I’m really impressed with the level of energy and commitment around the Health and Wellbeing table and look forward to continuing collaboration between OLIP and OPH.

Marcela Tapia
Ottawa Public Health
In our city’s history, immigrants have always played an important role. They build our economic prosperity, diversify our culture, contribute to our social vitality.

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa
The WOW seminar on immigrant women’s nutrition and health was a step in the right direction towards closing the gap between academic researchers and service providers.

Josephine Etowa
Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Ottawa
The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre is so happy to have joined the OLIP Health and Wellbeing Sector Table. It is clear that OLIP cares about immigrants and refugees and…

Wendy Tang, Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. Welcoming Ottawa Week offers a platform for Ottawa residents to celebrate both this…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
Welcoming Ottawa Week is wonderful platform to demonstrate our city’s longstanding openness to immigration and commitment to supporting newcomers’ successful integration. …

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa

Long-time Ottawa Resident “Pays it Forward” to Another Immigrant

Rebecca WarehamNasser El-Batal immigrated to Canada from war-torn Lebanon in 1984. Although he had a university degree from his home country, he worked in construction, drove a taxi and was a carpet layer for his first few years in Ottawa.  He knows first-hand the heartache and roller coaster ride that life as a newcomer can entail. He remembers the sadness of not being able to return to his home country and being separated from family and friends.

“When you arrive in a new country, often you are just splashing in water and not yet swimming,” explains Nasser. “It took me close to 15 years to feel at home, to integrate and develop my business.”

So when he met Hassan Gardesh, an immigrant from Iran, he felt he had an opportunity to “pay it forward”. Others had helped him in his journey towards integration and now it was his turn to give back.

Currently the co-owner of a successful IT service management company, Nasser met Hassan for an informal interview after receiving his job application. He saw that Hassan had great professional skills and eventually hired him as a contractor.

“Nasser is not only a successful entrepreneur, but also a goodhearted person,” said Hassan. “His attitudes of trust, openness and honesty helped me to get my first contract job in Canada and I owe him so much gratitude.”

“Newcomers often don’t have business contacts when they arrive in Canada or understand the maze of business structures we have,” adds Nasser who also walked Hassan through the process of setting up his own business. “It was personally satisfying to help him take his first steps in the Canadian business world.”

Hassan recently moved to Vancouver, where he is a successful consultant. Although they live on other sides of the country, Hassan and Nasser continue to work together occasionally. And when Nasser is in Vancouver, they get together socially. They are not only colleagues, but have become good friends. Nasser paid it forward and gained a new friend in the process.