Did you know that Sandy Hill is home to one of the only Canadian communal residences for refugee women who arrive alone? Established in 2001, Carty House is a temporary home for 10 women, who are supported as they get their feet on the ground in their new home country. Carty House provides its residents with supports for education, counselling and services including language instruction, employment training, job search programs, health referrals and informational programs on Canadian culture and life. The women each have their own bedrooms but share everything else.
Navigating the pandemic has brought its own share of challenges. Seven of the residents lost their jobs. Some of the residents had to learn how to attend classes online. Our volunteers were diverted to provide ESL support via Zoom and other virtual platforms. And yet, the residents really took it in stride. They have been through plenty of hardships in their journeys to even make it to Canada, so they may be more resilient than some of the rest of us.
In the spring, CBC Ottawa came calling to learn more about how lesser-known populations were faring during the pandemic. Carty House decided that they needed to share good news, and ensure that their gratitude was the story. You can find the video and article online by searching CBC Ottawa refugee women or using this link: www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/refugee-women-support-covid19-ottawa-pandemic-1.5570812
The residents continue to socially distance as much as possible. This has given them a chance to walk the neighbourhood and learn more about the beauty of Sandy Hill. They have even had time to venture farther, and organized field trips to Mooney’s Bay, Westboro Beach, and Gatineau Park. Home life has also slowed down a bit as well, and has given the residents a chance to cook together and eat family meals with everyone present. That rarely happened before.
Thank you, Sandy Hill, for being the engaged and welcoming community that you are. If you are interested in learning more, feel free to find them online at www.CartyHouse.org as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The residents are filled with gratitude, and wish you and yours the loveliest of holiday seasons.