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Launch of the first Canadian Heart Gallery

06/16/10

The Heart Gallery of Ottawa is a travelling exhibit of professional photographs of 18 children and youth, aged 4 to 15, who are waiting for permanent families.  Ottawa has volunteered to host this first Heart Gallery ever launched in Canada.  Heart Galleries have been very successful at increasing recruitment rates for children in care in the United States.  The ACC hopes to expand these galleries across Canada in the future.

The Heart Gallery’s mission is to use the power of photography to capture the individuality and dignity of waiting children, to raise public awareness about their needs, to obtain support to meet those needs, and to find permanent homes for them.

Please help us find homes for the children and youth in our gallery by publicizing this event and the gallery.  Our children deserve lifelong families.  We would also like to encourage local business owners, curators or managers of public buildings to contact us if they would be willing to host the gallery within their offices or buildings.

We have 30,000 children and youth in Canada who need permanent families - 9,200 in Ontario alone.

We’d like to invite you to the Heart Gallery launch, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on April 15 in the Aboriginal Peoples Committee Room, 160-S Centre Block, on Parliament Hill.  The launch, hosted by Senator Jim Munson (Ottawa / Rideau Canal), will feature a panel of former and current youth in care. They will talk about what it's like to be in foster care and why it's important to find families for children of all ages.  Irwin Elman, Provincial Advocate for Children & Youth, will also share a few words at the event. “I am proud to be part of an initiative that does so much to help children and families find each other,” said Senator Munson. “This exhibit, so successful in the United States, shows how powerful art can be in making the world a better place.”

We have been touched by the generosity of Canadians who reached out to the people of Haiti and to children without families there.  Now we hope the people of Ottawa will reach out to the children and youth who need families here.  As one waiting teenager here in Ottawa told us after hearing about Canadians’ response to orphaned children in Haiti, “We live our own earthquake every day.”

Barbary MacKinnon, Executive Director of Ottawa CAS, says: “The Children's Aid Society of Ottawa is proud to partner with the ACC to participate in the first ever Heart Gallery in Canada. It is critical that the people of Ottawa understand that there are children and youth in our very own community who don't have a family to call their own. It is our hope that through this initiative families will not only come forward to make a difference in the life of a child or youth, but that the Ottawa community as a whole will see and appreciate the wonderful potential and possibilities of all of the children and youth who are in care.”

Together, we will find permanent families for waiting children and youth in foster care in Ottawa. This is the first step to changing the face of adoption in our community, and eventually, across the country.