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Hanan Abu Laban receiving her award with Mayor Jim Watson and Welcoming Ottawa Week Chair Sarah Onyango Hanan Abu Laban receiving her award with Mayor Jim Watson and Welcoming Ottawa Week Chair Sarah Onyango Courtesy of Welcoming Ottawa Week

Hanan Abu Laban Honoured with 2018 Welcoming Ottawa Ambassador Award

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The Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP) is a multi-sectoral partnership involving 60 local organizations working on a shared vision and common priorities designed to build local capacity to attract, settle, and integrate immigrants in five sectors: settlement and orientation;  economic integration;  health and wellbeing; language training and interpretation; and  socio-civic integration.

OLIP runs Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW) each year. This is a week of events that enable participants – newcomers and long-term residents alike – to express themselves and to connect through fun and engaging experiences that can produce lasting impressions and relationships. WOW is a time when Ottawa residents can convey their genuine welcome to newcomers.

Introduced as part of WOW in 2014, the Welcoming Ottawa Ambassador Awards recognize Ottawa citizens who go out of their way to support newcomers in their daily efforts to make this city their new home.

Welcoming Ambassadors are individuals who, in interacting with immigrants or refugees, have demonstrated the human qualities of openness, positive curiosity, and the friendships and connections across differences that can be so enriching but difficult to realize in our busy lives.


When Hanan Abu-Laban, a charity director at the Ottawa Muslim Association, read a story about a woman in need on a local WhatsApp group, she knew she had to find a way to help her.

Hanan, a Community Affairs and Charity Director at the Ottawa Muslim Association, has dealt with similar cases in the past. Over the last 15 years, she has devoted her time in Ottawa to assist struggling newcomers and established residents find their place in the community. Her community work has often focused on helping vulnerable families and single mother households to find the services they require, often to meet their most basic needs.

For Houda, Hanan was much more than that. “Hanan was like an angel to me,” says Houda Amine, a single mother of three. “I was crying and I had no one to help me until Hanan came forward and gave my life joy again through her generosity and support. I will never forget this woman until I die!”

“I knew Houda was alone, so I did a quick plan to move her closer to our community in Ottawa, so we could provide her with all support needed to make her new life better,” explains Hanan.

In many ways, Hanan became the advocate that Houda needed. Houda has three very active young sons, one who experiences constant seizures. Hanan helped her find schools, daycare and specialized services for her sons.

“She is a good leader, role model and is capable of doing quick and efficient plans,” adds Houda. “Hanan gives me parenting advice and she helps me to find the resources for each of my challenges. I would like to thank Hanan and the Muslim community for the solidarity and always being there for me and my children.”

For Hanan her motivation is simple. “I have a passion for helping people. The reward is seeing a smile on someone’s face.”

Republished with permission from OLIP

Originally published online here

Read 2136 times Last modified on Thursday, 09 August 2018 16:02
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