New kids festival coming to Heatherington, Fairlea to break down barriers
The event is meant to help reduce fear in wake of death of Somali-Canadian Abdirahman Abdi.
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Kids are the key to positive change.
For that reason they will be the focus of a new two-day Kids Love Peace Festival, designed to foster peace and strengthen community connections on back-to-back days in Fairlea and Heatherington.
“I'm trying to build the community and lower the barriers between people,” said Peter Stockdale, co-founder and co-organizer of the decade-old Ottawa Peace Festival, which now includes the Kids Love Peace Festival.
A strong children's component had been missing from the 2015 line-up of the Ottawa Peace Festival. This year's festival is being been held at numerous locales from Sept. 21 to Oct. 2.
“We had lost that connection with children,” said Stockdale, who is also president of the Fairlea Community Association.
The upcoming free children's event, which takes place in Heatherington Park on Sept. 24 and in Fairlea Park on Sept. 25, is also a response to the death of Abdirahman Abdi, a 36-year-old Somali-Canadian who died following an altercation with Ottawa police on July 24 in Hintonburg.
“We were seeing the barriers increasing and this was a way find an opportunity to have communication, to have less fear and for the kids to lead that feeling,” Stockdale said.
The reaction in his Fairlea neighbourhood to Abdi’s death was strong among various cultural groups, not only among Somali-Canadians. Many expressed feeling agitated, nervous, uncertain, and fearful, particularly about police, said Stockdale.
“There was a strong feeling that something had to be done, that it couldn't be left,” he said. “We hope that we'll be saying something useful for Hintonburg because obviously the barriers are increasing there.”
The goal of the children's festival, which will feature a variety of activities both days ranging from yoga and group art projects to puppetry, singing and music, is to build bridges between cultures and celebrate diversity.
“Then hopefully what you don't fear, you won't learn to hate as you get older,” said Alta Vista resident Lindsey Barr, who is co-organizing the kids festival with Stockdale.
Somali-Canadian students from nearby Ridgemont High School have also been invited to volunteer during the festivities. Ottawa police officers will be volunteering their time during the festival in Heatherington on Sept. 25.
The hope is that more people will come forward to get involved in the events and offer more interactive activities, such as a baseball clinic. And everyone from across the city is invited to enjoy the two-day event.
“We want our children to be exposed to more,” said Barr, founder of World-Changing Kids, a company she established to organize positive family-friendly events and foster a stronger sense of community. “And I found that families desperately want to help and get involved but they don't always know where to start.”
Anyone interested in volunteering their time or for more details, email email@example.com, or call 613-619-1907. For a full schedule of all Ottawa Peace Festival events, visit ottawapeacefestival.blogspot.ca.
Day One: Sept. 24, 12 to 4 p.m.
Heatherington Park, 1560 Heatherington Rd.
- The Ottawa police will offer fingerprinting kits, temporary tattoos, drink coupons and there will be a police cruiser for the kids to check out.
- There will be a friendship bracelet station, repurposed crafts, a group art project, live music and a shake-it-off dance will be taught and performed.
- Cat mascot Miss Kitty will be interacting with everyone, and there will be a book reading and yoga for everyone, as well as sidewalk chalk art and a gratitude tree.
Day Two: Sept. 25, 12 to 4 p.m.
Fairlea Park, 2969 Fairlea Cres.
- A life coach, author and energy healer will speak about living from the inside out, there will be a crafts corner for kids, yoga for everyone and creative dancing.
- The Fairlea Community Association will have a table where residents can provide feedback and ideas on their vision for neighbourhood improvements.
- There will also be a maker junior activity session during which kids can make musical instruments they can take home.