Armenian Relief Society
The Armenian Relief Society of Toronto - “Roubina” Chapter is a vibrant organization with over 400 members. The Toronto chapter was originally founded in 1924 when a group of Armenian orphans, known today as the Georgetown boys, arrived in Canada as survivors of the Armenian genocide. In 1963, the ARS Toronto Chapter was re-born, and in 1977 it was officially named the Armenian Relief Society “Roubina” Chapter. The ARS’ mission is to promote education, provide social services and empower women. The first educational endeavor of the ARS “Roubina” chapter was the establishment of the ARS Summer School, followed by the ARS Day School. As the ARS Day School flourished, the summer school evolved into the ARS Summer Camp. In addition to promoting education, the ARS “Roubina” chapter has established many awards and scholarships for Canadian-Armenian students with high academic achievement at the elementary, high school, university and post graduate levels. The chapter has also established a Social Services office, in order to meet the needs of the growing Toronto Armenian community and to implement both provincial and federal programs. The ARS “Roubina” Chapter provides financial and social support locally, nationally and internationally. Over the years, the chapter has donated generously to the many initiatives of ARS Central Executive in Armenia, Artsakh and Javakhk, such as establishing and continued funding for ARS Sosse Kindergarten, Mother and Child Birthing Centre, Sponsor-a-child, Sponsor-a-student, scholarships and awards for achievement in essay writing. The ARS “Roubina” chapter, as part of the ARS Canada Executive initiative, actively participates in the humanitarian efforts bringing forth generous funding for schools, hot meal programs for needy families and warm clothing for children in need. The Chapter also organizes lectures for its members and for the general public on a variety of cultural, social and health related issues and many annual functions, including: ARS Day, Requiem Service, Heritage Day-“Dohmig Or”, Annual Bazaar, Mother’s Day, International Women’s Day, Mentorship program, Professional and Personal Development Workshops, Mother and Baby program and celebrations of traditional Armenian holidays.
Executive Committee 2019-2020
Vice-chairperson & Secretary
Committees & Programs
The annual Bazaar takes place the first weekend of every November and welcomes thousands of visitors from the Armenian community and the greater public. The Annual Bazaar showcases many vendors, unique gifts, spices and foodstuff. There is hot homemade food each of the two days, with a unique specialty each day (Sunday is traditionally madzunov kufteh). To rent a table to showcase your merchandise during the weekend bazaar, please write to [email protected]. Throughout the year, the members prepare and sell various homemade food items each week. Some delicacies include manti (most Wednesdays by order), beoreg, kufteh and sweet bread with tahini. Orders can be placed by contacting the ARS Bazaar committee. The bazaar committee also has a boutique shop for unique Armenian gift items for all your birthday, housewarming, anniversary or baptism needs. The boutique is located on the 3rd floor at the Armenian Community Centre, and is open for your convenience Tuesdays from 11-1pm. You can stay connected to the ongoing Bazaar activities by following the Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/arstorontochristmas# Funds raised during the Bazaar activities are used to support the ARS Day School and the multitude of other social programs offered locally and internationally by ARS.
Dohmig Or is translated as Heritage Day and has been celebrated annually for the past 24 years. ARS “Roubina” Chapter of Toronto strongly believes that they must live and experience our heritage and culture in order to celebrate it and pass it on to the next generations. Each year they choose an area of historical Armenia, and introduce the food, costume, history, stories, heroes and music of the region to our community. As it prepares for these celebrations, the committee unearths a vast amount of research and resources which are published and available for sale through ARS “Roubina” executive. The booklets are a great reference resource providing each region’s geographical and historical overview and includes many maps, photos, pictorial representation of unique artwork, biographies of notable people of the region, articles, churches, educational institutions, monuments, costume, customs, recipes, and so much more than can possible be listed here. These publications are only possible through generous contributions by sponsors within our community.
The ARS Social Services believes that people thrive when they have access to information, tools and resources to enhance their health and well-being. Thus, they serve as a connection point for community members to identify and access financial, health and other services and support. Confidential consultations are provided by a Community Resource Counsellor who works to identify appropriate services, make connections and advocate as needed. Anyone facing social, financial, physical and mental health issues is eligible for service. All services are private, confidential and free of charge.
- Employment services: resume preparation, liaising with employers
- Communications: email, Facebook, telephone, person-to-person, etc.
