Updated Statement from Robert Assaf on the petition to re-open the Jim Durrell Recreation Center
My recent personal advocacy for kids’ recreational hockey facility re-openings at the expense of the homeless community sparked numerous conversations and controversy. These conversations and personal reflection have lead me to realize how wrong and selfish my approach was, particularly in light of the seriousness of the pandemic. Yesterday, I halted the advocacy on this point after hearing how tone-deaf I had been. I, and our stores have always been advocates for homeless-related causes, such as Foodsharing Ottawa, Eat More Soup, and The Shepherds of Good Hope, but that does not excuse my selfish perspective in promoting youth sports over homelessness.
I have had many conversations with family members, employees and community members about this subject and have used these conversations as a learning experience. When you’re wrong, you’re wrong. And I want to apologize to my family, the Kardish community and all of Ottawa for my insensitivity. To make amends, we will be doubling our contributions to homeless-related causes in Ottawa and most importantly, seeking opportunities to volunteer with my family with the appropriate homeless organizations.
I want to thank Councillors Brockington and Cloutier for educating me on a broader context on the need to use the Jim Durrell facility during the pandemic and more importantly, I want to thank the Ottawa community for calling me out on my selfish approach. I hope that in the fullness of time, I can earn back their trust and respect.