“10 Stories of Possibility” – Salim Charabati

The OrKidstra logo with the word "Possibility" underneath

OrKidstra Board Member Salim Charabati with his wife Reem and their children Mira and Carlos.

In honour of our 10th Anniversary year, and our 10 Leading Notes, here is the eighth of 10 very special stories about the wonderful possibilities that can happen at OrKidstra! We took a short break in September to get OrKidstra programming started up again, but look out for a new story of possibility each month and click here for the previous stories.

For this month’s story, we’re focusing on OrKidstra Board Member and new Canadian Salim Charabati. Born in Lebanon, Salim moved to Canada in 2014 with his wife Reem to raise their children Mira and Carlos. Like many of OrKidstra’s students, Salim feels that OrKidstra is helping him to find “a deep sense of purpose” in his journey as a new Canadian.

“I first became aware of OrKidstra in January 2015 during a Strategic Marketing course with Guy Laflamme at Telfer’s Executive MBA program. I needed less than a minute to connect with the El Sistema approach and with what Tina [Fedeski], Gary [McMillen] and Margaret [Tobolowska] have developed here in Ottawa. I wanted to get involved with OrKidstra because of the extraordinary people and mission of OrKidstra. Of course, seeing the students performing was the real turning point. Afterwards, it was only a matter of time for the relationship to develop. Respect for diversity and pluralism is deeply rooted in my upbringing and personal values, which I owe to the cultural richness of my home country Lebanon. Therefore, when looking at OrKidstra, I see myself part of this diversity and take pride in being able to recognize and value the tremendous potential of such a cultural richness.”

In his role as a volunteer on OrKidstra’s Board of Directors, Salim brings experience in management, operations, and strategic planning to the organization, but he feels that volunteering is helping him to achieve his personal goals as well. “Volunteering provides me confidence in my own values,” he says. “Giving back or paying it forward creates a strong and non-materialistic bond with other community members. In this way, OrKidstra helps me to maintain courage and sense of leadership in my undertakings, which, certainly influences my personal life and career. ‘Possibility’ is perhaps the one word I would choose to describe OrKidstra among many others including love, joy, respect, outreach, diversity, community, etc.”

A group of 11 men and women smiling at the camera.

OrKidstra’s Board of Directors from left to right: Raymond Murray, David Van Dine, Jeff Heynen, Lynda Heyden-Carroll, Leslie Ram, Executive & Artistic Director of OrKidstra Tina Fedeski, Claire Marshall, Penelope Feather, Salim Charabati, Jane Anido and Ed Ogonek.

Salim also feels that volunteering with OrKidstra is helping him to connect deeply with what it means to be Canadian.OrKidstra provides each of our students with a unique opportunity to find their path and shine. Our children come from a wide diversity of backgrounds and many of their families are new to Canada. Through music learning, genuine care, practice and the act of playing music together, OrKidstra nurtures each child with self-confidence and sense of community. The impact is tangible whether through the children’s individual growth or their musical excellence. Moreover, my personal values fit with OrKidstra’s mission. Working in such a compatible environment provides me a deep sense of purpose beyond family and career, and certainly marks our Canadian journey.”

Salim encourages everyone in the Ottawa area to get to know OrKidstra’s work “Start by learning more about the work of OrKidstra and how the children grow, play and work together. Then, if you feel connected, there are many ways to be involved with OrKidstra. As a fan, you can attend our concerts and events. You can volunteer at our hubs, with event production. As a supporter, you can tell others about us. You can become a donor and then an influencer who encourages others to donate. You can follow us on social media and share our posts and stories so more and more people know about us, support us and enjoy seeing the children playing music. You can volunteer in one of our committees and working groups, and perhaps join our board. If you have a broad and powerful network, you can introduce us to companies who share our values and who could become our corporate sponsors and long-term supporters. It is just great and fun to be around OrKidstra!”