Canada: Apartheid Nation in Review

November 30, 2011 3:45 pm

Faced with extreme poverty and a harsh climate, the remote, decaying and polluted northern Ontario aboriginal community of Attawapiskat has become a national cause célèbre, one month after the Ottawa premiere of a 26-minute documentary entitled Canada: Apartheid Nation, which depicts the plight of the inhabitants of this depressed community on the desolate western shore of James Bay. The screening – held in the Auditorium of Library and Archives Canada on October 26th – was co-sponsored by the Canadian Film Institute and Ottawa Life Magazine.

The lack of appropriate weather-resistant housing in Attawapiskat as winter settles in has prompted community leaders to declare a state of emergency, a move that has since attracted saturation media coverage and belated federal government attention. The Red Cross is delivering emergency blankets and heaters to those living in substandard housing. Sadly, Attawapiskat is but one of many such remote aboriginal settlements that one would expect to find in the Third World, and not in a “caring and compassionate” First World nation such as Canada.

A recent selection at the Toronto Indie Film Festival (which runs alongside the Toronto International Film Festival), Canada: Apartheid Nation exposes the truth about horrendous living conditions in remote northern First Nations communities: Third World conditions in a First World country. While living next to one of the richest diamond mines in the world, the community of Attawapiskat faces poverty, homelessness, despair, pollution, substandard education and decaying infrastructure, according to director Angela O’Leary and producer Laurie Stewart for Sagesse Productions of Ottawa.

The Attawapiskat First Nation is representative of the product of an archaic federal government department of ‘Indian’ Affairs: the filmmakers claim that the department’s policies systemically discriminate against Canada’s First Nations peoples. However, there are heroes from within the aboriginal community (from children to Chiefs) who are working quietly and surely to effect great change, no longer expecting help from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).

Dan Donovan, publisher of Ottawa Life Magazine, introduced the film to a packed house:

Canada: An Apartheid Nation

“After this fantastic short film by Sagesse Productions was premiered at the 2011 Toronto Indie Film Festival, audiences were perplexed, shocked, stunned and saddened by its depiction of the dreadful living conditions in Attawapiskat, a remote Cree community on the eastern shore of James Bay in Northern Ontario. Once I saw Canada: Apartheid Nation, I wanted to do whatever I could to get it out there, as the plight of Canada’s aboriginal community is extremely distressing and attention should be paid. Angela O’Leary – a very successful businesswoman and entrepreneur in the high-tech field – approached Ottawa Life Magazine and asked if we could help her promote Canada: Apartheid Nation. Ottawa Life had been running a series on Aboriginal Pathways for the last year and a half and was only too happy to oblige. I was also quite intrigued that this businesswoman would go to such a remote community in the middle of winter and put this film together.

“The distressing fact of the matter is that in this country, aboriginal people are living in Third World conditions,” Donovan continued. “Over 40% of Canada’s aboriginal population does not have access to safe drinking water. The highest suicide rates in the country are in aboriginal communities. There is still a very paternalistic attitude towards the aboriginal community… indifference on the part of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, or an attitude of – out of sight, out of mind. The Auditor General of Canada has said repeatedly that the solution to this problem is getting rid of the department of Indian Affairs, which has an annual budget of $18 billion and is mostly staffed by white guys. Trouble is, these guys aren’t doing their jobs – and they are being very well paid not to do their jobs. So power should be transferred to Canada’s aboriginal community to take responsibility for their own affairs.

Attawapiskat Sign

“It’s obvious from this film that there are some people who care, but caring isn’t enough,” Donovan summed up. “We need to collectively demand change and accountability. People at Indian Affairs need to be removed if they are not doing their jobs. Here we have an $18-billion-a-year department, and yet many of the people INAC is supposedly responsible for have been living in abject poverty for decades.”

Director Angela O’Leary attended the screening to introduce and discuss her film.

“As Canadians, we stand up for people all over the world – we stand up for human rights,” O’Leary said. “It’s a Canadian trait that we’ve embraced and this is all very well and good. We feel strongly about helping those in other countries but have we forgotten about our own fellow citizens? Do we feel it is acceptable to neglect our own people?  We build schools in Afghanistan but won’t build them on aboriginal reserves, which must wait months – and often years – to receive funding approval from Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.  I recently interviewed Cindy Blackstock, executive director of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada. She posed a really important question: ‘Are we willing to trade off buying fighter jets and organizing expensive international summits to provide all our people with equal access to health care, education and clean water?’ I sincerely hope the film will shed some light on this question… the most pressing issue of our time.”

