Bake Sale Fundraiser with Autism NS

Open Harbour is partnering with Autism Nova Scotia for a bake sale fundraiser on Friday, March 10th at the Spring Garden Road entrance to Park Lane Mall. We’ll be offering a wide selection of delicious baked goods prepared by volunteers from Open Harbour and from Autism NS. Make sure to stop by and check out our yummy cupcakes and cookies – and more! – from 9:30am to 6pm.

We would like to thank Autism Nova Scotia for providing us with talented volunteers to help us prepare for the bake sale.

One-Year Anniversary of the Ali/Youssef Family’s Arrival

This past weekend Open Harbour had a chance to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the arrival of the Ali/Youssef Family to Canada. Open Harbour members have gotten to know the family really well as they helped them settle in their new home here in Halifax. Members, friends, and supporters of Open Harbour arranged a delicious potluck held at the beautiful Local Council of Women house on Young Avenue. The celebrations was marked by great food, a lot of fun and awesome speeches in honour of a fabulous family that Open Harbour had the pleasure of sponsoring and getting to know. Thanks to everyone for bringing food and helping to celebrate this occasion.  Although our official one-year sponsorship has ended, the friendship established between the family and Open Harbour members will continue.

First Canadian Holiday Season

The Ali/Youssef family enjoyed their first holiday season in Canada. Chahin answered a few questions by email. Here are his responses

What did you think of your first holiday season here in Canada?
Because I had free time I remembered how far we are, and how we were spending a very good time together. That thinking made us sad for a period of time, but we always thanked God because we are safe here in Canada.

On the other hand, we were very happy because we saw the happiness on our children’s faces.
Also I was very happy when I saw how everybody tried to show his love and respect to his/her family and friends by giving them a present, gift card or even saying happy holiday.

What surprised you about it?
The lights outside the houses, especially those two houses in Halifax. (The “dueling doctors” on Connaught Ave.) And the love and good feelings between people.

What did you enjoy the most?
I enjoyed the supper with Vince and Claire’s family. The meal was very delicious of course, but to spend that special day with family was more important for me and made my heart warm and glad.

Could you share with us some of your own family traditions that are similar to how Canadians celebrate the holiday season?
Yes, we have EID ALATHA and EID ALFITIR. On these days all the family meets in the family home for three or four days. They spend a very good time together and they visit the neighbours, the friends and the relatives.

If you would like to hear more updates from our Family and our upcoming events subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter at


Call for Volunteers

Open Harbour is always looking to expand its team. But this call is special. We are looking to fill key roles – Volunteer Coordinator, Housing Lead, Fundraiser and Co-Chair. We want to fill the roles with people who have expertise and motivation and a passion for refugee protection. The new people will not be acting alone but will have the support of other members of the team. If interested or if you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact We look forward to hearing from you. Further job descriptions are below:

VOLUNTEER COORDINATOR: keeps list of volunteers and contact info, contacts volunteers when needed (for events or first 3 weeks of settlement), coordinates volunteer orientation sessions & volunteer appreciation, recruits volunteers.

FUNDRAISER:  Coordinates fundraising initiatives, creates fundraising strategies, promotes events, thanks donors, works as a team member with the fundraising committee, updates the OHRA board, keeps records, photographs fundraising events and more. Could involve a 1 year commitment.

HOUSING LEAD – Works with sponsored individuals to search for affordable accommodations and support their housing needs throughout their first year in Nova Scotia. Leads the housing committee and works as a team member. This includes looking for the best location for housing, finding temporary housing if possible, dealing with leases, insurance, utilities, giving notice, etc.

Members of Open Harbour organizes a potluck for the Ali/Youssef family

Open Harbour had a stellar weekend with the Ali/Youssef family. Members of Open Harbour organized a potluck for the family at Grace United Church Hall in Dartmouth. Friends, interpreters and many well-wishers had a chance to meet Chahin, Yasmin, Shana and Yara and to congratulate them for the newest member of the family Joanna Suriya born on Oct 10th. The food was awesome too. Special thanks to Grace United Church for the use of their hall and to Ann Dent for her hard work. Also we would like to congratulate Sally Reardon of Halifax, a supporter of Open Harbour, for winning the Raffle of almost $1000 worth of gift cards! Check out the photos from the event, and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter at to get the latest news and events from Open Harbour.







Open Harbour hosts a spectacular fundraising dinner with Chef Abod

Last Friday, Open Harbour hosted a spectacular evening dinner with lots of fun and lots of laughs. The delicious meal was prepared by Chef Abod (restaurant at 3217 Kempt Road Open Harbour appreciates the support of those who attended. A special thanks goes out to Mary Lynk and her family – Stan, Laila and Sandy — for welcoming us into their beautiful home. If you would like to know more about our upcoming events, or if you would like to get involved, make sure to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter:

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Open Harbour invites you to: Meet the Family Potluck

Open Harbour would like to thank you for your support of the Ali/Youssef family by inviting you to Volunteer/Supporter Potluck. Come meet the whole family: Shahin, Yasmin, Shana, Yara and Joanna Suriya born Oct 10.
The Potluck will take place Saturday, December 3, 5 pm to 7 pm at Grace United Church Hall, 70 King Street, Dartmouth

RSVP to with indication of:  appetizer, main, salad or dessert. (please label your dish, i.e. vegetarian, pork, nuts, halal, etc.)

