When creativity meets care, the possibilities are limitless!

Deirdre Freiheit
President and CEO of Shepherds of Good Hope and the Shepherds of Good Hope Foundation
Published in the Lowertown Echo
February 1, 2019

When the cold January nights seem longest and darkest, I am often reminded of the incredible warmth and care that our staff, volunteers and community partners extend to our city’s homeless and vulnerable people every day at Shepherds of Good Hope.

Being homeless can be a scary experience for many people, but there are many staying at our shelter who brighten our days through their art work, and culture.

Just last month, in the community room of our shelter on King Edward Ave., a small group of people participated in an Indigenous Cultural Workshop where people learned how to make dream catchers. This program was possible because of our partnership with Ottawa Inner City Health, and Miniwaashin Lodge whose staff often visit our shelter to bring Indigenous people and others together to participate in Indigenous cultural art and traditions.

The Indigenous Cultural Group at Shepherds of Good Hope.

Participants smiled and chatted with each other as they wove together some beautiful and personal pieces of art. Fingers tying stringed beads one at a time until the dreamcatchers were complete. These workshops are meaningful for Indigenous people, especially those who have experienced trauma. By using traditional activities and art, they can heal and renew confidence.

Indeed, at Shepherds of Good Hope, we know art can provide a much-needed tangible connection to a person’s history and culture. It can help to heal emotional wounds and can provide a creative outlet for our clients to express themselves. For others, it is a chance to try something they may not have done before.

For several years, Shepherds of Good Hope has made a sincere effort to provide those opportunities. Art can do so much more than entertain; it can inspire.

Marcel Mowatt, an accomplished Indigenous painter who now lives at The Oaks, one of our supportive housing residence, has helped many share his passion for art.

Marcel Mowatt, Indigenous painter and resident at The Oaks.

Marcel’s handiwork can be found on the side of The Oaks, where he designed the top portion of a massive mural celebrating the history of the Carlington community. Thanks to the Carlington Community Association and lots of energetic youth in the neighbourhood, The Oaks now has a permanent reminder of how art can bring us all together and foster a community of compassion.

Last October, Marcel also hosted an art workshop for fellow residents. For a few hours, the common room at The Oaks was a flurry of paintbrushes and excitement as, under the tutelage of Marcel, residents tried their hand at painting some landscapes.

For one resident, Peter, it was the first painting he had ever made in his life. After completing it, he was all smiles showing off his handiwork to staff and residents. Peter’s toothy grin when he had the chance to try something totally new and succeed is exactly what Shepherds of Good Hope is all about.

When we help homeless and vulnerable people in our community connect creativity with their care, the possibilities are limitless.

Peter, a resident at The Oaks, smiling at his first ever painting

See the article in the Lowertown Echo HERE (Page 15)