Caring for Community

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About: Caring for Community

The Community Safety and Well-Being Plan has six priorities. We invite you to learn more about them in the words of people who work in roles that serve the community. These individuals contribute to the plan’s progress every day. We hope through these stories you will learn more about existing services and how to access them. 

Stay engaged by signing up for our e-newsletter to receive the latest information on the plan! 

Discrimination, marginalization and racism

Equity for everyone

Sawsan Al-Refaei: City of Ottawa, Anti-Racism, Women and Gender Equity Branch

Due to historical and cultural biases, men’s perspectives often influence public services. This is why Sawsan’s work matters. She inspires and advises the City to develop services informed by the experiences and needs of women and gender-diverse people.  

This approach stems from the City’s Women and Gender-Equity Strategy. It is one of the pioneer strategies in Canada that address women and gender issues comprehensively. 

Sawsan works with her colleagues across the City to bring this strategy to life. For them, this is more than a job; it’s their passion. They want a city where everyone takes part, everyone thrives, everyone feels at home. They're building a city where every person has equitable access to services. They’re fulfilling the strategy’s vision to create a diverse and safe city for residents from all gender groups. 

For more information, visit: Women and gender equity strategy

Sawsan Al-Refaei
Sawsan Al-Refaei

"We can’t have high-quality services without gender equity. Thankfully, I can see the fruits of my work every day."

Education for Inclusion 

Rajen Doobay: City of Ottawa, Anti-Racism Advisory Table

Rajen is at the heart of efforts to make Ottawa a more inclusive place for everyone to live, work and play. A social justice educator, he advises the City on anti-racism practices. He also helps build this awareness into the City’s strategies, policies and plans. 

He talks to people. Asks questions. Listens deeply. “If there is a universal answer to racism, it is empathy, it's understanding, it's human dignity.” 

This approach is core to the City's Anti-Racism Strategy, to which Rajen contributed. He worked alongside many other residents, community organizations and partners. The strategy contributes to the City of Ottawa’s vision for full participation, inclusion and a sense of belonging for all residents in Ottawa.

For more information, visit: City of Ottawa Anti-Racism Strategy

Rajen Doobay
Rajen Doobay

"We fight racism with education. It’s our best tool.  That’s what we all need."

Financial security and poverty reduction

Uplifting women

Anta Niang and Olga Bindutiye: Up With Women 

Olga and Anta believe every woman deserves to reach her full potential. They also think the City has the responsibility to help. This conviction is the inspiration behind Up With Women.  

The program supplies a full year of customized employment coaching, mentorship, entrepreneurship training, skill development plus peer and group support. Its recipients are women and gender-diverse people who earn a regular income but live around or below the poverty line. Up With Women helps them realize their potential. Find their own voice. Get meaningful work. Embark on stable careers. 

Olga builds partnerships with community groups. Anta supports members themselves. The two rely on each other to help women overcome barriers, regain confidence and build lives of their own design. 

For more information, visit: Up With Women

Anta Niang and Olga Bindutiye
Anta Niang and Olga Bindutiye

"It’s giving women their voices again, their power again, the ability to think for themselves again, so they can participate in the economy and create great things."

Tools for success 

Kenneth Campbell and Gelila Geremew: Jaku Konbit 

Being a young entrepreneur is a tough job. But with the right support, success is possible. Kenneth and Gelila understand this. They make it easier for Ottawa’s youth to become successful entrepreneurs.  

Kenneth and Gelila work at Jaku Konbit in Ottawa. He is the President and she is the Youth Assistant Administrator. 

The not-for-profit offers a Black Youth Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program. Young people in this program get the tools that help them turn their aspirations into viable businesses. 

Kenneth and Gelila create opportunities. They help break down barriers to entrepreneurship. They help make the connections. They make information accessible. They want our future generations to prosper, to be financially secure. 

For more information, visit: Jaku Konbit

Kenneth Campbell and Gelila Geremew
Kenneth Campbell and Gelila Geremew

"A lot of these youth aspire to business, but they struggle to take it to the next level. Our entrepreneur program provides them what they need to do so."

Gender-based violence and violence against women

Strength of silent support 

Carina Maggiore: Unsafe at Home Ottawa 

How do you ask for help without making any noise? You can’t pick up the phone. You can’t speak with someone online. You can’t have someone come to your door. 

