Ottawa Muslims Raise $23,000 to Help Public Schools

How do you introduce someone to Canada? Would you make them a s’more on a camping trip, give them a ski lesson or buy them a used pair of skates?

Thanks to a fundraising effort from the United Muslim Organizations of Ottawa-Gatineau, one school will be able to offer those first-time experiences to over a hundred Syrian children who started school this year in east Ottawa.

“They have one foot in one culture and another in the Canadian culture,” said Irene Cameron, principal of Carson Grove Elementary School. “They see what’s going on but in many cases – because of the fact that they’re new – those opportunities are not available for them.”

“They need to see and feel what Canada is like,” she added.

Carson Grove, like many other schools in Ottawa outside of the wealthier neighbourhoods, doesn’t have a volunteer school council that raises extra funds.

When the school had an influx of new students, the school sent out an e-mail plea to the wider Ottawa community for fundraising help.

When Sheema Khan read the email, she was transported back to the 1965 – when she first came to Montreal as child from India.

“It reminded me of all the wonderful memories I had – this was my introduction to Canada. I cannot overemphasize how important it is for kids, their sense of who they are, their belonging, their sense of identity, to be in a school like Carson Grove. School is a happy place,” said Khan, who is part of the Kanata Muslim Association and helped mobilize the community to raise $23,000.

Half of the money will go to Carson Grove, while the other half will help other schools in the OCDSB.

Funds will support special experiences like buying used skates to help the newcomers try out the municipal skating rink next door to the school. They’ll also fund field trips, concerts, science projects and special activities.

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