A Brief History of Ancoura

Our history began in February 2007 with an information session in St. Joseph’s church basement led by L’Abri en Ville from Montreal.  The audience was especially moved by the testimony of residents from L’Abri en Ville, which has been providing housing and support for people living with mental illness since 1991.  This meeting led to other meetings, monthly, and the growth of a supportive community for people living with mental illness. In the fall of 2007, we held a visioning retreat at which we articulated our mission, values, principles, and vision.  These items formed the basis of the organization going forward.  In 2008, we chose our name and became incorporated.  We also elected our first Board of Directors and officers.  Rick Haughian was elected as the first president of Ancoura, while Brian Harrison became vice president and Jane O’Brian treasurer.  In the same year, we opened our first office at the Bronson Centre in downtown Ottawa, hired our first coordinator (Amanda Carver), and became a registered charity.

In September 2009, we opened our first home, renting a three-bedroom townhouse in the east end of Ottawa from the Canadian Mental Health Association (Ottawa Branch).  One of the residents asked how long he could stay in his new residence and was amazed to find out that he could stay as long as he wanted.  In October 2010 we opened our second residence in the west end of Ottawa (Henry Farm).  In November that same year, we hosted the three other organizations from Quebec that formed the L’Abri network.  We talked about progress, challenges, and common ground in providing housing and support for people living with mental illness.

In November 2011, we opened our third residence, and first women’s residence, in the same neighbourhood as the second residence.  The annual report for 2011-2012 provides an idea of the relationships that were developing at that time.

“Residents enjoyed museum trips, outings to nearby towns, a hockey game, a pool party, winter festivals, birthday celebrations, a sugar shack trip, and even a dog show!  Regular events included coffee visits, movies, shopping, billiards, and much more.  Group meals at each of the homes helped us grow as communities.  At each house, one-on-one time allowed residents and volunteers the chance to know each other and build relationships outside the group setting”.

In 2012, we continued our growth, opening a fourth home in Parkwood Hills.  In 2013, Ancoura was the proud recipient of an Inspiration Award (community category) from the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health.  The award recognizes individuals and groups that have had an impact locally in the mental health field.  The first gala dinner, held at the Carleton Golf and Yacht Club, also took place in 2013.

The opening of Ancoura’s fifth home took place during the fiscal year September 1, 2014 to August 31, 2015.  It was the second women’s home.  The sixth home was opened in the fall of 2016, while the seventh home was opened in 2018.

Mission Statement

Our mission at Ancoura is to provide a nurturing and fulfilling environment for persons living with mental illness, through stable, affordable housing and a supportive community.

Vision Statement

We are a community of residents, volunteers and staff committed to establishing stable, affordable housing and a supportive community for people living with a mental illness in Ottawa.  We are dedicated to nurturing resident growth from isolation to inclusion, from stigma to acceptance and from uncertainty to trust.