It was a celebration of nature and the environment Sat., Oct. 14 as volunteers from Gentle Ways for Our Planet was at Mowat Farm Park in Barrhaven West for a tree planting initiative.
This collaborative effort, supported and enabled by the City of Ottawa, saw 325 new native trees take root thanks to the dedicated involvement of members of the Lebanese-Canadian community and local neighbourhood residents.
It was the second annual tree planting for the group. In September, 2022, Gentle Ways for Our Planet planted 125 trees at Neil Nesbitt Park in Barrhaven. Among those who attended the event were Barrhaven West Councillor David Hill, and Lebanese Ambassador H.E. Fadi Ziadeh. Hill, who rode his bike to the event, was the first volunteer to arrive.
“We are dedicated in our commitment to engaging with youth from diverse cultural groups and including them in action to improve the environment,” Dr. Aïda Warah, Founder and Executive Director shared. When Warah was asked where her organization would like to plant trees she said “wherever trees are needed most”, citing both Hunt Club and Barrhaven as key locations, especially since both areas have lost thousands of trees due to severe storms over the last couple of years.
According to Warah, Barrhaven has one of the worst tree canopy rates in the city, the community is second to last place with the coverage here only at 23 per cent. The city is trying to increase the neighbourhood tree canopy to 40 per cent in each community. According to the City’s Tree Canopy Assessment, research shows that more tree canopy coverage provides residents with cooler summer temperatures and has also been shown to increase academic performance in children. This green project will help to reach the city’s tree planting targets and improve the beautification of the park.
It was a family event, as Arabic music was played on speakers during the event and children were able to paly on the Mowat Farm Park play structure.
Warah, a retired psychologist originally from Lebanon, founded Gentle Ways for Our Planet as she wanted to dedicate her time to environmental issues. The former University of Ottawa professor created the planet-action group in 2019 after seeing the picture of a whale that washed up to shore with 15 kilograms of plastics lodged in its stomach.
“Our focus and mission is to work with individuals,” said Warah. “We don’t lobby the government or organizations. We want to urge individuals to take environmental action to reduce their carbon footprint and general footprint on the planet.”
Warah noted that steering committee volunteers Ashley Janna, Carole Nehme, Colette Corban, Hashem Y Hashem, and Mounir Gedeon, as well as all of the volunteers who helped plant trees made the event a success.
Domino’s Pizza (by Owner/Partner Himanshu Choudhry) provided lunch, and SJKC Fashion (by CEO Carole Nehme) brought loads of snacks and drinks to the many volunteers and guests. A touch of magic was added by Colette Corban and Ashley Janna who gave gifts for five volunteers whose names were drawn from the list of attendees. Gentle Ways also thanks Samantha Armstrong from Holey Confections, Fallowfield Rd, for their quick response when we approached their Barrhaven business for sponsorship. Also thanked for their generous donations were Abir Harb, Rabah Corbane, Fadi Abou-Arraj, Victor Nekhay, and Zivana Pavic.
Featured Image: Consul of Lebanon to Canada Kamel El-Cheikhali, Aida Warah, Councillor David Hill and Lebanon’s Ambassador to Canada, Fadi Ziadeh were among those planting trees Saturday.