Vietnamese Community Honours Marion Dewar’s Legacy

  • Photo of OCISO management team on Zoom in the time of COVID-19

Vietnamese Community Honours Marion Dewar’s Legacy

On April 29, 2020, a special Zoom call took place to recognize a generous donation of $6,000 from the Vietnamese Canadian Centre to the Marion Dewar Scholarship Fund (MDSF). In normal times, this type of presentation would be done in person, but to adhere to the physical distancing requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic, OCISO “virtually” accepted this donation.

Participants in the cheque presentation were Can Le, President, Board of Directors, Vietnamese Canadian Centre (VCC), Dr. Vinh Nguyen, member or VCC, Barbara Gamble, member of the MDSF Leadership Circle and Donna Holtom, Chair of the MDSF Committee, along with Karyn Steer, Interim Executive Director, OCISO and Suzanne Charest, Executive and Communications Assistant, OCISO.

“Thank you so very much for this generous donation, and thank you Can Le, for your leadership in bringing this donation to fruition,” remarked Karyn Steer, Interim Executive Director, OCISO. “It is so inspiring that in these difficult times, when the COVID 19 pandemic has changed so much about our lives and our work, that you are donating $6,000 to the MDSF.”

Some 22 newcomer youth have received a MDSF scholarship since 2009.

“The MDSF helps develop youth leadership in Ottawa and is a way of honouring the long lasting memory of the late Marion Dewar who contributed so much to the community,” added Can Le, President of the Board of Directors of the Vietnamese Canadian Centre (VCC).

“In these tough economic times, newcomer students in our community will need our support more than ever before,” added Karyn. “Your donation today will cover the costs of four future scholarships for young people who are working so hard towards building a brighter future for them and their families.”

OCISO’s history and growth is closely linked to the massive refugee project that forever shaped Ottawa. OCISO opened doors in 1978, the year before Ottawa Mayor Marion Dewar established Project 4000, welcoming refugees from Vietnam and its bordering countries. We can be proud to say that by 1985, Canada was among the nations that had taken in the most refugees from Southeast Asia.

Dr. Vinh Nguyen, member or VCC, was personally touched by the timing of the cheque presentation, as the following day would mark the 45th anniversary of the fall of Saigon which would lead to the massive exodus of Vietnamese people from that country, many fleeing in makeshift boats.

“April 30th, 1975 marked when Project 4000 started to blossom,” said Dr. Nguyen. “We truly appreciate the generosity of so many people in Ottawa who welcomed us as refugees more than 40 years ago and we try to help out wherever we can.”

“Marion would be touched by the initiative of the Vietnamese Canadian Centre’s grass root campaign to raise the $6,000 through individual contributions from its members, said Donna Holtom, Chair, MDSF Committee.  “This donation and the Vietnamese community’s commitment to continue to work with the MDSF will sustain the legacy of Marion’s leadership through Project 4000 and its role in creating a community-driven model that saw the resettlement of Vietnamese refugees in communities across the country.”

“The generosity of our city’s Vietnamese community continues to amaze me,” said Barbara Gamble, Co-Chair, MDSF Committee. “During so many challenging times in our history they have come to the aid of others.  This contribution to the Marion Dewar Scholarship Fund is another gift from the people who have themselves known and risen above much adversity. We are so fortunate to have them as neighbours and friends.”

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Our Mission!

OCISO supports immigrants through the journey of making Canada their home by providing creative and responsive programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, by building community through mutual respect and partnerships, and by fostering healthy and inclusive spaces for open dialogue and healing.

What we do 🙂

We are community based non-profit organization that has been providing services in Ottawa since 1978. We are motivated by the stories of new immigrants, and we are there every stage of the journey. OCISO directly serves over 10,000 immigrants and refugees every year. Our work is augmented by the generous efforts of our enthusiastic, caring and talented staff, volunteers, both established and new Canadians.