One in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence, according to the U.N. Only 40 per cent of survivors seek help. "The pandemic saw a decline in people making phone calls. It wasn’t because violence stopped. It was because the abusers were at home," confirmed Carina. 

Unsafe at Home enables women and members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community in Ottawa and Lanark County to raise their voices and be heard. The organization provides survivors of gender-based violence with emotional support, safety plans, resources and referrals through a confidential and secure chat service, free to use and available online or via text.  

Unsafe at Home builds up the strategic goals of the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan to provide alternate ways of reporting violence and to ensure that every survivor can access necessary services and supports to recover, heal and thrive.

 For more information, visit:

Carina Maggiore
Carina Maggiore

"There are services to help survivors lead better lives. They deserve happiness, safety and respect."

Just be you

Carling Miller and Jade Peek: Kind Space  

2SLGBTQ+ serving organizations play essential roles in combating sexual and gender-based violence. Jade Peek and Carling Miller from Kind Space understand this well. 

Jade is Director of Operations and Carling is the Executive Director. The community centre celebrates people of all sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. It is a safe space. It is a place for accessible resources, events, social and educational programming. It is a place to just be you.   

For Carling, Kind Space has always been a place where she felt cared for, respected and listened to. Jade finds motivation in the ever-changing needs of Ottawa's 2SLGBTQ+ community. They agree that the best way to fight violence and end stigma is education. “Today, people are more accepting of 2SLGBTQ+ issues. But we need to do better, educate and work alongside young people.” 

For more information, visit: Kind Space

Carling Miller and Jade Peek
Carling Miller and Jade Peek

"Kind Space is a place of refuge. We are a place of respite. We are a space of knowledge mobilization. We are a home away from home."


Engaging community

Jessica Patterson and Kent Hugh: City of Ottawa, Community Engagement Team

Jessica and Kent are members of the small but mighty Community Engagement Team. They do exactly what their name states. They engage. Walking city streets. Listening to people they meet. Learning about their challenges and concerns. Building relationships of respect, understanding and care. And then steering people to community services — shelter, employment, meals, recreation and healthcare. 

They take in the entire community. Residents who are housed and unhoused. Those at risk of being unhoused. Business owners. Community associations. Visitors. 

Jessica and Kent know they and their team have many more miles to walk. They carry on with hope, joy and a fierce desire to reduce the fear, counter the blame and end the stigma associated with homelessness. 

For more information, call:

3-1-1 or 613-580-2400

  • Select 1 for English or 2 for service in French
  • Select 4 for Social Services
  • TTY: 1-800-855-0511 (Bell Relay)
  • Toll-Free: 1-866-261-9799 (Outside of Ontario)

2-1-1 for information on all government and community-based health and social service supports 

Jessica Patterson and Kent Hugh
Jessica Patterson and Kent Hugh

"Everyone deserves dignity and respect. We are building a stronger community for all by using a collaborative approach to make sure everyone has access to food, employment, recreation, mental well-being and housing."

Passion for Service

Christine Amaro: City of Ottawa, Rent Supplement Program  

Everyone deserves a safe place to call home. Christine certainly thinks so. She coordinates the City’s efforts to help low- and moderate-income households with housing costs. 

These efforts are part of the Rent Supplement Program. Christine and her colleagues administer the Rent-Geared-to-Income support and the Housing Allowance Benefit across the city. These programs are critical to helping low and moderate-income families maintain stable housing. They also help to meet the goals of the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan

 Christine started her career as a receptionist with the office more than 20 years ago. She has enjoyed a steady rise since. The secret of Christine’s career success is straightforward. She stays humble. She doesn’t judge or talk down to anyone. She treats everyone the way she would want to be treated. She is a public servant in the truest sense of the term — a servant of the public.

For more information:

  1. Visit: Housing 
  2. Call 3-1-1 or 613-580-2400
    • Select 1 for English or 2 for service in French
    • Select 4 for Social Services
    • TTY: 1-800-855-0511 (Bell Relay)
    • Toll-Free: 1-866-261-9799 (Outside of Ontario)
  3. Email:
Christine Amaro
Christine Amaro

"Our goal is to end homelessness. I wish there was a home for everyone."

