Better to Give then to Receive

December 18, 2009 11:55 am

Hoopla Guru Lainie Towell gave the gift of Ottawa Life, and introduced her new company Stunt Woman
in a Pencil Skirt
, on one of December’s most frigid mornings. It’s not everyday that you find a tinsel clad
woman offering presents (with Ottawa Life Magazine subscriptions inside) outside your car when you are
stuck in traffic! This live product placement initiative definitely caught commuters’ attention, and warmed
them up to SWiaPS theatrical approach to PR. Ottawa Life will never be the same!

The Canadian War Museum : An Inspirational Walk Through Time

October 7, 2009 12:00 am

In a quiet corner of the Canadian War Museum, Julian Krajewski stares at a poster from the Second World War. “Yes, you boys and girls can help win the war,” the poster declared. Krajewski, a 16-year-old resident of suburban Montreal, scrutinized the poster with 21st-century eyes. “That’s actually a really good ad,” he said finally. “It hits everyone. It’s cool.”

High praise from a smart boy who, until a recent visit to Ottawa, was more familiar with World of Warcraft than with any human war. When I accompanied him around the museum, I was struck by a few things he already knew – and a lot he didn’t. What little history he had studied in school had mostly concentrated on New France. Julian didn’t know there had ever been a devastating explosion in Halifax in 1917 and he’d never heard of the Korean War. He was surprised to learn about the forced relocation of Japanese Canadians in the 1940s, and intrigued to discover that Canada had once had a prime minister (Lester Pearson) who was also a Nobel laureate.

Informing and inspiring young people like Krajewski is a key part of the War Museum’s mandate. For, whether they like it or not, the young are the recipients – and sometimes the victims – of history. In its previous incarnation on Sussex Drive, the museum could show off only a small part of its extensive collections. Sure, Hitler’s black limo was on display – but the vast majority of paintings and artefacts languished in storage. While the old museum appealed mainly to those few people who already knew a lot about Canada’s military history, it didn’t have the money or the space to attract a large audience.

The new museum – it opened its doors on LeBreton Flats in May 2005 – has wider ambitions. It aims to tell a coherent story about Canada and Canadians and how they have been affected by war and conflict. And to judge by the attendance figures, it has been doing a superb job. Each year about 500,000 people pass through its doors – roughly four times the number who bought tickets to the old museum.

Equally important, the War Museum is now a key destination for Canadians from outside Ottawa who are visiting the nation’s capital. “You could say it’s a place of secular pilgrimage,” suggests Mark O’Neill, the museum’s Director General. Part of the reason involves the homage the museum pays to our fighting men and women from past decades and centuries. Beyond this, its displays emphasize the huge impact that armed conflict has had on all Canadians, including those who never left the home front. We can question the usefulness of war, but we can’t deny its reach.

Unlike some of the nation’s older galleries and museums, the War Museum is determined to be user-friendly. No guards rush in to stop a proud father taking pictures of his daughters as they pose amid the silver twilight of a World War One trench. Nobody stops a little boy loudly explaining the intricacies of a model warship to his baffled mother. The sense of pilgrimage coexists with a sense of discovery.

When Krajewski began his tour of the museum, he was interested mainly in the hardware. “Do you know the parts of a gun?” he asked a friend, expertly pointing out the locking lever on a model from a century ago. The unusual shape of a Polish mine detector aroused his highest praise – “See how cool that looks?”

Canadian War MuseumBut as the teenager made his way around the six main galleries, he became more and more intrigued by the human element. From the tiny teddy bear kept by a Canadian soldier in the First World War to the well-hidden face of Soviet defector Igor Gouzenko, the displays show the very personal consequences of world events. They also give physical coherence to the museum’s vision of our national history. By the time Krajewski reached the austere silence of Memorial Hall, he was ready to ponder the tombstone of an unknown Canadian soldier who died in Europe nearly a century ago, whose remains now rest at the foot of the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

In its gallery for temporary shows, the museum is now presenting an exhibit on camouflage. Featuring such items as a chiffon gown and a Christian Dior bikini with camouflage motifs, the exhibit stretches the notion of “military history” far beyond its usual limit. Krajewski was impressed by the papier-mâché head of a British soldier smoking a cigarette. “That’s cool,” he said with a slight grin.

By the time he left the museum, he was willing to say the same about a lot of its contents.

