Join us in welcoming a new family to Halifax

We have super exciting news to share with you: we will soon be welcoming a Syrian-Kurdish family of four to Halifax!

This sponsorship – our third – has been made possible thanks to the incredible generosity of Lifeline Syria and their donors. Lifeline Syria has launched a new initiative to help private sponsorship groups across Canada resettle 100 Syrian refugees by the end of this year.

A big thanks to Lifeline Syria for this opportunity!

We’re very fortunate to have had such dedicated supporters and volunteers for our first two sponsorships. We really truly couldn’t have done it without you. And the same support and commitment will be needed for this new young family – a husband and wife, and their 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter – as we help them start their new life in Canada and fundraise for any additional needs. Watch this space for more details over the coming days and weeks to find out how you can get involved!

Trivia night at Freeman’s Fairview

Our last trivia night was such a success we decided to do it again!

Join us for a fun evening at Freeman’s Fairview on Wednesday, August 15, where you and your friends will be put to the test – all in the name of raising money for Open Harbour’s next sponsorship.

Bonus: you could win big with our 50/50 draw! Tickets are $2 each or 3 for $5.

Tickets for the event are $10. Please email to reserve yours today, or ask your friendly neighbourhood Open Harbour member!

Make sure to bring your clever friends! 😉

About really long lists, friendships and letting go

Helping newcomers to Canada settle into their new lives is a humbling, challenging and rewarding experience. At the beginning of a sponsorship, our settlement task list is long and detailed – and sometimes it feels like we are only adding new items to it instead of checking them off. Obstacles arise that could never have been anticipated, decisions previously made are reconsidered when new information appears… we’ve learned that flexibility is a must!

Officially our sponsorship lasts a year. During that time we provide financial support, as well as help with all the things that come with starting a new life in an unknown country. But the friendships created during that year? Thankfully, they last longer.


Trip to LunenburgAnd we are coming to see that sometimes a year just isn’t enough. With Mohamed, alone in Canada with no family and learning English for the first time, we decided to help for a bit longer beyond the end of our sponsorship in April 2018. Not financially – Mohamed is working part time and making enough money to support himself – but with other items on that never-ending settlement task list. We’ve mentioned before how independent and resourceful he is, and it’s true. So maybe we just weren’t ready to let go “officially.” We appreciate him letting us hang on a bit longer. 🙂

As we work on helping Mohamed with a few last things/letting go, we also look ahead to our next sponsorship. Yup, you heard it here first, folks – we have decided to move forward with a third sponsorship. Expect to hear a lot more about that in the weeks and months to come!

As always, thanks for being part of this with us.


Today is World Refugee Day

On Saturday, members of Open Harbour and Mohamed joined with 500 other people for the fifth annual Walk with Refugees for a Stronger Canada. The walk ended with a reception at the Halifax Central Library, which included speeches from Immigration Minister Lena Diab, ISANS CEO Jennifer Watts, and former refugee Moustafa Alkrad – and music from Samba Nova!

The event was in honour of World Refugee Day, which is held every year on June 20 – today. Over 68 million people are displaced by violence and persecution in our world today. Each of those 68 million people have a name and their own story and experiences, and deserve so much better.

We’re proud to support refugees and to continue to do our bit here at Open Harbour. World Refugee Day is a day to recognize the strength and resilience of those of us who have been forced to leave our homes. We see that strength in the newcomers we’ve met here in Halifax, and it’s an honour to be a part of their lives.

“Refugees are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, with the same hopes and ambitions as us—except that a twist of fate has bound their lives to a global refugee crisis on an unprecedented scale.” – Khaled Hosseini, author


Bake sale success

Another successful bake sale organized by Open Harbour’s fundraising team! We raised over $750 and sold out most of our Valentine’s goodies!

Thank you to everyone who helped out with baking or on the day – we couldn’t have done it without you. Special thanks to Marena Diab for baking a fabulous half-lemon and half-vanilla Valentine’s cake.

