2019 Welcoming Ottawa Ambassadors

OLIP is pleased to introduce the 2019 Welcoming Ottawa Ambassadors.  Nominated by immigrants, the WOW Ambassadors are model Ottawa citizens, who through their generosity of spirit, openness, and appreciation of diversity have contributed tremendously to the settlement and integration of newcomers, and to the growth of Ottawa as a vibrant, prosperous and inclusive national capital.  Read their stories.  Promote the qualities of the welcoming attitudes imbued in their relationship with newcomers.  Share your thoughts using #WOW19; #SAO2019 hashtags.

WOW Ambassador: Sandra Barancira

Nominator: André Dunduri

The Canadian Value of Compassion

When Sandra Barancira came to Canada as a teenaged refugee 25 years ago, there was a very small Burundian community. “Then there was a wave of young people, some who went astray because of lack of support and adult supervision,” she remembers. “We became Canadian, but our heritage was still Burundian.”

WOW Ambassador: Carol Gervais

Nominator: Maisa Almadi

A Chance for a Better Life

When St. James Anglican Church in Manotick contacted Maisa Almada about sponsorsing her family to come to Canada, she knew it was a unique chance for a better life. Maisi, an Iraqi, her Palestinian husband and five children arrived in Ottawa in October 2018. 

WOW Ambassador: Philippe Dieudonné

Nominator: Rose Jean Baptiste

The gift of « Bonne Action »

A group of about 50 immigrant seniors in Ottawa agree that one man has made a difference in their lives. His name is Philippe Dieudonné and he has a broad smile that lights up a room. Seniors are often isolated and lonely, and being a newcomer can make it even more challenging. 

WOW Ambassador: Khatima Louaya

Nominator: Ruth Yaka Milenda

Building a Better Future for Canada

Ruth Yaka Milenda, a refugee claimant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, will never forget Khatima Louaya’s first visit to her humble apartment. “Although we had no furniture, Khatima sat on the floor with us to discuss our needs,” says Ruth. “It touched me so much.

WOW Ambassador: Marie Goreth Ruzirabwoba

Nominator: Cécile Nicayenzi

Sister of the Heart

When Cécile Nicayenzi came from Burundi in November 2014 to visit her daughter who had recently delivered premature twins in Montréal, her plan was to stay for six months. Then the political crisis erupted in Burundi. Her husband became a refugee in Rwanda. She was granted refugee status in 2016 and moved to Ottawa.

WOW Ambassador: Ajitha Marath

Nominator: Prathyusha Venugopal

A Surprise at the Airport

When Prathyusha Venugopal, her husband and teenaged son arrived at Ottawa airport and, Ajitha Marath picked them up to drive them to their Air BnB, they were surprised to see what she had brought for them. “I was literally shocked and rather surprised to find Ajitha’s car loaded with food for us,” remarks Prathyusha.

WOW Ambassador: Dr. Rouba Fattal

Nominator: Shoq Sulaiman

You are Home Now

When the Syrian refugee crisis unfolded in 2015, Dr. Rouba Fattal, who had emigrated from Syria 25 years ago, knew she had to get involved in helping refugees from her homeland. “I was a member of the Rotary Club of Ottawa and went to our Chair to see if he could do something and…

WOW Ambassador: Mary-Martha Hale

Nominator: Hiba Omar

Dreaming of an Education

On their initial night in Canada in November 2016, when they stayed at Mary-Martha Hale’s house, the first English word Hiba Omar and her younger sister blurted out was “school.” Seven years ago, her family had fled war-torn Aleppo, and lived as refugees in Turkey for five years.

WOW Ambassador: Pastor Nova Musafiri

Nominator: Tblets Tesfalidet Tesfamariam

The Circle of Hope

Tblets Tesfalidet Tesfamariam will never forget December 8, 2016, the day she arrived in Ottawa. As she came down the escalator at Ottawa airport, she was greeted by her sister, Tgisti and members of the sponsorship group from the Grace Communion International Church of Ottawa-Gatineau,…

WOW Ambassador: Maurice White

Nominator: Ndusha Ruhune Freecare

Going to the Baseline for a Newcomer

In doubles tennis, when one teammate goes to the baseline for the other, it’s a way of supporting them in this fast-paced game. Maurice White, who shares a regular tennis game with Ndusha Ruhune Freecare, has often gone to the baseline for this newcomer.