Ottawa Muslims raise $12K for school with large Syrian refugee population
Money will fund outings, science projects and maybe even that 'truly Canadian' experience — a ski trip
Ottawa's Muslim community has donated $12,000 to fund field trips and other activities at an east-end public elementary school with a large number of Syrian refugee students.
Carson Grove Elementary School has welcomed 110 Syrian refugee children since February, accounting for more than one-third of the student population.
This was my introduction to Canada. It was the place where I integrated, the public school. And I cannot over-emphasize how important it is for kids.- Sheema Khan
Several mosques and Muslim associations banded together to raise the money, plus an additional $11,000 to be donated to other schools in Ottawa whose students are dealing with socio-economic hardships.
The fundraising was spearheaded by Sheema Khan, a Kanata woman who said she decided to help after being reminded of her own experience as a young immigrant in the Canadian public school system.
Public schools 'introduction to Canada'
"I was very emotional because it reminded me of when I came … I went to a school just like this," said Khan.
"This was my introduction to Canada. It was the place where I integrated, the public school. And I can not over-emphasize how important it is for kids," she said.
Khan said donations came from ordinary Muslims across Ottawa and Gatineau who want to give back to the community.
"So many of us either came here as immigrants and went through the public school system, or they have kids in the public school system. And just the idea [that] children in Ottawa, no matter what background, may not have the same start, or the same opportunities …That seemed a little unfair," said Khan.
Money will fund field trips, science fair projects
The money will be used to help students go on field trips to such local destinations as the Central Experimental Farm and the National Arts Centre It will also help with in-school activities such as concerts and science projects, according to Carson Grove principal Irene Cameron.
"They have one foot in one culture, and now they have the other foot in the Canadian culture," said Cameron, after receiving the $12,000 cheque on Wednesday.
"In many cases, because of the fact that they're just new, many opportunities are not available for them. So here at the school is where the opportunities can be made for them … We'd like to take the children downhill skiing, because that's something that's truly Canadian," she said.