Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Jewish-Somali Mentorship Project attracts Mentors in Ottawa
On Wednesday, June 16, 2010, professionals from the Jewish community in Ottawa participated in the Canadian International Peace Project's mentor information session of the Ottawa phase of the Jewish-Somali Mentorship Program at the Machzikei Hadas Congregation. Over forty enthusiastic members from different professional fields attended the session where they heard Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, The Hon. Jason Kenney, praise the program and described it as "the single most important project for my Ministry."
CIPP Governor, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, shared his thoughts about the Project and stated that "this could arguably be a watershed project," which leads to more social cohesion in Canada.
The Ottawa event was organized Mark Zarecki, Director of Jewish Family Services in Ottawa and Monica Kugelmass, the Director of Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism, who chaired the event. Ms Kugelmass is also a mentor in the project. The Hon. Irwin Cotler was unable to attend because of another committment but has volunteered to be a Mentor in the Project.
The information session was a huge success given the high number of individuals who are willing to sign on in order to become mentors to the large number of mentees who have already signed up.
The Canadian International Peace Project recognizes the critical importance of providing mentoring to the Canadian Somali community - a severely economically and socially disadvantaged community in Canada. According to a study conducted by a number of agencies in Ottawa, approximately 84% of the Canadian Somali community is under 30 years of age.
The Canadian Somali community is the largest African Diaspora community and one of the largest Muslim communities in Canada. It lacks a critical mass of professionals that can mentor Somali university, college and young professionals. This has necessitated the need to ask the assistance of other communities to address this important need. The Jewish community has generously responded and other communities are being encouraged to assist.
The goal of the Jewish-Somali Mentorship Project is to aid in the creation of a successful cadre of Canadian-Somali professionals who can assume greater leadership roles to assist with the development of their community as well as contribute to Canadian society at large.
This is the first time in Canada or anywhere else in the world that the Jewish community and a large Muslim community are working so closely together at a national level.
"This mentorship project is so greatly needed in the Canadian-Somali community and it will serve as as a model for other communities around the world." according to Iman Salah, who is a York University student and summer intern at the Canadian International Peace Project. Ms Salah is also a mentee in the Project.
The Canadian International Peace Project (CIPP) is a novel and unique non-partisan organization that has brought together diverse groups and individuals to work on issues and projects relating to local, national, and international peace, security and development. Through partnership on events and projects, the CIPP fosters mutual respect and sustainable relationships among diverse groups including those in conflict with each other.