For more information, visit

Flaunting it all for a Friend

November 22, 2011 10:43 am

Underwear models, pole dancers and eyebrow threading; Flaunt is not your average charity event.

Flaunt is the brainchild of Stacey Bafi-Yeboa, local fashion designer of the brand Kania. Bafi-Yeboa was inspired to throw a fashion fête, now in its third year, in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada after a friend was diagnosed with the disease.

Stacey shaking it!

The event, held at the Ottawa Convention Centre, was the ultimate girls-night-out. Women of all ages and even some men were treated to “upscale glamour”, which was also the dress code. A $40 ticket more than paid for itself in a complementary manicure, hair blow-out, make-over, skin care treatment and an eyebrow threading.

A candy counter was set up for guests to make do-it-yourself treat bags. But a whole other treat was the eye-candy parading around; two male models strutted in men’s designer underwear by Dylan Ribkoff, a Canadian brand.

A series of pole dancers, from Cherry Blossom Pole Dancing Studio Inc. spun beside the DJ, while attendees browsed tables displaying Canadian-based clothing and accessories. The featured vendors donated a portion of their sales to the charity, according to Marilou Moles, the event’s social media representative.

Pole Dancing

Bafi-Yeboa is a regular Ottawa Fashion Week participant and her passion for the Canadian fashion scene is ubiquitous in all she does. “[This event] supports the national pride,” said Moles.

Eight looks from Bafi-Yeboa’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection , first seen at Ottawa Fashion Week in September, were auctioned off in name of the cause. In Stacey’s signature glamourous style, models grooved onto the dance floor wearing feather headdresses, while the designer danced in the middle of it all.

Flaunt made a typical Friday night in Ottawa chic, luxurious, and fashionable. Bafi-Yeboa put on an intimate affair for over 600 Ottawans. Each attendee left feeling special, beautiful and proud to have been part of this woman to woman initiative, which reflected Bafi-Yeboa’s mantra: to make every woman feel radiant.

Supporting Our Youth

November 18, 2011 2:57 pm

Growing up is not easy. As adults, we sometimes forget how many challenges youth face on a daily basis.

Since the tragic suicide of 15 year old Jamie Hubley on October 14th, many questions have been raised. How could this have been prevented? Where could Jamie have turned to for help?

Where can youth go if they are dealing with depression, if they are experiencing suicidal thoughts? Where can kids go if they do not feel safe at home? How can they address homophobic bullying in their schools?

Luckily, Ottawa has many resources available for youth. Many organizations work with youth; here are just a few of them:

PTS-Pink Triangle Services

Pink Triangle Youth (Twitter: @PTSOttawa)

Pink Triangle Youth (PTY) is a drop-in youth group for people ages 12-24, organized through Ottawa’s Pink Triangle Services. It is a safe, sex positive space for queer youth. Every Wednesday, anywhere between 25 and 40 youth attend this drop-in group.

Merissa Taylor-Meissner is the Senior Coordinator of Pink Triangle Youth (PTY). She works with other volunteers to organize workshops and facilitate discussions among participants.

“The workshops are about issues that queer youth face today, such as coming out, bullying, mental health stigma, what kind of resources are available and how to reach out to friends who might be suffering”, explains Taylor-Meissner. “We also do fun ones, like feminism, kink 101, and sexual health. We make sure to cover a wide variety of topics.

Taylor-Meissner shares that, for many queer youth who come from a place where their sexual orientation or their gender identity isn’t accepted, PTY is the only place that they feel like they can be themselves. “”If you come from a place where you aren’t accepted, attending a group with people who have had similar experiences helps you feel like you can be yourself and creates a safe space,” says Taylor-Meissner.

Pink Triangle Services is a very small organization that offers many programs and services, not just for youth. They are always looking for donations or volunteers to assist in their programming efforts.

Pink Triangle Youth takes place every Wednesday, from 7pm to 9pm at 251 Bank Street.

Jer’s Vision

Jer’s Vision (Twitter: @jersvision)

Is there an issue with bullying at your local high school? If so, Jer’s Vision can help. Canada’s first national youth-run diversity organization, Jer’s Vision goes into schools in Ottawa and works with youth to address the culture of homophobic & transphobic bullying by engaging straight youth to become allies who understand the experiences of their LGBTQ peers and support them.

Volunteers from Jer’s Vision visit schools across Canada, in order to educate students and staff on how to prevent bullying in their schools through workshops, youth initiatives and conferences. They will work closely with teachers and with Gay-Straight Alliances or Rainbow Clubs in order to overcome discriminative behaviours. “The goal of Jer’s Vision is to prevent bullying before it becomes an issue,” says Executive Director Jeremy Dias. “We work with students and teachers and give the tools that they need to promote diversity in their schools.”

