A Message From Peter

As spring and Easter approach, we always appreciate a message of hope. This is especially important after the many challenges of the past few years. Here at The Ottawa Mission, we have some good news to share with you.

In November 2022, after 32 months of curtailed access in order to keep our clients, employees and volunteers safe during the pandemic, our shelter reopened to all community clients as well as to shelter guests. That included our community meal service, which had been modified to provide take-out meals through our garage.

That day in November was one of the most inspiring I’ve seen in my time here at the shelter. Our staff team was rejuvenated by the gratitude of those in our dining hall, now surrounded by warmth and company. Other programs such as our addiction and trauma services, support for housing, education and employment, health services, and others were also fully opened to all clients who need our support.

Further welcome developments include:

  • replacing our original food truck, now more than 20 years old, so our meal program clients across the city won’t go hungry.
  • the opening of our new eight-unit housing facility to provide former clients with a safe and affordable place of their own.
  • the beginning of another Food Services Training Program (FSTP) class, which provides graduates the training and hope needed to rebuild their lives.

In addition to hearing about our new food truck in this newsletter, you’ll also read stories of hope from people like Tetiana, who fled tragedy in her native country of Ukraine to find new beginnings in Canada through the FSTP. And Garry, who faced not only homelessness but a life-threatening illness, and found a new home and improved health through our help. But none of this would be possible without you.

On behalf of all who rely upon our vital services, thank you, and our best wishes to you for a happy Easter.


Peter Tilley

CEO, The Ottawa Mission

Our New Food Truck is Here!

Our food truck program began in September 2020 with a truck from the Pelican Grill that was not being used due to the pandemic. Beginning with one truck and five stops serving 500 meals per week, by Easter 2022, a second truck rolled into action because the program had grown to 34 stops serving over 7,000 meals per week.

We will always be grateful to the Pelican Grill & Urbandale for this first food truck, which brought nourishing food to so many people across our community who would otherwise have gone hungry. After over two years of faithful service, this first food truck was retired in December 2022 since by that time it was more than 20 years old and regularly needed repairs to stay on the road. In order to ensure that we could continue to meet the increasing need for meals across Ottawa, we added a new truck to replace this original truck.

As funding for other meal programs in the city dried up, your support allowed The Mission to step in to meet the shocking increase in the need for meals. Our Mobile Mission Meals program now has 34 stops, serving over 7,000 meals per week.

I am in a wheelchair and find it difficult to cook. So I truly enjoy the meals each week from The Mission Food Truck. They also taste delicious!!
Joy, Food Truck client

Did you know, our Mobile Mission Meals program is supported entirely by donations? As inflation drives food costs ever-higher, your support continues to feed thousands across our community who cannot feed themselves or their families due to mounting costs.

We’ve put together a short video for you so you can see the new truck first-hand and how it’s providing our community with a food source they’ve come to depend on.

On behalf of those who rely on this program, thank you for your kindness.

From Heartbreak to Hope

A story that starts in war-torn Ukraine, and makes its way to Ottawa, Tetiana’s journey is one of heartbreak and pain, but also courage and hope.

Tetiana is a youthful 45-year-old former accountant from Ukraine. A mother of two, she fled with her husband after her home city of Mariupol fell to Russian forces. Her 19-year-old son stayed in Ukraine to be available for military service, and she sent her 10-year-old daughter to live with her ex-husband in Slovakia since she was unsure if she could provide for her in her new country of Canada. “It was a hard decision,” she notes ruefully.

After arriving in July with her husband, they stayed with their host in White Lake, outside of Ottawa. Connecting with the YMCA online, she learned about The Ottawa Mission’s Food Services Training Program.

After an in-person interview with Chef Ric, Tetiana was accepted into the program and her husband was offered a job at The Mission’s kitchen, where he works today. The Mission also found them a free apartment close to the shelter, and provided furniture and housewares to make it a true home away from home.

As a person for whom English is not her first language, Tetiana has found the Food Services Training Program “challenging”. But she notes,

“It’s an amazing opportunity to start a new life in Canada. It means a lot to me. It’s so hard to organize a new life. If not for the help of The Mission, we couldn’t do anything. We were like little birds who had fallen out of our nest. Without The Mission and our host, it would have been impossible.”

Thank you for making Tetiana’s story of hope possible.

Garry’s New Beginning

When Garry lost his job two years ago and was subsequently evicted from his apartment, he knew he was in trouble. Matters were complicated even further when his health began to decline. Living with a friend did not work out, so he came to The Mission.

Since being diagnosed with stomach cancer in September 2021 and experiencing other complications with his lungs, staff at The Mission’s DYMON Health Clinic have provided a tailored regimen of critical care to combat his medical conditions. His cancer is now in remission and his breathing has improved significantly.

The Mission eventually helped Garry transition into his own apartment.

“This place saved my life. Everyone I encountered went above and beyond to help me during the initial treatments, and after I was in remission, to locate housing.”

The now 67-year-old reflects on his life. Originally from Winnipeg, he made the move to Ottawa in 1980. When he lost his job, an unemployment officer suggested cooking as a profession. This led to a 40-year career as a chef, the majority of which was spent designing and preparing meals for retirement communities. And his passion for feeding others hasn’t wavered one bit. “Most people in my apartment are elderly, so I decided to cook soup once a week for everyone,” says Garry. “It creates a community where people can socialize and get to know each other.”

Your gifts help Garry and others like him every single day. Thank you!

A Legacy of Hope for Our Clients

Dr. Keith McFarlane was a clinical, correctional and forensic psychologist who worked with marginalized adults and youth who had spent their lives without much social or economic advantage. He understood his clients, and believed that given the right supports, they could live happier and more successful lives.

His wife Dr. Karen Cohen, also a psychologist, shared how Keith knew that a lack of resources and opportunity can profoundly impact choices and outcomes, as well as mental health and wellbeing. After Keith’s sudden and untimely passing in January 2020, Karen and their daughters Madison and Sydney, decided to honour his memory by setting up a fund to provide mental health supports and access to psychological services for clients of The Mission.

“Keith firmly believed that with resources, support and positive coping strategies, people could live more happily and successfully.”

Keith was a committed cognitive behavioural therapist and believed that, with support, people could change their lives through understanding patterns of negative thinking and behaviour, and acquire the tools to change this.

In addition to the family’s generous donation to set-up Keith’s fund and the many contributions from family and friends, Karen has been a champion for clients of The Mission, reaching out to her professional peers to engage them in the program.

Recently, Karen made another very touching donation. She lovingly knitted hats for our clients from yarn she had been saving to begin a new sweater for Keith. Keith’s legacy will live on with our clients not only by giving them the mental health supports they need, but also by keeping them warm through this generous donation.

Our deepest thanks to the Cohen-McFarlane family.

You Bring Hope This Easter

Easter is only a month away! For just $3.47, you can provide a warm meal at our annual Easter celebration to someone who is struggling. When you give, you’ll provide hope, love and showcase the meaning of Easter to someone in our community. Will you donate today?