What's New? March 2015
In this issue: *Successful landings *2015-2016 Arrivals *Financing shortage for 2016 *Volunteers we need *In-Kind donations needed *Special thanks to donors *Employment and ESL *Housing *Ottawa Tibetan Community Association *Ottawa Tibet Film Festival *Arrival of TRPO’s first Tibetans celebrated
The 30 Tibetans who have settled in Ottawa are receiving praise from many sides for their remarkable achievements. They are all working and living in their own rented apartments. They are all supporting themselves, after receiving only minimal assistance from TRPO, thus allowing us to go further with our original funding. They are active contributors to fundraising for Tibetan causes. This is a very strong foundation for the coming year!
2015 – 2016 Arrivals
So far this year we have welcomed one Tibetan and two more are landing on April 1. With some future arrivals delayed and others moved into 2016, our challenge has become settling 54 people, including 13 children, by April 2016. Their interviews are underway in India with arrivals expected in groups of between two and ten approximately every two months beginning this May. The families with children from infants to high-school age present challenges we have not yet encountered and will need our special attention in the areas of housing, schools and language training.
Ottawa’s Tibetan community and TRPO volunteers welcome Dawa Tsering
at the Ottawa airport on February 5, 2015
Financing shortage for 2016
Due to the remarkable generosity of our supporters, the financing for the 2015 arrivals is in place. But the financing for the 2016 newcomers is $35,000 short. Our fundraising efforts will shortly move into high gear for this sum, which will allow us to complete the sponsorship process for the Ottawa arrivals. If you are in a position to contribute any amount, you can do so online via the Catholic Centre for Immigrants Foundation and selecting Tibetan Resettlement Project Ottawa (TRPO) from the pull-down menu just under the "Donation Amount."
Volunteers we need
In addition to replenishing our coffers, the project has need of people to help with our work.
- Housing We urgently need a couple of volunteers to act as co-leads on housing on our Board. We are hoping two of our readers will feel able to step forward.
- Mentors We are continuing to seek “mentors” to help future arrivals settle into the Ottawa community. A mentor orientation session will be provided, which will include the participation of earlier arrivals and existing mentors. Have a look at the article in the November 2014 newsletter that describes what mentors do and consider helping our project in this rewarding role. (Contact us.)
- Treasurer A review of Board operations conducted by Tricia Mason recommends that we seek a treasurer from outside the existing executive committee. If you can help, contact TRPO chair Cornelius von Baeyer.
It is no small effort to gather everything needed to clothe and house a single person; multiply that by 54 and you’ll appreciate the scope of our current task. But we have much to be thankful for. You will read below about two exceptionally generous sources of things we need for arriving Tibetans. However, this doesn’t mean we don’t need your continuing contributions!
Special thanks to donors:
- Manjushri Buddhist Centre, the Tibetan Cultural Association of Quebec and the Montreal Vietnamese community
Support for the Ottawa’s arriving Tibetans is coming from as far as Montreal! Thuy-San Bui and Gabriel Ménard-Cajolais, who happened to be present at the last Ottawa Friends of Tibet fundraising dinner, both work for the federal public service in Ottawa and commute to Montreal every weekend as they are active members of the Manjushri Buddhist Centre in Longueuil, managed by Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Jamyang and Geshe Norbu Phuntsok.
Photo (left to right): Geshe Norbu Phuntsok, Gabriel Ménard-Cajolais and Thuy-San Bui.
After attending the fundraising dinner, they spread the news about the Ottawa newcomers’ needs to the members of the Manjushri Buddhist Centre, the Tibetan Cultural Association of Quebec and the Montreal Vietnamese community. The response received was simply spectacular!
During their weekly commute back to Ottawa, Thuy-San and Gabriel have delivered bags and bags of donations containing winter apparel, blankets, towels, cookware and other home accessories. Furthermore, the donors are ready to gather things for the 13 children who are expected over the next 12 months.
Many Montreal Tibetans remember that there was no support system for them when they arrived in Canada. They arrived with nothing but the clothes on their backs and experienced great difficulties in the beginning. As a result, they are extremely happy to support the newly arrived Tibetans to settle more easily into their new life in Canada.