- Citizenship preparation classes: our Syrian immigrant population is now near completion of their 3 year residency and is actively seeking assistance with citizenship preparation services.
- Seniors: Recreational programs, social and community engagement, connecting needs with resources (i.e. wheel trans applications, seniors supports, support care referrals).
- Youth: In connection with the Armenian Youth Centre, support the integration of vulnerable youth to community sports and recreational programs. Educational workshops on bullying, depression and drug abuse to name a few.
- Housing: working with families to find affordable housing, employment referrals, settlement assistance with finding donations of clothing, furniture, encouraging and connecting to community recreational and social groups to encourage the feeling of belonging.
- Translational services for families who need to go for appointments or complete official paperwork.
- Social Services application assistance for vulnerable families, abused spouses, children’s care and healthcare supports
- Services related to completing various applications for our clients, including but not limited to OAS, OW, Child benefits, etc.
Since 1979, the Armenian Relief Society has been welcoming Armenian children between the ages of 4 – 14 years old in its Summer Camp program, “Jampar”, providing a safe, nurturing and fun day camp with access to large open outdoor spaces, and modern facilities. The familiar and welcoming environment is the perfect setting for building your child’s confidence and the age-appropriate programs allow them to treat each camper as an individual, from toddler to tween. The summer camp, Jampar, is run by qualified and trained staff which include the camp director, counselors, KinderCare givers, and volunteers who are all bilingual in Armenian and English, as well as enthusiastic, caring and eager to engage your children throughout the summer to ensure an optimal Armenian-Canadian camp experience. Various sports and leadership programs, water and sand play, culturally unique Arts and Crafts, music and dance, are just some of the many amazing activities planned for the summer program. Weekly special events, theme days and trips ensure that children have memorable, happy experiences throughout our 8 WEEK program. In addition to the benefit that summer camps have to a child’s social and emotional development, Jampar provides Armenian-Canadian children an opportunity to establish and maintain a connection with their culture and to help them embrace their identity, thus increasing their confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem. ARS provides a culturally unique summer camp experience where children of Armenian heritage can bond, make friends, learn, grow and have fun together. To learn more about the ARS Summer Camp, please visit www.arssummercamp.com. You can also contact them directly by emailing: [email protected].
In 2010, ARS “Roubina” Chapter started celebrating International Women’s Day by holding an event on the Sunday before the March 8th of each year. Each year, the organizing committee invites a Honourary Guest Speaker who occupies a diverse and increasingly dynamic range of different roles such as economists, advisors, producers, scholars, presidents, CEO’s to name a few. The following is a list of our 2010-2017 Honourary Guest Speakers and their titles at the time of the event:
- 2010 - Dr. Ann Cavoukian, Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
- 2011 - Armine Yalnizyan, MIR Senior Economist
- 2012 - Rita S. Karakas, Senior Advisor, Corporate Affairs & Business Development a the Macdonald-Laurier Institute
- 2013 - Silva Basmajian, Executive Producer at the National Film Board of Canada, Ontario Centre
- 2014 - Annie Demirjian, Practice Leader - Democratic Governance United Nations Development Programme
- 2015 - Sona Zeitlian, Independent Scholar, Specializing in the history of Armenian women
- 2016 - Diane Kazarian, National Financial Services Leader, PwC's Global Financial Service Brand Leader
- 2017 - Pamela Postian Jeffery, President of the Pamela Jeffery Group, Founder of WXN, Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 and the Canadian Board Diversity Council.
- 2018 - Maral Ouzounian, Cardiovascular and Aortic Surgeon @ Peter Munk Cardiac Centre, Surgeon Scientist @ University Health Network, Assistant Professor of Surgery @ University of Toronto
- 2019 - Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction, Women's Executive Network (WXN) Canada's Most Powerful Women Top 100TM Award Recipient 2018
INSPIRE seeks to engage women within the Armenian community to create opportunities for personal and professional development. The program offers educational events and workshops and coordinates a one-to-one professional mentorship program. The motto is simple: Engage. Connect. Empower. The ARS Toronto “Roubina” Chapter has been a foundational pillar of the local Armenian community, relying on a predominantly female membership of 400+ volunteers. INSPIRE allows the chapter to tap into the diverse education, experience and skill set of our membership to help one another thrive. To learn more about the A.R.S. INSPIRE mentorship program or to submit your application, please visit www.arsinspire.com. You can also contact email: [email protected].