Jer’s Vision started as an organization running a single scholarship to recognize students who work to promote diversity in their schools and work to end bullying. In five years, the organization has grown to include activities in every province and territory.

“Our organization does one crucial thing: change the culture of the schools to make it safer and more respectful for all, including victims, bullies and bystanders” says Dias.  “Success will not come from one presentation, but from ongoing work with these schools and communities, and that includes everything from workshops, field trips, conferences, dialogues, art events, and so much more!”

In addition to their hands-on work in school, Jer’s Vision runs the International Day of Pink, a campaign against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia and Transphobia in schools and communities. “We invite everyone to celebrate diversity by wearing a pink shirt and by organizing activities in their workplaces, organizations, communities and schools on April 11, 2012,” says Dias.

Jer’s Vision is a volunteer based organization. They are always looking for people to help, donate and get involved. To invite Jer’s Vision to your school, community organization or business, check them out at

Jer’s Vision is located at 440 Albert Street.

Operation Come Home

Operation Come Home (Twitter: @OCHOttawa)

Operation Come Home (OCH) works with at-risk and homeless youth, in order to prevent them from becoming homeless adults. OCH offers many programs and services for homeless youth, in areas like education, outreach, housing and employment. “If we can give youth the resources they need now, they will not end up living in the streets and are less likely to become homeless adults,” says Jamie Hammond, OCH’s Communications Officer.

OCH operates a drop-in and resource centre for youth aged 16 to 25. The centre is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 12pm.  This is the only morning drop-in centre for youth in Ottawa. Breakfast is prepared for them, and youth can access the clothing cupboard, with clothes, hygiene products and sleeping bags. They also have access to phones and computers if they need to check their emails or look for jobs. There are social support workers who work at the centre they might need.


OCH operates the Rogers Achievement Centre, which is the only on-site high school for at-risk youth in Ottawa. Youth aged 16 to 30 who have a couple of credits they need to complete or that are working on their GED, can register to attend this school. Students are able to work at their own pace and a teacher from the Ottawa Catholic School Board is available to help them every day. “Just because someone is not in school doesn’t mean that they don’t want to be there,” says Hammond. “Youth who don’t fit in the conventional learning environment or who get kicked out of their house might not be inclined to go back to school. Our Achievement Centre allows them to continue their education.”

OCH operates two social enterprises: BottleWorks and BeadWorks. BottleWorks is a successful bottle pick up service that employs 2-3 youth. The program works with many restaurants in downtown Ottawa. Youth will collect the bottles and keep the money received. Restaurants get a tax receipt for participating in this program. Also, BottleWorks has a new partnership with Beau’s Brewery for a residential delivery service, called BYBO (Buy Your Beau’s Online). Customers can order their Beau’s products online, and have them delivered by OCH’s BottleWorks service, starting November 25th. BeadWorks is a program where youth come into the studio and make jewelry. All the materials 1are provided and the jewelry is sold, with 75% of the profits go to the youth and 25% going back to the program. OCH now has a store front and is currently trying to draw in more people into the studio.

OCH also operates the Job Action Centre, where they offer a pre-employment program for a 12 week period, for youth aged 16 to 30. From Monday to Friday, 8 or 9 youth work on resume building, interview techniques, cover letter writing. They get certified in WHMIS, Smart Serve, First Aid and CPR, Conflict Resolution. They get paid to minimum wage. “By the end of the program, the goal is for them to either go back to school or to get a job,” says Hammond. “We work with youth to overcome barriers that might prevent them for getting a job.”

OCH offers many other programs, such as a healthy lifestyle program and a housing assistance program. Up to 250 youth take advantage of OCH’s programs every month. “Since we moved locations from Murray Street to Gloucester Street, our intake of youth has double or tripled,” says Hammond.

OCH is always accepting for donations for their drop-in centre, such as milk and coffee, canned goods, and clothing. In the wintertime, they are always short on coats or long sleeved shirts for men and women. Any donation is appreciated.

If you know a teen in need ~ reach out and help!

Operation Come Home is located at 150 Gloucester Street.

If you know a youth in need, reach out and look within our community. There are many organizations in the Ottawa area who work tirelessly to support youth.

Interested in supporting the work of these amazing organizations? Get involved! These organizations rely heavily on volunteers. Cannot give your time to these organizations? Feel free to make a donation. Every bit helps.