All proceeds will go towards our next sponsorship.

Winter walk with Mohamed

This past Sunday Open Harbour spent the whole day with Mohamed walking through the Public Gardens and visiting the Halifax Central Library to get his first library card. It was a cold and chilly day, perfect for a nice cup of hot chocolate. We want to thank our new Arabic-speaking volunteer interpreters and everyone who could join us to spend the day with Mohamed.

Check out some of the photos:

Sharing our summer highlights

Mohamed, our newest arrival from Eritrea, had an adventurous first summer in Canada. Check out some of the photos below!

Of course, settling into a new community and country also involves a lot of less-than-adventurous activities, and Mohamed has approached these necessities with determination. As he waits for his full-time English classes to start, Mohamed continues to develop his English language skills through the YMCA Talking Circle program and through the help of a volunteer tutor.

Getting to know the city
The fine weather in the city was an excellent time for Mohamed to enjoy his membership in the Mount Saint Vincent University community garden. He grew a variety of onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, with seeds and starter plants donated by MSVU’s garden co-ordinator and Open Harbour members.

And with a newly rebuilt bicycle – courtesy of Open Harbour supporters and Long Alley Bikes on Quinpool Road – Mohamed has begun to independently navigate the city as he becomes more and more familiar with his new home.

Row row row your boat…
Thanks to the awesome volunteers at the Halifax Rowing Club and the YMCA Centre for Immigrant Programs, Mohamed got his first chance to row like an athlete down the Northwest Arm. Along with classmates from the YMCA Talking Circles program, Mohamed got out on the water in an eight-seat boat and learnt good rowing techniques such as “sweeping” with one oar.

Learning about Mi’kmaq history and culture
Mohamed also had a great opportunity to learn about Mi’kmaq culture and history at a workshop hosted by Cathy Martin, the first Mi’kmaq female filmmaker of Atlantic Canada. Mohamed joined other members of​ YMCA Centre for Immigrant Programs and ISANS at the workshop that took place inside a beautiful wigwam at Mount Saint Vincent University.

Playing tourist at Peggy’s Cove

We took Mohamed on a day trip to Peggy’s Cove. It was a fun day for Mohamed who had a great time getting to know more about the exciting spots to see in Nova Scotia!

Day trip to Lunenburg

It was all smiles and laughter on Sunday, September 10 when members of Open Harbour accompanied several new arrivals on a trip to the South Shore.

Guests included Mohamed and the first family we sponsored, the Ali/Youssefs. Also along for the adventure was Chahin’s brother Hanir and his family, who arrived in Nova Scotia in June, and Bashir and Nareen Ali and their four children, who came to Nova Scotia last year. Altogether, we were 16 adults, seven kids, and two babies!

Highlights of the gloriously sunny day included a delicious seafood lunch at the​ Old Fish Factory Restaurant on Lunenburg’s waterfront. The staff made everyone feel welcome. This was followed by a tour of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic where our gang received an excellent history lesson. The tour was good fun with lots of hands-on opportunities for the kids – and adults too! Our little people particularly appreciated the chance to help launch the model ship outside the museum. And everyone enjoyed investigating the Theresa E. Connor schooner.

Special thanks to the Open Harbour members who helped out, volunteer translator Fadwa Baker, museum tour guide Nancy, Old Fish Factory sous chef T.J. Pittman and server Trish, and the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration for funding.

Welcome Mohamed from Eritrea!

It’s been a month since we welcomed Mohamed from Eritrea, who is the latest beneficiary of our sponsorship efforts. He arrived on April 20th and has been getting to know Halifax ever since. He’s met many of our members and is making new friends at the English class he attends at the YMCA Centre for Immigrant Programs. He has also been getting to know the city better while taking the bus to ISANS and downtown – sometimes with the help of our members and sometimes on his own!

Welcome, Mohamed! We are so happy you are here!

Word on the street has been that Mohamed is also a really good bowler!