Turtle House Art/Play Centre - A Special Arts Program for Children and Parents Coming from Regions of Conflict


Turtle House Art/Play Centre (also known as Turtle House) was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2005. 

Turtle House has consulted with and continues to receive support for our art-based organization from key agencies in the immigrant and refugee sectors, including OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.

Turtle House Art/Play Centre identifies schools and neighbourhoods with a significant population of refugee families to offer programs.
Turtle House held successful programs in Toronto – in East York, in Victoria Village (Victoria Park & Lawrence Ave. East), and more recently in the Don Mills and Sheppard Avenue East area. 


Turtle House has been supported by various Foundations, community and public institutions, and individuals, and through our annual fundraising concert – ‘Open to the World: A Musical Journey’.

Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church, Laidlaw Foundation, United Way of Toronto, McLean Foundation, Toronto Arts Council and 736 Outreach Corporation. 


Tamam McCallum

Executive Director

Email: turtlehouse@sympatico.ca  

Mission, Vision & Values


Turtle House Art/Play Centre is a unique art-based organization in Toronto, designed primarily for children and families from refugee backgrounds to explore their creativity, play, express themselves and make meaningful  connections.

Turtle House envisions and is dedicated to playing a vital role in building a Toronto where:

  • refugees and immigrants are welcomed
  • arts flourish in every neighbourhood and people are encouraged to explore their creativity
  • resources exist to facilitate the healing of children and families from refugee backgrounds or those who have experienced conflict and trauma
  • individuals and families connect with each other across cultures and build peaceful communities


Turtle House is committed to:

  • providing a positive and supportive environment for children to engage in creative expression
  • celebrating diversity
  • fostering respect for children and families from many different ethno-racial, cultural and faith backgrounds
  • exposing children to a variety of art forms, such as, painting, clay work,  puppets and music
  • providing a flexible structure and valuing the agency of children in selecting activities
  • ensuring accessibility by providing supports ( e.g. TTC tickets, interpreters, refreshments)
  • building community by nurturing meaningful connections amongst children, parents, artists and other program facilitators
  • modeling effective ways to handle conflict and encouraging peace-building
  • holding ourselves accountable to the children and parents we serve
  • working collaboratively with others who share our vision

Board of Directors

Janisha Kamalanathan, President

Tearney McDermott, Secretary

Jelena Martens

Shirin Haghgou

Tamara Sabarini