Tea, Tranquility and Tradition

November 15, 2011 2:57 pm

As the cold weather rushes in, many of us will reach for a steaming cup of tea. The inaugural Ottawa Tea Festival taught guests about culture, tradition, and hospitality through the history of the hot drink.

Kimiko Uriu, the festival’s organizer, said over 600 people attended the event, which opened with a speech from Ms. Mariko Kaneko, Counsellor of the Embassy of Japan. “This is a unique event that has brought together many cultures and countries,” said Kaneko.

Photo by Marc Cousineau

Next, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony took place center stage at City Hall. The ceremony was led by Luke Oldham and his mother-in-law Kyoko Kosaki.

Oldham was inspired by Kosaki to study the art of the ceremony at the Omoté-Senke Selha School in Japan. He handmade the scrolls, tea caddy, and carved tea scoop used in the ceremony over four years of study. “Japanese tea ceremony is more than an act of just drinking tea, but an act of serving…It’s a way of showing respect to the guests around you,” he said.

Traditional Japanese Kimono

Each step of the ceremony is highly ritualized. Every item are made to exact specifications and high quality materials. For example the bowls and serving scoop accommodate two and a half sips of tea; the customary serving size.

The mantra of the ceremony is Wa, Kei, Sei, Jaku, meaning harmony, respect, purity and tranquility. The ceremony was slow and peaceful; everything that contradicts mealtime in Canadian society. “It suits my personality,” said Oldham. “Quiet, thoughtful, methodical.”

After the tea was sipped and the accompanying sweet treats were nibbled each utensil was cleansed and put away. “For every action that is done there is an equal action to undue that action,” said the ceremony’s moderator.

Kosaki, a petite, sweet-as-can-be, Japanese woman, said she holds tea ceremony lessons at her home on Tuesday afternoons to keep the culture alive.

Photo by Marc Cousineau

Ottawa’s capital city mentality provided a perfect back drop to educate Ottawans about cultural traditions said event organzier, Uriu. “I traveled to a lot of tea growing regions, China, Korea, Japan. I found the more you learn about tea the more you learn about a culture.”

The festival featured many additional performances and lectures including a Korean tea ceremony, a talk on Fair Trade branding, and a matcha tea educational session led by Uriu.

The event raised over $1000 for Ashinaga, a charity benefitting orphans affected in Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami last March. The Japanese Counsellor thanked Canadians for their support during one of her country’s most tragic years. “The children who have lost their parents, it will take them time to heal.”

Uriu said the Ottawa Tea Festival will be an annual addition to the city’s events calendar.

Beloved Children’s Classic Coming to Arts Court

November 14, 2011 4:24 pm

The buoyant exuberance of The Wind in the Willows can soon be experienced live on stage in Ottawa.

The childhood classic will be performed at the Arts Court Theatre (2 Daly Avenue) for two shows (at 11am and 4pm) on December 10.

Ottawa puppetmasters John Nolan and Kathy MacLellan of Rag & Bone Puppet Theatre breathe life into Kenneth Grahame’s magical characters using large puppets, hand puppets and masks, acted by humans and on film, all underscored by Russell Levia’s live music!

Wind in the Willows

“We are delighted to shine a spotlight on this inspiring local company that has been producing stellar work for more than 30 years,” said Linda Balduzzi, executive director of the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation.

Four little animals – the shy Mole, Rat (who loves the river), Badger (who doesn’t go out much), and Toad (whose boisterous adventures can have dangerous consequences) – stand up to bullies, rescue a baby otter, and learn how to listen to what the wind whispers in the willows.

This holiday season, Ottawa audiences will have a chance to celebrate one of the city’s very own puppet theatre companies with The Wind in the Willows! “The sheer joy radiated by the characters in this show makes it a perfect family outing to celebrate the holiday season,” says puppeteer extraordinaire John Nolan.

Come on an adventure with Toad this December as he motors through Arts Court! It’s a wild ride you won’t want to miss!

Tickets are limited, so call today! Tell them Ottawa Life Magazine sent you!


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Arts Court Theatre, 2 Daly Ave

11:00 am and 4:00 pm

Tickets: $15

Box Office: 613-564-7240

This Weekend Check out Bessy Art at the Barber

November 11, 2011 3:03 pm

Looking for something different to do this weekend?  Head to “Bessy Art at the Barber” for a cool take on the whole vernissage/salon  concept.  Take a step back in time and head to Sam the Barber’s shop on Bank Street and check out the amazing art of local up and coming artist Bess Fraser.

“This show is based on the word Salon/a gathering, a meeting for learning and sharing ideas.  I am hosting the “Salon” at the “Barber” to dress it down a little.  I want people to discuss art, what they like, what they have seen and what art they themselves may have made. My art will be on display to get the discussion going.”

