Ethno-Cultural Community Program

The Ethno-cultural Community Program reaches out to immigrant and ethno-cultural youth and their families to identify the needs of immigrant communities in Ottawa. We help to reduce barriers that may prevent immigrant and ethno-cultural youth from getting the services and resources they need. We also work with community members and other agencies to introduce new programs where a need has been identified.

Through education sessions and outreach, we help to develop cross-cultural knowledge and awareness. Outreach is often done by youth, for youth. Members of the Ethno-Cultural Youth Advisory deliver workshops and information sessions about the unique issues facing youth from particular immigrant communities. They also make recommendations to decision-makers on how to address those issues. Youth and families can also contact the program for crisis help, support and referral to services.

Westend Youth Motivators (WEYM) are a committee of youth from diverse cultural backgrounds, who are committed to making a difference within the Pinecrest Queensway area neighborhoods.

How to access the program

The Ethno-cultural Community Program is offered through the Downtown Services and Drop-in Centre. Immigrant and ethno-cultural youth can access the program by visiting the Drop-in at 147 Besserer Street. Youth and community groups can contact us to find out more about the program and youth-led workshops.

Sameha Ahmed
613-241-7913 ext. 410

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Milo's Story

Every year when I was little, I’d think “this will be the year that everything will be okay”. And every year, I’d be crushed. By the time I was 18 I couldn’t take my dad’s drinking or my mom’s crying anymore, so I packed a knapsack with the warmest clothes I had and I left. It was freezing cold, and I was alone…but I was free.

The next few months were rough and at times very scary. I spent nights in parks, doorways and even under bridges all with just an old sleeping bag a friend had given me. One night it was so cold that I walked until the sun came up, afraid that I would freeze to death if I slept.

It took me awhile to get over the embarrassment to start asking people for money. But, it was swallow my pride or stay cold and hungry. After two weeks of doing this I learned about YSB. I didn’t know it then but, in that moment, my life changed for the better. I got connected to YSB’s Young Men’s Emergency Shelter and my first night in the shelter I slept 11 hours. I felt so safe and secure. I remember that moment clearly and I felt so hopeful I now have my own apartment in one of YSB’s long-term housing buildings, am attending college to become a graphic designer, and am working part-time to support myself.

“For the first time I can remember, I’m really excited about my future. Growing up I just thought about getting by one day at a time.” I hope my story conveys just how life changing it was for me to be able to access YSB’s shelter during a really difficult time in my life. The team at YSB supported me every step of the way, and I’m grateful they were by my side. I hope you’ll consider taking the opportunity to transform the life of another young person like me today.


*While Milo’s story is real his name has been changed to protect his privacy