March 26, 2007
Ottawa – On March 24, 2007, the Karen Community of Ottawa – K.C.O. held a successful general meeting and election at the Bronson Centre. Fifty people including the Honourable Paul Dewar MP, City of Ottawa, Church Pastor, and agencies serving immigrants and youth attended the meeting.
The aim of the meeting was to introduce the agencies and supporters to the Karen newcomers, and to elect new Karen leaders to work for the Karen community in the future.
The MP, City Hall, and the agencies made presentations to the Karen newcomers in the first part of the meeting. The Karen then met to hold a general election.
To provide the newcomers with the opportunity to build and serve a community here, most of the elected positions were filled by the Karen new to Ottawa, with the support of the long term Karen residents. According to Blal Htoo "We want the Karen newcomers to take up the positions and we will be helping them." He also referred to the fact that most of the on hand community members were busy with their jobs.
"I am so glad to see the support from our MP, Councillor Diane Holme's office and other agencies. I felt stronger to continue working for our community development." said Lay Lay Nwe, one of the Karen community members. She continued, "The Karen newcomers are fortunate to have agencies that are helping them." Referring to her own situation when she landed here in 1994, she stated that she had to get help from a Vietnamese interpreter.
According to Law Doh Thaw, who arrived in Ottawa late last year and is the newly elected Chair, "A new community is like a young child in its beginning years. Even as children are growing up, they still need support." He thanked the agencies for their efforts and appealed for ongoing support to help the Karen Community.
The meeting was adjoined following a speech by the new Chair, a feeling of success and a strong resolve to move forward was apparent. It is the beginning of a new chapter for the Karen people in Ottawa.
The community would like to thank Centretown MP, the Honourable Paul Dewar, City of Ottawa Councillor Diane Holmes, Jeffrey Kaeys, Ottawa Community Immigrants Services Ottawa, Catholic Immigration Centre, Bromley Road Baptist Church, The Door – Youth Centre, friend and advisor, Coleen Scott, Volunteers Barbara Wright, and Sally Mooney.