Canada Army Run

September 18, 2009 10:14 am

Jody Mitic, a soldier who lost both legs below the knee after stepping on a landmine in Afghanistan two-and-a-half years ago, has set his sights on completing his first-ever half marathon, in Canada Army Run, on September 20. Fitted with two prosthetic legs, Mitic will be joining 10,000 civilians and military personnel in what many describe as the most unique running event in Canada. From the canon used as a “starter’s pistol” to the dog-tag finishers’ medals, this run has a military theme from start to finish, and provides a great opportunity to say “thanks” to the men and women who do so much for us at home and abroad. Find out more at

Feeling Your Pain

September 10, 2009 10:03 pm

Dr. Hillel M. Finestone, an Ottawa doctor and specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Bruyère Continuing Care, Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital, is the author of a new book called The Pain Detective, Every Ache Tells a Story: Understanding How Stress and Emotional Hurt Become Chronic Physical Pain. Taking the reader into several diagnostic sessions to illustrate what he sees as a “detective” process to find the source of pain, Finestone explains how psychological and social issues can influence health and healing, for better or worse. Low back and neck pain, fibromyalgia and work-related pains are delved into as Dr. Finestone exposes the deficits in current thinking about “chronic pain” and refreshingly allows the reader to partake in patients’ health journeys. In addition, he offers realistic, practical solutions. Published by Praeger ABCCLIO
(US), The Pain Detective will be available at the end of September online at or

Girls Night In

June 28, 2009 5:40 am

Girls Night In, from The Canadian Cancer Society (Ontario Division), is a flexible fundraising program in support of women’s cancer research. Unlike other fundraising programs, Girls Night In works with any schedule or lifestyle, by inviting you to host a get-together with the girls and to ask your guests to donate what they might typically spend on a night out. You get to decide how, when, and where to hold your Girls Night In. For more information visit where you will find online event registration, a downloadable host kit, party theme ideas and e-vites. The site also features an online community for hosts, a photo and video gallery and a link to the Canadian Cancer Society’s E-Boutique where you can buy Canadian Cancer Society and Girls Night In merchandise to further support the program’s fundraising efforts.

Celebrate the Year of the OX at the NAC with the SPRING FESTIVAL GALA 2009

January 13, 2009 4:00 pm

In a highly anticipated celebration of the Chinese New Year, the Canada China Art Association will present an enchanting performance of Chinese artists at the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall, at 8pm on January 16th. The Spring Festival Gala 2009 ( is an extraordinary production with stunning costumes and mesmerizing backdrops that draw the audience through a sequence of eras honouring the cultural diversity of China and sharing its beauty with the world. The China Broadcasting Performing Arts Troupe, with Members of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, will showcase seven traditional Chinese instruments. Performances include a group of young girls (from the recently affected earthquake region of Sichuan) who invoke the history of their region through traditional dance. Don’t miss the distinctive throat singing talent of the Mongolian male singing group Black Speed. Acrobats, dancers, singers and musicians make up the full cast of this truly spectacular cultural experience — for the whole family.

Tickets for the Spring Festival Gala 2009 are available from the NAC Box Office, Ticketmaster and local Chinese community outlets. Corporate seating may be arranged through the Spring Festival Gala Organizing Committee at 613-216-1243 and info@

Reel Women

3:45 pm

From January 2-31, 2009, Ottawa photographer Gavin Murphy will exhibit his latest works entitled Reel Women at Francesco’s Coffee Company (857- A Bank Street) in support of CanHave Children’s Centre. Since 1994, the Ottawa-based charity CanHave has continued its benevolent work improving the lives of Ugandan HIV/AIDS-affected orphans through care and educational support. CanHave has been raising funds to support children orphaned by the AIDS virus through education (school fees and uniforms), medicine, food and clothing, and special projects. His photographs capture real women mostly from Ottawa and surrounding areas using reels of traditional 35 mm film. Murhpy’s presentation of images that are “untouched, uncropped and unplugged,” as the renowned photographer puts it, are a signature of his work. What the viewer sees is exactly what was framed and what the camera captured in its totality. This is a unique aspect of Murphy’s images given the popularity of digital cameras and computerbased image enhancement software, setting his work apart from much of today’s photography. n To give to CanHave in support of Ugandan HIV/AIDS affected orphans visit:

Ottawa-born Keshia Chanté bares her SOUL

3:42 pm

Ottawa-born R&B artist Keshia Chanté is getting ready to bare her SOUL on the small screen. The Juno Award winner will take on her first major acting role in a new six-part drama series, premiering Feb. 11 on VisionTV. Filmed in Halifax, SOUL stars Chanté as a young gospel singer on the verge of leaving the safety of church and family for the fast and dangerous track to pop stardom. ER’s Michael Beach is also part of the cast. With her third album due for worldwide release and a jewelry line in the works, it looks like 2009 could be a breakout year for the 20-year-old songstress.

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