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.

Leave a Reply

  • Posted On September 18, 2020 by Paul McGuire

    If you really wanted to do some good you could advocate for the kids who have just lost their programming at Dempsey Community Centre. While you do have your arena back, kids in the economically disadvantaged neighbourhood around Dempsey have now lost their source for recreation programming. Step up and help out.

  • Posted On August 07, 2020 by Anon

    Too little, too late. You have shown excessive entitlement and lack of knowledge on how the community has been affected by a heath related issue. Clearly, you only care about the elite’s health and not that of those who cannot afford your products.

  • Posted On August 04, 2020 by still disappointed

    You still deserve to lose substantial business for this, and I feel sincerely sorry for your employees whose livelihood will now be affected by your sense of superiority. Your “advocacy” put you and your children on a pedestal above SO many members of your cherished “community”. The fact that you continued to defend yourself until you realized this petition would cost you business speaks VOLUMES.

  • Posted On August 04, 2020 by Reginald Smith

    You can take “sorry” and stuff it.

  • Posted On August 03, 2020 by Jack K

    I hope this is a sincere and real apology — the tone of this statement makes me feel like it is. I’d like to see you put your money where your mouth is and be very public with your reparations to the homeless community in Ottawa. There is too much hate in the world for me to want to continue to vilify you so long as you follow through with educating yourself and your children, and making amends to those less fortunate in our community.

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