Summer’s joyous activities in Strathcona Heights

Fatimazahra Mounfaloti

So much joy and warmth has been brought to the Strathcona Heights neighbourhood at the south end of Sandy Hill this summer. A resident leader is quoted as saying, “I believe the flame of change is in the community; its warmth will nurture the community, and its light will lead the path for the community through its most challenging times.”

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre would like to highlight some of the key activities that took place during the summertime in Strathcona Heights. Many partner organizations contributed to make each one of them a success:

• The Neighbourhood Capital Clean-up and Gathering Garden planting was held in May, with a turnout of almost 30 volunteers who participated in cleaning the neighbourhood in preparation for the outdoor season as well as a food-security-focused greening initiative, i.e., planting seeds for the Gathering Garden, a shared garden space where the community members are encouraged to come and harvest.

• In June as part of the Welcoming Ottawa Week, organized by the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership, SHCHC held an event celebrating newcomers. Some of the newcomers were from educational partner organizations, including Viscount Alexander Public School and Ecole élémentaire publique Francojeunesse. Several children participated in a short video documentary sharing things they like about Canada and things they miss about their home countries, in their preferred language. Volunteers from the community also helped organize the event by preparing an international buffet of meals from around the world. The event welcomed more than 150 community members and celebrated through many activities, including face painting, henna tattoos, and a live music performance from Empress Nyiringango.

• For the second year in a row, SHCHC, through its Community Development and Engagement team, held a six-week summer camp for children and youth in Strathcona Heights. The camp welcomed 60 participants between the ages of 6 and 14. Several neighborhood youth were employed as camp counsellors through the Youth Services Bureau employment program. Many more youth also volunteered throughout the summer, acquiring the mandatory volunteer hours for high school. Activities included, but were not limited to, visits to Dutchie’s Hole Wading Pool, Gatineau Park hikes, and MASC workshops. A special thanks to our partner organizations Viscount Alexander Public School, which provided the necessary space, and Multicultural Artists for Schools and Communities.

• Summer is not really summer without a movie in the park. In early August, the SHCHC held a movie night in Duchie’s Hole Park, which featured the Super Mario Bros. Shout-out to the Sandy Hill Community Centre for the use of their popcorn machine and the City of Ottawa for supporting the necessary logistics in obtaining a permit.

• At the end of August, SHCHC partnered with multiple organizations, including The Parent Resource Centre, the Boys and Girls Club—through the Neighbourhood Ambassadors Program, The Ottawa Public Library, Prana Shanti, Ottawa Community Housing, and the City of Ottawa—in staging the second annual Strathcona Heights Fun Day. The event engaged more than 200 residents around a community BBQ and other activities such as seniors yoga, face painting, henna tattoos, an inflatable playing area for children, and a youth basketball tournament. Once again, community residents deserve thanks for their commitment in volunteering to help make this event a success.

Photo montage: SHCHC