy the Chinese and Syrian cultural performances presented by Ya Fei and the Syrian singer Mohamad Nasser & musician Ismail Namis.
Delicious snacks cooked by new Syrian Canadians were offered to attendees. Trivia and lucky draw for 8 gift cards were given away by OCCSC sponsor Robbie’s Italian Restaurant. Kids had fun jumping in the bouncy castle sponsored by CIBC bank, painting and designing greeting cards with Eid & Canada Day wishes, getting their faces painted and decorated with Canadian flag images by Chinese Canadians young artist volunteers. Some women and little girls were delighted having henna tattooed on their hands. Everybody enjoyed having memorable pictures taken with a couple of Star Wars characters.
The event hosted an art exhibition for Syrian artist Nada Melly an OCCSC client as well as 2 other booths, Yasmine (Syrian food from heart) and South East Ottawa Community Health Centre, who distributed 20 free pairs ice-skates to Syrian kids. Appreciation certificates were awarded to 43 volunteers participants in this event.
The event was a great opportunity for OCCSC staff across different programs and projects, mainly Settlement, Canada Connection (HOST) and LINC, to come together to celebrate with their clients the nation’s birthday and Eid Al-Fitr. It was a great opportunity to celebrate our diversity and appreciation of the contributions multicultural groups and communities provide to Canadian society.