On a blustery day in early January, a handful of folks from the OCRA Steering Committee stopped in for a quick visit and a chat with our new Ottawa Centre MP, Catherine McKenna. Having just moved into her new offices on Catherine Street (yes, Catherine on Catherine), Ms McKenna and her staff were eager to hear about the story of OCRA, and our ‘soft landing’ approach to refugee settlement.

Angela Keller-Herzog spoke of our origins around a kitchen table six short months ago, and the ensuing groundswell of emotion that has led to over 475 members and $175,000 in pledges. Ms McKenna noted that she was encouraged, but not surprised, by the outpouring of support in our community, as colleagues have mentioned similar stories from all across the country, big cities to small farming towns. Ms McKenna spoke of the response as a true example of nation building – as like minded individuals, from all walks of life, come together with a single purpose, and a simple question . what can I do to help?

Many in the room talked about their personal experience with immigration, and the benefits of the ‘soft landing’ approach that OCRA employs to help new Canadians adjust to a life, language and culture that might be dramatically different than the places they have left behind.

Throughout the meeting Ms McKenna and her staff listened as OCRA members discussed challenges, opportunities, and the excitement of making a difference, one family at a time. The meeting closed with a  promise to keep in touch, and to continue to build on the enormous momentum we have generated to date.