MABELLE Leaders 

Final Report on Year One

May 2018 to May 2019


2018 at MABELLEarts was our most successful ever. Community leadership, employment and volunteerism were at an all-time high. Newcomers—especially asylum-seekers and refugees—were welcomed in greater numbers than ever before, and attendance at workshops and events was over double what it was last year.

This astonishing growth is thanks to you.

We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Toronto Pearson for supporting our MABELLE Leaders who, together with MABELLEartists and staff, engaged over 4000 participants of all ages and backgrounds in artistic programs and events that counter isolation and foster integration in our communities. We're thrilled to share the impacts of our year with you and to thank you, on behalf of MABELLE Leaders, for your support.


  • Substantial increase in participation, volunteerism and leadership across all projects.

  • Substantial increase in local hiring - from three to eleven summer full-time staff.

  • Participants report new levels of confidence and tell us they are using what they’ve learned at MABELLEarts in other areas of their lives.

  • Participants have the confidence to seek out other forms of employment.

  • Participants report feeling welcome and engaged as Canadian citizens.

  • Participants report a sense of pride in their local community.

  • Youth participants are receiving the help they need to apply and get into major Canadian universities.

  • Adults report new skills related to food handling, menu planning and pricing and other food-service skills.


Employment and Training

The numbers at a Glance:

  • 11 community members accessed full-time summer employment

  • Over $55,000 paid to community members in wages and honoraria

  • Over 40 hours of job-related training for 20 community members

  • 15 newcomer women accessed training and hands-on skill development

Meet the 2018 Community Employees:


Farah Jibril

Farah Jibril is a Jordanian-born social work student at York University. In high school, she won the Community Involvement Award for doing over 600 hours of volunteer work. Farah has been involved with MABELLEarts since its inception and is currently a Community Facilitator. MABELLE has exposed Farah to the possibility of work that is varied, fast-paced, and both hands-on and administrative-based. She hopes to one day sponsor a child and open a drop-in centre for girls to build their confidence and teach them skills and self-care.  


Tauhid Syed 

Tauhid is high school student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute. He enjoys acting, playing with kids, and making people laugh. He has been a part of MABELLEarts for 7 years, enjoying the opportunity to meet new people and encourage new participants to join the community. Tauhid loves doing outreach and assisting with the delivery of workshops in Mabelle Park. In the future, he hopes to get a degree in law and become an actor.


Osama Jibril 

Osama is currently a community facilitator at MABELLEarts and has been involved with the organization since he was 8 years old. Outside of MABELLEarts, he is also an assistant automotive technician and has worked as a teacher’s assistant. He is good at being open minded and working with kids, which has proved to be a huge asset when taking leadership during MABELLEarts workshops and building infrastructure for the park. Outside of MABELLE, Osama desires to lead a life of leadership and entrepreneurship.


Nada Johar 

Nada is a high school student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute who has volunteered at MABELLEarts for 4 years. She previously worked as a teacher's assistant at the International Languages Elementary as well as at the Montgomery’s Inn youth cooking project. A passionate community arts love with over 350 volunteer hours in bank, Nada is always happy to help others feel welcome. She hopes to earn a degree in accounting and learn turkish in the coming future.


Tasmeen Syed 

Tasmeen is a Grade 10 student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute. She is a summer student at MABELLEarts and has been involved with MABELLEarts and partner companies such as Jumblies Theatre and the Gather-Round Singers since 2007. Outside of MABELLEarts, she is also involved with the Student Activity Council, her school’s basketball team, and graduated as Valedictorian from her middle school. She loves that she is now able to help build the company that shaped her childhood and hopes to take over MABELLEarts in the future.


Ava Macanowicz

Ava will be attending Sheridan College for the Arts Fundamentals program in September. They first joined MABELLEarts for their interest in community involvement through the arts. Outside of Mabelle, Ava has also worked at the Pazan Gallery as a framing assistant and has volunteered at the Village of Islington BIA. They hope to be accepted into Sheridan’s Bachelor of Animation program and work in the animation industry for companies such as Pixar.

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Tenzin Norgyal 

Tenzin is a high school student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute. He is a son, brother, and friend. At MABELLEarts, he loves helping people in the park, organizing the shed, and starting the campfire. He has also volunteered for the CNE’s eco-team and his high school. He hopes to have a career in computer programming in the future.

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Nuha Umar

Nuha Umar is a high school student attending Etobicoke Collegiate Institute who has received the  honours award and geography award. She is a daughter, sister, aunt and friend. She has also volunteered at MABELLEarts for four years and is currently working as a summer student, where she has developed many skills such as problem solving, working as a team and meeting new people. Her love of art has increased with the years which has also made her more comfortable meeting and interacting with new people.


Ikram Gedi

Ikram is a resident of the Mabelle neighbourhood and is an incoming Grade 11 student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute. Outside of Mabelle, she plays basketball and is a volunteer babysitter. She is good at photography, Photoshop, and tech design. Her favourite memory at MABELLEarts is the singing and arts and crafts at Iftar nights. What she finds meaningful about working with MABELLEarts is giving back to the community and bringing it together.


Omar Jibril

Omar is a Grade 10 student at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute. He has been working and playing at MABELLEarts since he was 3 years old. Omar excels at working with kids and has an interest in public speaking.