Mental well-being

Right care, right time

Andrea​ Burnett​ and Natasha​ Holtz​:, CHEO 

“Thank you for talking.”  

“I went to school today.” 

“She is still alive.” 

These may be simple words to some. For Andrea and Natasha, these are small victories that make their jobs worthwhile. They both work for 1C​all​1C​​, a service that connects children, youth and families with the right mental health, substance use services and care when they need it. 

The need for this kind of resource has never been greater.​ “COVID-19 and the rise of social media have harmed many people's mental health.​​ Many kids struggle with social anxiety.​ More teens can’t seem to disconnect from their devices. More parents need advice on how to deal with their children getting bullied.” Andrea and Natasha know that personal connection is essential to good care. That’s why they show up, day in and day out, determined to give their community what it needs. 

1C​all​1C​​’s mission is closely aligned to the goals of the Community Safety and Well Being​ ​P​lan​; specifically the commitment to improve access to mental well-being and substance use services.  

For more information, visit: 

Andrea Burnett and Natasha​ Holtz
Andrea Burnett and Natasha​ Holtz

"Everyone has had difficult times. It’s okay not to be okay. And it is ok to ask for help."

Reducing stigma 

Nuradiin Mohamud and Darshani Weerapura: Ottawa Public Health 

Darshani and Nuradiin ​​​​are project officers with Ottawa Public Health. Their passion? Mental health and community outreach. 

Darshani focuses on the South-Asian community. Nuradiin on the African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) residents. They both have an intimate understanding of these communities. They belong to them, too. They’ve seen first-hand the stigma that can surround mental health due to cultural biases.  

One project they see as a real response to the needs of their communities is Stigma: The Power of Language. Community leaders rely on the knowledge and skills they gain through this initiative to reduce stigma and strengthen resilience. The leaders are also able to show people where they can find help right in their neighbourhoods. 

For mental health resources, visit: Mental Health, Addictions, Substance Use Health and COVID-19 - Ottawa Public Health

Nuradiin Mohamud and Darshani Weerapura
Nuradiin Mohamud and Darshani Weerapura

"We see the fruits of our work—we see the stigma that surrounds it being reduced. We hope that one day everyone will recognize mental health as the number one priority."

Integrated and simpler systems

Good neighbours

Javier Clavelo Robinson and Rita Khavich: City of Ottawa, Community and Social Services 

Rita is a case worker at the Catherine Street Community Service Hub. Javier is a community development coordinator working for the Integrated Neighbourhood Services Team. They have one mission in common: to help people understand and access a complex web of government and community services. 

Increasing accessibility of City programs and services is one of the goals of the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. Rita and Javier are also working towards this goal. They are available. Ready to listen. Eager to share. Keen to help. Like good neighbours. 

Javier and the Integrated Neighbourhood Services Team promote programs and services in the community and closer to the residents who need them.   

Rita helps residents navigate the system from the Catherine Street Community Service Hub. There, people can access a wide range of services, including crisis support, housing support and financial and social assistance. Right where they live. No appointment needed.  

For more information, visit: Financial and social assistance

Javier Clavelo Robinson and Rita Khavich
Javier Clavelo Robinson and Rita Khavich

"Some people that come to see us are struggling through their darkest times. They’re happy to have someone to connect with, address their concerns and help them change their lives."

A work of love 

Abdigani Ahmed and Fanta Souare: BGC Ottawa, Neighbourhood Ambassador Program 

Fanta and Abdigani are all about spreading love. They are part of the Neighbourhood Ambassador Program team — a collaborative initiative managed by the BGC Ottawa (formerly Boys and Girls Club), Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa.  

To Fanta and Abdigani, love has many forms. It is access to housing. It is food security. It is mentoring. Sometimes it is just a safe space. “We do referrals, we connect youth to services. We are that someone who helps them figure it (the system) out.” 

The ambassadors are like big siblings for kids who may not have anyone else to turn to. They believe that the new generation needs a strong support network and more human-to-human interactions.  

For information, visit: Youth - Get Assistance

Abdigani Ahmed and Fanta Souare
Abdigani Ahmed and Fanta Souare

"I find it impossible to do the work we do without love for the people we serve, without love for our own community."