What's New? February 2016

In this issue: * Project update, * On our Board, * Coming events -- March and April arrivals, Film Festival, Vesak Day, * What we need, * Tibetan community news, * Parliamentary Friends of Tibet

Project update

Since fall 2013, we have welcomed and assisted 62 Ottawa-sponsored Tibetans. Of these we have lost nine to Toronto and Alberta, where they moved to take jobs. When the next 18 newcomers arrive in March and April, we will have welcomed a total of 80 for resettlement in Ottawa! The final 16 are waiting in India to clear various parts of the process, which is supposed to be complete by May 11. That will make a grand total of 96.

Our finances are in good shape as we enter this final phase of our project.  Our cash expenses per person are rising, as expected, because we had to begin paying the rent for some apartments. But earlier arrivals continue to help provide housing for newcomers when they can.  And our special appeal to help pay the rent for new arrivals, which sought to raise $15,600 over the last several months, exceeded our goal by almost $3,000!

Many thanks to all our supporters!  Your help is most appreciated.

On our Board 

Gyaltsok has taken on the role of Newcomer Housing Coordinator. He works with the Tibetans already in Ottawa to find out who might be able to house the Tibetans yet to arrive and creates a housing plan for them. Gyaltsok arrived with the first group of Tibetans in November 2013.  See below for news on Gyaltsok's other activities.


Rajiv Muradia, who has played many roles in TRPO, is also contributing to our housing strategy by keeping records of where everyone lives and at what rent. This data, together with survey information obtained on the Tibetans’ housing needs and preferences, is crucial in deciding what kind of housing we want to encourage or, if necessary, rent. The cost of some of the current rental units is creeping up as their buildings are upgraded. This is especially hard on families with children, because the number of earners living in the apartment is limited.

Tracey Filby has volunteered to work with Sarah Hafez as employment co-lead. She is currently an HR officer for ATS Services Ltd., a national organization headquartered in Ottawa. Tracey earned her Honours in Sociology from the University of Ottawa, and studied Human Resources Management at Algonquin college. Her experience has been working for various private sector organizations handling recruitment and staffing. This experience has provided her with inside knowledge of what employers are looking for in new hires and how best to approach the job hunt and application process. Tracey has been working with Sarah to identify available language training and job opportunities, as well as working with local connections to develop job opportunities. Also an Ottawa native, Tracey enjoys spending time with her family and young children.

Coming events - Hold the dates!

Upcoming arrivals: March 3rd (8 Tibetans) and April 7th (10 Tibetans)

Please join us to create a warm welcome for these newcomers to Ottawa and Canada. On March 3 at 17:16 we will greet two families who are relatives of Tibetans who arrived earlier. One family has three children aged 15, 12 and 6 and the other brings us a two-year-old toddler.

On April 7 at 18:13 we will welcome another family with a child of 7, a couple without children, three single men and 2 single women.

Sunday, March 20: Ottawa Tibet Film Festival

The 2016 Festival is at the Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, noon to 8:30 p.m. The focus is on the environment in modern Tibet. The line-up so far includes Embrace, about the strong connection between environment and religion; Pad Yatra, a Green Odyssey, a 700-person clean-up trek into the Himalayas; and Plundering Tibet, the effects of China's mining industry in Tibet. The final program will be out soon and published on the OTFF website (http://ottawatibetfilmfestival.com)

Saturday, May 7: Vesak Day at City Hall, 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Celebrated by practicing Buddhists around the world, Vesak is a day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. In Ottawa, Vesak and Asian Heritage Day will promote equality, peace and reconciliation in our community and the world. This free event will also feature cultural performances and art displays from Ottawa’s Asian communities.  Our photo is of Vesak Day in 2015. See https://vesakinottawa.wordpress.com for further details.

What we need – not much right now!

The In-kind Committee has the furnishing of two apartments for early March well in hand. Special thanks once again, to Jean Corriveau of Obasan for providing the beds needed. At present, we are not accepting any new items because we have run out of storage space. However, the Committee will issue a call for items once the arrival schedule of the remaining newcomers is known. Thank you to everyone who has responded to our appeals in the past.

Tibetan Community News

A baby!

A wonderful event, the birth of the first child among the Ottawa Tibetan newcomers, was celebrated in mid-January. Tsering Tsamchoe and Tenzin Tsering (Mala) were blessed with a baby boy whom they have named Tenzin Phaknor. He becomes the first Canadian citizen for Ottawa’s new Tibetan community. Congratulations to the proud parents!

Tibetan language school opens

The Ottawa Tibetan Community Association has been instrumental in setting up a Saturday-morning Tibetan language school at Queen Mary Street Public School. The program is being run under the International Languages Coordinator at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board. The school, with input from the OTCA Parents’ Committee, has selected Gyaltsok, a TRPO-supported Tibetan and former high school principal, to run the school. The Parents’ Committee will be very involved with the school by, for example, providing curriculum materials. The TRPO Board is very supportive of this initiative, even as its own focus remains the improvement of newcomers' English for their day-to-day needs and jobs.

Losar-inspired shop window display

Long-time TRPO supporters Tom Lee and Fiona Sant are world travellers who made a trek to Tibet in 2010, visiting Lhasa, Shigatze, Gyantse and Eversest Base Camp North.  Tom owns and runs Troubadour Books and Records at 508 Bank Street (one block north of Catherine  Street).  Fiona creates a different window dispay for the store each month.  To celebrate Losar (Tibetan New Year) this year, she has created a Tibet-inspired window. If you can, stop by and see the display, which will be up all month.  Why not stop in and pick up a book or record, or two!

New executive for Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet

On January 27, the new executive members of the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of Tibet were elected. MP Arif Virani (LIB, Parkdale-High Park, ON) was chosen as Chair. Mr. Virani came to Canada as a Ugandan-Asian refugee in 1972. His professional background includes extensive experience in constitutional law and human rights. He now serves as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. The new Vice Chairs are James Maloney (LIB, Etobicoke-Lakeshore, ON); Garnett Genuis (CPC, Sherwood Park – Fort Saskatchewan, SK); and Randall Garrison (NDP, Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke, BC). More information.

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