Profile: Jamaican Ottawa Community Association

Jamaican Flag raising at City Hall 2015

Jamaican Flag raising at City Hall 2015



by Judith Headley

Aims and Objectives of J(O)CA

In keeping with the Corporations’ purpose, the aims and objectives of J(O)CA are:

  1. To promote amity, unity and loyalty among Jamaicans in the Ottawa area and its environs, and to develop and maintain closer relations between Jamaicans and Canadians.
  2. To establish and maintain official contacts with the Government of Jamaican through any of its official agencies.
  3. To better acquaint other nationalities with the Jamaican culture.
  4. To be active as a group with an effective voice in the affairs of the community and to cooperate with other national groups, and especially with groups with whom we share ethnic and cultural traditions, in pursuing common aims and objectives.
  5. To establish and maintain official contacts with other Jamaican Associations, and other groups with whom we share common objectives
  6. To establish a centre for social and cultural activities
  7. To give advisory assistance to Jamaican immigrants, and to others we feel are genuinely able to help and to provide general information (written or otherwise) to the community within the limits of this bylaw.
  8. To provide a forum for Jamaicans and others to participate in activities promoting the aims and objectives of the Corporation.
  1. Eligibility for membership – There are four (4) classes of members in the Corporation: General, Associate, Honorary, and Life.


  1. A person who is eligible for General Membership shall make application for such membership in writing to the Executive, which must approve by simple majority, for successful application.
  2. The term of membership for the General class shall be annual, and subject to renewal in accordance with the policies of the Corporation.
  3. The General voting member is entitled to receive notice of, to attend and to vote at all meetings of members and each such general class voting member shall be entitled to one (1) vote at such meeting.

The general membership shall be open to:

  1. All Jamaicans and their families.
  2. Members of a family where any one member is of Jamaican Parentage.


  1. Associate membership shall be open to any person who has expressed interest in supporting the aims and objectives of the Association, but does not fully participate in the activities of the Association.
  2. Such person shall be sponsored by a General Member, and the application for
    membership shall be made in writing to the Board of Directors, which must approve by a simple majority for successful application.
  3. The Associate members are non-voting members.


  1. The Executive on a simple majority may confer honorary membership upon any person whose service to the Association merits such an honour.
  2. An honorary member shall not hold any office nor shall he/she vote on each matter requiring a vote by the membership. 


Life membership may be awarded to any general member after fifteen (15) years of outstanding service to the Association on the recommendation of the Board of Directors and approval of a simple majority of the general membership.

Past, current and future programs and projects

Over the Years, J(O)CA has successfully run many programs within the association and also as outreach to the community. A great majority of the programs either fell within the Seniors portfolio or Healthy Lifestyles.  These programs saw the members: walking, bowling, exercising, youth soccer skills (with Rockers United Soccer Club) and computer training.  Many of these programs are still ongoing.

JOCA has also participated for many years in the Big Bike Ride in order to raise funds for the Heart and Stroke. Projects such as Under the Mango Tree with Jaku Konbit proved to be quite successful.  The Under the Mango Tree – Stories between the generations combined seniors and youth within a reading program.  Although the program is not continuous, members from the association still participate with Black History Ottawa during Black History Month for the story telling at the Nepean library at Centrepointe Drive.

The New Horizons for Seniors provided funding for J(O)CA to bring awareness of Elder Abuse to the community.  This was a very successful project as it provided the vehicle for not only seniors but other community members to share their experiences; as well as receiving the tools necessary to help themselves and family members.

J(O)CA is also supportive of a nanny in Jamaica.

Our annual JAMDAY event celebrates Jamaica’s independence.  JAMDAY is an initiative of the Jamaican (Ottawa) Community Association Inc. (J(O)CA); it has brought together a diverse group of individuals, businesses, non-government organizations, corporations to celebrate Jamaica’s Independence and the contribution Jamaicans have made to the Canadian mosaic. Jamaicans have joined with the local community in exploring, learning and sharing their culture traditional celebration the first weekend of August. This popular event is a wonderful opportunity to experience the rich culture of Jamaica trendy ‘Reggae’ music, folk dances, songs, stories, delicious Jamaican cuisine, traditional games and much more. The attraction to JAMDAY increases every year; for 2016 we are expecting an attendance over 3,000 patrons from Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and surrounding areas. This one of a kind event will be packed with fun and enjoyment for the whole family and is always an attraction for movers and shakers in our community like local business owners, politicians and the Mayor. For Jamday 2016 a portion of our entrance fees will be going to the Ottawa Food Bank.

Successes and challenges

Our events are successful and we have been fortunate to be able to collaborate with other organizations to put on functions, seminars as well as other information sessions. Our challenges is that our membership is declining and we need younger members with fresh ideas

Board of Directors

President – Mrs. Judith Headley

First VP – Mr. Courtney Williams

Second VP – Ms. Myra Flash

Third VP – Mr. Horace Roxborough

Secretary – Ms. Jennifer Dennis

Assistant Secretary – Ms. Eglan Grant

Contact info: phone, e-mail, web site



Twitter:  @JamaicanOttawa

211-404 McArthur Avenue

Ottawa, Ontario

K1K 1G8

Phone: 613-523-9085

About the writer

Judith Headley is President of the Jamaican Ottawa Community Association.

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