Lebanese-Canadian youths spruced up local park in Ottawa

Neil Nesbitt Park in Barrhaven received a great gift from the Lebanese-Canadian community in Ottawa yesterday, September 24, 2022.  Dozens of youths and youths at heart, planted 125 trees at the park yesterday under perfect weather conditions. The planting site felt like a festival, teaming with delighted volunteers and onlookers from neighboring homes.  Local dignitaries attended the event, including Mayor Jim Watson, Mr. Chandra Arya, MP and Mrs. Lisa McLeod, MPP for Nepean. Also in attendance was Mr. Kamel El-CheikhAli, Consul of Lebanon in Canada.

Increasing tree canopy in neighbourhood parks was a great motivator to Dr. Aïda Warah, Founder and Executive Director of GentleWays for OurPlanet, the organization sponsoring this event.  “We’re also committed to engaging with youths from various cultural groups and to including them in the conversation on the environment” Warah said.  When Warah was asked where the organization would like to plant trees she said “wherever trees are needed the most”.

Barrhaven has one of the lowest tree canopy rates in the city, second to last place with the coverage only at 23%. The city is trying to increase the neighbourhood tree canopy to 40% in each community.

“We’re delighted for Barrhaven residents and particularly those neighboring the planting site like Christina Thompson.” Warah added. Ms. Thompson, a supporter of GentleWays for OurPlanet, had been requesting from the City that more trees be planted in her neighborhood park. “Trees are such an important part of fighting climate change. Having an entire new forest planted right in our community, will show our kids and grandchildren that we can make a difference.”  Thomson shared

GentleWays for OurPlanet ‘s mission focuses on enabling individuals in Ottawa take action to protect the environment. Their current projects include community tree planting  and promoting greater use of the green bin.  They have also developed and released in 2021 a free mobile app, the i4ThePlanet, through which 292 trees have been planted in Ottawa so far in collaboration with Ecology Ottawa and OneTree Planted.

The event program included words from local dignitaries, a poem by poet Said -El-Hage, live violin performance by Sarah Williams, snacks and lunch, and some awards. In his speech, the Lebanese Consul, Mr. Kamel El-Cheikh Ali underlined the importance of protecting the cedar tree Cedrus Libani, which is under threat in Lebanon due to climate change.  It’s GentleWays for OurPlanet’s intent that this awesome tree, the beloved Cedrus Libani, be brought to Canada as part of an envisioned Lebanon Forest in Ottawa. Stay tuned!

GentleWays for OurPlanet’s Executive Director and its Board of Directors acknowledge and express their gratitude towards the Steering Committee who worked generously and lovingly over the past several months to bring this event to life. Miss Ashley Janna, Mrs. Carole Nehme, Mrs. Colette Corban, Mr. Hashem Y Hashem, Ms. Christiane Mayo and Mr. Teke Rerri have given this project their absolute best, their time, their counsel, and valuable gifts to make it a very special event. Also thanked are Tree Canada and the City of Ottawa for their technical assistance and guidance.

The Steering Committee wholeheartedly thanks the many donors and sponsors, whose generous gifts and contributions made this event possible,  also acknowledges and thanks all the volunteers who enthusiastically planted the trees and made this event a memorable experience to everyone. A big thank you to the three churches in Ottawa who sent a large number of volunteers to this tree planting event,  Saint-Charbel Parish Maronite Catholic Church,  St. Paul Syriac Catholic Church and Sts. Peter & Paul Melkite Catholic Church.

For more info please contact: info@gentleways.org

Kindly scroll down for event pictures