If you plan to celebrate the new baby’s arrival with a gift, may we suggest cash or a gift card?  Thank you!

Open Harbour Fundraising Raffle

Open Harbour members will be selling raffle tickets until December 3. Tickets are $2 each, three for $5. Contact an OHRA member you know, or email us at if you want to purchase tickets.

Talk about one-stop shopping! The winner receives a basket with gift certificates from the following businesses:


Agora Mediterranean Cafe Bistro – $25


Agricola Street Brasserie – $50


Eliot & Vine – $40 


Grafton Connor Group Restaurants – 2 x $50


Issa’s Saj House-2 X $25


Little Oak – $50



Murphy Group of Restaurants – $25


Smith’s Bakery -3 X $20


Lucky Penny Coffee Co. $25



Bookmark – $25


Chapters – $50 (member donation)


Woozles – $40



Charm Diamond – $100  


Happy Harry’s – $50



Bomin Myung Acupuncture – $75


FRED – $100 (member donation)


Head Shoppe – $50


Open Harbour Presents: A Savoury Feast

Join us on Friday, November 25, for a fantastic fund-raising dinner fit for a prince and served in a historic South-End Halifax mansion. Chef Abod, former chef to a Saudi Prince, has created an exceptional three-course menu exclusively for Open Harbour.

Tickets are $75 – Only 30 tickets will be sold! (Please reserve by Nov. 18)
Cocktails will be served from 6 pm to 7 pm. Dinner to follow from 7 pm to 9 pm.

Location is 761 Young Avenue, Halifax.
Contact us at

Hummus, Fatouch Salad, and Sambusa: meat and cheese pastries

Moroccan Tajine with haddock, Syrian Ravioli (Shish Barak), and Mandi Roast Chicken

Baklava, and Kanafeh cheese pastry with syrup



Raising all Boats: From Welfare to Well Being

Marie Thompson an active member of Open Harbour has been involved in helping refugees resettle in Canada for the past few years. She along with members of Halifax Refugee Welcome Group Dick Evans and Lee Seymour have shared with us their thoughts on the Canadian Social Assistance system and how it could be tailored to help not just refugees but to all Canadians in particular those who live in poverty.


To the Members of Open Harbour Refugee Association

As I learned more about Canada’s approach to refugee support I realized that we “welcome” newcomers to Canada with an introduction to poverty.  It’s a poverty experienced by thousands of Canadians who rely on a social assistance system with no opportunities to escape.  Since then a small group of us (myself and Lee Seymour and Dick Evans of the Halifax Refugee Welcome group) have set our minds to the income situation facing not only refugees but all Canadians who rely on income assistance.  We are inspired by the incredible outpouring of support demonstrated by ordinary folks across the country focussed initially on Syrian Refugees.  But we are also motivated by the idea that a “Rising Tide Raises All Boats” and hope that we can find support to improve income assistance for everyone, not just refugees.

– Marie Thompson, Open Harbour Member

Throughout Nova Scotia and across Canada, countless individuals, associated with a disparate number of groups and organizations, have taken a profound interest in the plight of Syrian refugees.

Along with this has come an awareness of the inadequacy of income assistance rates (which are tied to provincial social assistance rates), for many newcomer families, as well as for most if not all individuals and families who are currently recipients of income assistance.  

In the late fall of 2016 and throughout 2017 at least 25 thousand Syrian newcomers to Canada will celebrate their one-year anniversary of arrival.  At this point, they will see an end to the income and medical and other support they receive now from the federal government and from their private sponsors.  Some will find work, but many will be relying on provincial welfare.  

They – and many of us who sponsor them – will face the reality so many in poverty already know:  that social assistance rates are insufficient and often punishing.


Who We Are

We are a group of people actively involved with some of the more than 100 Nova Scotia private refugee sponsorship groups. We seek to:

  1. Raise awareness generally about the inadequate income assistance rates for everyone (recognizing that many New Canadians will join other Canadians on income assistance).
  2. Campaign for an increase to social assistance rates for ALL, by mobilizing those in the refugee sponsorship community and other interested parties.

A rising tide raises all boats.  Income support levels need to be set so that all Canadians can have access to:

  • Adequate and affordable housing
  • Access to healthcare outside of what is provided by MSI
  • Access to public transit
  • Access to nutritional food (and so on)

Tens of thousands of Canadians pushed their leaders to open the doors to Canada and a promise of a better life for Syrian refugees.  We need to make good on that promise: a better life for New Canadians as well as all Canadians who rely on social assistance.


Next Steps

  1. Build support for this initiative among the more than one hundred private refugee sponsorship groups in Nova Scotia.
  2. Develop an action plan for a campaign, which may perhaps culminate with the provincial budget in the Spring of 2017, include lobbying and campaigning at both the provincial and federal levels.

Document prepared by Lee Seymour, Marie Thompson and Dick Evans
Contact information:

Lee Seymour ( Phone: 902-454-1656)
Marie Thompson (  Phone: 902-483-8164)
Dick Evans ( 902-454-1656