How Parliament’s roof is transforming lives.

How Parliament’s roof is transforming lives.

Article from: OLM - Ottawa Life Magazine

Written by: Analise Saavedra

Posted: September 29, 2022


By Analise Saavedra

Unity, inclusion, and equality are terms associated with the ideal future for all Canadians. However, this goal cannot be met without the leadership, innovation, and compassion of organizations determined to find practical ways to pursue equality.

In 1956, the creation of the Ottawa-Carleton Association for Persons with Developmental Disabilities (OCAPDD) transformed the lives of countless individuals with developmental disabilities. OCAPDD began with the determination of a small group of parents to ensure their children received an education. This fight for inclusion led OCAPDD to become the most extensive and longest-running association of its kind in Ottawa.

Today, OCAPDD empowers individuals with developmental disabilities through work programs like Under One Roof and values community integration through various support systems.

Under One Roof lives up to its name by connecting individuals to their passions and talents through the provision of a meaningful place in the workforce. The program was created in 1996 when Public Works Canada gifted OCAPDD half of Parliament’s roof.

You might think that half a roof doesn’t sound like much of a gift, but the material that protected and adorned our beloved Parliament building for almost 80 years is copper. 

Upon receiving the offer, OCAPDD purchased a workshop. The space is equipped to cut shapes from the old copper roof and repurpose them as pins providing specialized, hands-on job experience. The viridescent glow of the oxide in the copper catches the eye of visitors to the Parliamentary Boutique and Maker House, where the maple-leaf-shaped pins are available for purchase.

OCAPDD has also creatively incorporated copper into an array of alternate designs such as keychains, birdhouses, and cellphone holders. Their designs also support other Ottawa-based businesses subcontracted to insetting the copper cutouts.

Most importantly, Under One Roof provides priceless experiences for men and women with developmental disabilities by facilitating positive environments where they can build confidence and experience equal treatment. According to Jocelyne Lewis, the Director of Community Resources at OCAPDD, the best part of the Under One Roof program is the sense of inclusion for the participants: “They’re employed, they’re part of the community, and they are giving back. They just want to do like all of us: go to work every day and get paid; it’s very important.”

Under One Roof staff

From pins to wags

A second OCAPDD equitable social enterprise, Hearty Tails, prepares gourmet pet treats. Hearty Tails are made from fresh, natural, locally sourced human-grade ingredients with no food colour, chemical preservatives, antibiotics, or fillers. The gluten-free treats have a following of happy pet owners who purchase them for the quality without even thinking about the good cause. 

In addition to creating work opportunities for individuals that would otherwise be unemployed, OCAPDD offers its clients day programs that explore life skills and community relationships, creative classes such as pottery and art, agricultural experience through planting and gardening, and cooking classes, all at Silver Spring Farms in the city’s west end.  

From employment services like Under One Roof and community integration, OCAPDD is an essential organization fostering an inclusive, positive, and caring Ottawa community.

Hearty Tails is a sister enterprise that manufactures wholesome quality pet treats.


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