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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
OLIP helps to unite and share scarce resources for greater impact by working together in the field of student education.

Walter Piovesan
Associate Director of Education, Ottawa Carleton District School Board
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
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
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 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
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
The target beneficiary of the work of OLIP is the whole community. In this short period we have planted together important seeds for Ottawa’s development.   

Dick Stewart
OLIP Council Chair
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

The Importance of Friendship to a Newcomer

Mustapha arrived in Ottawa in October 2016 with his 11 year-old son and spouse. Although he is fluent in English and well educated, he still has found the transition to a new home challenging at times.

“Immigration is a difficult process,” said Mustapha. “It’s not just packing your belongings and travelling to a new country. It’s about establishing a new life and environment and meeting new friends. It’s basically building a brand new life from scratch.”

Little did Mustapha know that opening a bank account two weeks after his arrival in suburban Ottawa would set him on a path towards adjusting to a new community and culture. When Claudine Revert-Gravel, Senior Financial Representative at the CIBC branch in Orleans overheard Mustapha saying he was a newcomer, she immediately offered to help.

Although she had assisted many immigrants with the paper work involved in opening up a bank account, she felt a kinship towards Mustapha as he shares the same profession as her husband. “I have travelled to Turkey three times and felt the incredible warmth and hospitality of the Turkish people,” explained Claudine. “I felt compelled to show Mustapha and his family the same welcome and positive experience I had in Turkey. People shouldn’t rely on stereotypes or what they see on television, because it’s truly fascinating to learn about different cultures.”

Claudine invited Mustapha and his family to her home for dinner. “We immediately felt part of a warm, welcoming Ottawa family,” added Mustapha. “Claudine is very kind and constantly asks if there is anything she can do for our family. She has a very warm, welcoming heart and soul. As we transition towards making Ottawa our home, her close friendship has really helped us to adjust to Canadian life. In many ways she feels like a sister to me.”

The friendship between the two families has continued to grow over the months with many dinners and introductions to other Ottawa friends. The introductions are opening doors that may help with Mustapha find employment. Claudine’s family has also met two other Turkish families through Mustapha.

Clearly both of these families are strengthened and enriched by their new friendship.