- Obasan mattress factory
A thirty year-old Ottawa company is proving to be a special friend of TPRO. After hiring newcomer Chime Palden several months ago, founder-owner of the Obasan mattress factory (www.obasan.ca), Jean Corriveau, recently offered a position to Tsering Dolkar.
In February, Mr Corriveau offered to donate many new mattresses and frames for newcomers expected in 2015. This comes as a huge relief to TRPO’s In-Kind Donations Committee because mattresses are the single most difficult donation to find. When Gisèle Morin-Labatut visited the Obasan factory on Colonnade Road to meet Mr. Corriveau on behalf of the In-Kind Donations Committee, she was taken on a tour of the bright, clean, and virtually dust-free premises where she was able to see both Chime and Tsering hard at work, but obviously comfortable enough to stop and chat for a few minutes. Mr. Corriveau has made a point of hiring newcomers, and the staff represent a mini United Nations.
Obasan’s commitment to quality and environmental protection is reflected in the the mattresses, foundations and accessories produced on the site, which are made of organic wool, rubber and cotton, as well as Canadian wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. TRPO is most grateful to Obasan for this generous and helpful donation.
Employment and ESL
Employment is a particular challenge – some 40 jobs are needed for the new arrivals. The Tibetans who have already arrived are becoming increasingly active in helping to find work for new arrivals. The emphasis is on entry-level jobs that will allow the individual to become self-supporting. We really appreciate any leads or suggestions you might have (Contact us!)
As a result of the speed with which the newcomers have found jobs, they have had to forego the English-as-a-Second-Language courses we feel are so very important for their long-term success. Our new strategy is to establish evening conversation groups. If you can help with this initiative, or with finding employment, or as “leads” for either on our board, we’d love to hear from you!
We are working with the newcomers who have already arrived to identify housing options for the new arrivals. We are moving away from the idea of finding short-term host housing in the community for all new arrivals. Instead, we will consolidate housing at 1240/1244 Donald Street. New arrivals will live rent-free for the first two months in these new or currently rented apartments. TRPO will assist financially where needed.
Ottawa Tibetan Community Association
Last June, we reported that the Ottawa Tibetan Community Association (OTCA) had been established. This not-for-profit organization preserves and promotes Tibetan culture, language, art and traditions. The Association credits TRPO with increasing the Tibetan population of Ottawa to the point where an association was needed!
Ottawa Tibet Film Festival
Saturday, March 21st at St. Paul University.
This year marks the third Tibetan Film Festival and the first organized by the new Ottawa Tibetan Community Association. It raises awareness about Tibet’s culture, religion, and people and provides a platform for filmmakers from around the world to showcase their films about Tibet.
The festival will showcase Tibetan filmmakers from Canada, New York, and Tibet. A total of five films bring together the idea of home, Tibetan reincarnations, an animated folk tale, the preservation of the Tibetan language and a road trip through Tibet. See more information.
Forty percent of the profits will be donated to our resettlement project so please come on out for some great films, education and silent auction bargains. If you have anything you can contribute to our auction, contact Dolma at 613-415-6883 or email@example.com.
Arrival of TRPO’s first Tibetans celebrated
A delicious sit-down dinner was provided by the newcomers as a thank-you to mentors and employers, housing hosts and TRPO board members, as well as other contributors to the resettlement project. Cornelius von Baeyer, TRPO Chair, was honoured with a beautiful thangka painting as a thank-you from the group for his hard work. Numerous others received khata scarves in thanks for their invaluable contributions.
Speeches described the origins of the national Project Tibet Society and the local Tibetan Resettlement Project Ottawa. The audience enjoyed a video compilation of photos of the group’s first year. After the video, each of the first 11 newcomers was given a keychain with the TRPO logo on it. One of TRPO’s most recent newcomers sang Tibetan and Hindi songs to his own guitar accompaniment.
To close the evening, everyone participated in traditional Tibetan dances, and later some Bollywood dancing! A fitting anniversary celebration for an eventful first year!
If you can contribute to our work in any way, please call or write. Consider joining our team of volunteers.
And many, many thanks to you all!
Phone: (613) 730-6442