Inside the Walls of Language Learning

Originally published at

The reception room is filled with overflowing shelves of brochures about employment and social services. One poster shouts bolded greetings in multiple languages. A few women in colourful headscarves are waiting in line and a man wearing a winter coat despite the warm fall-like temperature passes by. In the hallways, you can hear the hard R’s of Arabic, lyrical words of a romantic language and others I don’t recognize.

In one classroom, teacher Sharon Benson is giving an animated explanation of ridings and candidates in the federal election. None of the students are citizens so they can’t vote, but they’re still eager to learn. Benson asks the group what election issues they care about.

“To pay my rent!” says a man named Emmanuel.

“Being a citizen,” shouts someone else.

“To bring my family here!” yells another, greeted by enthusiastic head nods.
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What made me stay?

The front lines of Canada’s Immigration Policies

Originally published at


(Photo Provided)

Rupert Yeung’s office walls hold colourful paintings lined with Chinese characters and picture frames with smiling people of all races. Bookshelves are packed with thick binders and a Canadian flag peaks out from the corner of the room.

Yeung, a social worker with the Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre, OCCSC, works in family counseling, immigrant sponsorship and settling newcomers into the community. He admits it’s a heavy job, gesturing around the room as if the lack of desk space and busy walls is an indication. Continue reading

Treasure Hunt at May Court Bargain Box

Print article originally published in IMAGE.

Every Monday, the line extends out the door at the May Court Bargain Box on Laurier Avenue. There are students, seniors and parents alike all waiting to get their eyes on the shop’s new weekly stock of donations.

“It’s just like a treasure hunt,” said Helen Marjos, a May Court volunteer at the shop. “I’ll browse through when it opens and often people will come to the counter and come up with these wonderful things and I think: where did they find these?”

The cozy shop is lined with shelves of kitchenware, books, knick-knacks and closets worth of second-hand clothing, all donated from May Court members and people in the community. The leftover clothing is then donated to the Youth Services Bureau, the Ottawa Mission and Clothing for Charity. Continue reading