Rozeta Aleksov

Rozeta has worked with municipalities across Europe and Serbia building capacities for government employees and decision-makers for the past eleven years.  She is a promoter of interdisciplinary approaches to find solutions for urban and social challenges.  Her training predominantly focuses on citizen participation, gender equality, human rights, and sustainable development. She holds a Masters in political science, public administration and local governance in public policy.


Fadwa Ghanem

Fadwa met Ruth Howard, artistic director of Jumblies Theatre, in November 2006 shortly after moving to Canada. Fadwa and her whole family were part of the Jumblies’ production Bridge of One Hair in 2007. After Jumblies moved on, she volunteered with MABELLEarts in the Mabelle Ladies Cooking Circle, Mabelle Sewing Room and in the park with her children. Fadwa is an expert at many types of cooking, and enjoys working with the other ladies in the Cooking Circle, cooking together in kitchens and over the open fire in the park;  we drink Fadwa’s sage tea at every special occasion. Since the summer of 2014, Fadwa has worked with MABELLEarts as a cooking coordinator, and continues to help with cooking, sewing and other projects. 

Building Skills and Experience

Community members who access employment with MABELLEarts are often new to the Canadian job world. Toronto Pearson’s investment has helped us offer much-needed training related to job-readiness, workplace safety, soft skills (i.e. arriving on time, workplace etiquette) group facilitation, human rights and anti-oppression. The resulting skills will be with them long after they’ve moved on in their careers.


  • Over 100 MABELLEarts volunteers (adults and youth) clock hundreds of volunteer hours and help enliven two underserved communities

  • MABELLEarts worked with organizations in five major Canadian cities to develop volunteer opportunities for hundreds of newcomers, refugees and asylum-seekers

    "My favourite part was getting to work personally with asylum-seeking families and seeing how little things can do a lot and make them happy” - MABELLEarts Youth Leader

Programs and Events

Iftar Nights

  • This year’s annual Iftar Nights on Mabelle Avenue benefited from an extended planning phase that brought community leaders into the heart of the planning and devising process. Support from GTAA helped us develop an extended cooking workshop series as well as collaborative creation sessions with artists and youth.

  • MABELLE Leaders hosted over 400 community members, funders and supporters over four nights—all of whom experienced the hospitality and inclusive practices that are at the heart of the MABELLE Leaders project.

  • Iftar Nights on Mabelle Avenue evaluations with community leaders pointed to a desire to share experiences with cooking teams across the city; collaborate with other newcomer cooking groups; and cook for the Mabelle community on a regular basis; especially low-income seniors.

Toronto Workshops, Camps and Events

  • 2305 attendees at Toronto workshops and events

  • Winter and Spring sewing and cooking workshops for 25 newcomer women

  • 6 weekly arts-based workshops for newcomer women, including textile arts and painting in partnership with the Arab Community Centre of Toronto

  • 54 newcomer youth attend performance workshops

Mobile MABELLE: Welcome to this Place

  • MABELLE Leaders travelled to Montreal and Vancouver to meet other newcomer youth and work with a range of organizations to produce workshops and events in urban parks and public spaces

  • 3880 newcomers and established Canadians engaged in arts-based workshops and events that promoted integration and community involvement across Canada.

A Morning on Mabelle Avenue

In March, Toronto Pearson and MABELLEarts teamed up to co-present A Morning on Mabelle Avenue to celebrate community leaders, volunteers and champions who are making a difference on Mabelle Avenue. Over 120 residents, friends and supporters came together to celebrate and acknowledge what makes our community so special. We were thrilled to welcome a number of champions from the public and private sector who continue to make a difference on Mabelle Avenue.

[Because of MABELLEarts] I am able to speak publicly. This allows me to speak to more people a teenager wouldn’t normally talk to, from seniors to  little children to artists to professionals. I have been able to support children with activities that I once had trouble with. From project to project I have discovered that I can pick up a new skill pretty quickly. Leah would say, I have this idea let's test it out, and my response without thinking will be - okay let's do it.

-Tasmeen Syed - Youth Leader - Speaking at A Morning on Mabelle Avenue

Update on our Capital Project

With support from the GTAA, MABELLEarts was able to develop an in-depth report exploring options for park ownership, leasing and ongoing partnership with Toronto Community Housing (current owners of Mabelle Park). The report also included an initial capital cost estimate and building operating budget. We’re in the midst of further negotiating a long-term strategy with TCH.

Other highlights include:

  • Further investment of over $100,000 from the City of Toronto;

  • Community committee hired LGA Architectural Partners to design building;

  • Meetings with TCH staff and City Councillors with support from Toronto Pearson Government Relations to determine land-ownership and governance;


  • Women who took part in cooking programs requested more intensive food service training, which we’re set to provide in year two.

  • We’re learning how to support a large summer team of young adults and will expand their workplace training in year two in order to respond to gaps we encountered in their training.

  • We continue to learn how to work effectively with Toronto Community Housing.


Project Partners

Arab Community Centre of Toronto
City of Toronto - Toronto Plaza Hotel Refugee Shelter
North York Community House
Rexdale Community Health Centre
Jumblies Theatre
Making Room Community Arts
Park People
Toronto Community Housing

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