Bessy Art at the Barber

Sam’s shop is the perfect spot for this kind of event and frankly, it’s an original and creative take on an art event, taking out all the stuffiness that can sometimes be associated with the art scene.  “I am grateful to Sam the Barber for generously lending me his shop. I just love the space because of the setting, location, lighting and what the space has been used for in the day, where people gather, chat and at the same time.  BessyArt at the Barber will be all about discussion and laughter.”

While she is a creative designer for web and print, Bess has always used painting as a personal creative outlet.  “My high school had a large art focus. As a young adult I went to a number of renowned galleries in Europe viewing first hand big important art. Since then, I have studied visual arts, art history, painting and a lot of figure drawing.” But it has really been in the past year that things have really taken off for her as an artist.  “I gained enough confidence to paint more. Creating art and actually showing your work is pretty raw, and you are really putting yourself out there. I think musicians must feel that way about their songs.  It’s kind of like putting our heart and soul on display for everyone to see.”

Her art is fresh and it is saucy. “Composition and colour have always played a role in all of my work and my work combines the two with a certain looseness of paint.”

Come and have a laugh and while you’re there, talk some art and help support a local artist this Sunday November  13, from  5:00 p.m. to 8:00pm at the Barber, 1096 Bank.

Check out her work at

Sweden Dreams the Dream

9:11 am

Combine an internet romance, an estranged mother and son and a vacation to Taiwan and anything can happen. That’s the premise of Sweden’s contribution to this year’s European Union Film Festival. And if the reviews are anything to go by it is also full of twists intrigue.

Miss Kicki – Dreaming the Dream tells the unlikely tale of Kicki a Swedish ex-pat who returns to Sweden to be reunited with her 16-year old son. Brought up by his grandmother, Kicki’s son is disinterested in getting to know his estranged mother. To help them get reacquainted, Kicki takes her son on vacation to the exotic Asian capital of Taiwan. The only hitch is that Taipei also happens to be the home of a Taiwanese businessman she has been conducting an internet romance with. What happens next involves gangsters, a friendship between her son and a Taiwanese boy and a mother-son reconcilation of sorts.

Kicki star Pernilla August prepares to meet her on-line paramour, a Taiwanese businessman.

As well as being an engaging story, the Swedish offering to Ottawa’s week-long European film festival (November 17 to December 4) also has its fair share of high profile actors and film accolades. Star of the film Pernilla August is a celebrated actress in Sweden. In 1992 she won the best actress award at the Festival de Cannes for The Best Intensions. (In an obscurely known film fact August also played Shmi Skywalker in the Star Awards prequels.) And despite it being Director Håkon Liu’s first feature length debut, Kicki has scooped up three film awards – including the Winner of the Telia Film Award at the Stockholm International Film Festival. Kicki also got the nod for a special mention award at the Pusan 14th International Film Festival 2009 and the Rainer Wener Fassbinder Prize at Mannheim-Heidelberg. Swedish media have also lapped it up describing it variously as ”a jewel”, a “brilliant debut” and describing its lead actress Pernilla August as “radiant.”

Miss Kicki – Dreaming the Dream will screen 7pm on Monday, November 21 at Library Archives Canada on Wellington St.  More information on the film is available at the Swedish Embassy website at

Unofficial Launch of Northern Lights Showcase

November 9, 2011 9:05 am
Northern lights logo

The 2012 Northern Lights Showcase – a three day extravaganza of the North to be held in Ottawa next February – had its unofficial launch last week with a photo shoot and press conference involving seven high profile Northern leaders.

In attendance were: Premier of Nunavut Eva Aariak, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami Mary Simon, former Premier of Northwest Territories, Nellie Cornoyea, Senior Negotiator of the Nunatsiavut Government Isabella Pain, Chairman of the Kativik Regional Government Maggie Emudluk, renowned Inuit Artist Kenojuak Askevak and Canadian Singer/Songwriter Elisapie Isaac. Also in attendance was Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq. Ms. Aglukkaq is also the MP for Nunavut, the Federal Minister for Responsible for the North and the Federal Minister Responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Northern Lights Showcase 2012

The photo shoot by re-known Ottawa photographer Paul Couvrette at the Lord Elgin Hotel was held to take the photograph January cover of Ottawa Life Magazine. The theme of the issue is women of influence in Canada’s North. It also marked the unofficial start of the final run up to the 2012 Northern Lights Showcase. The event, a joint venture of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Labrador North Chamber of Commerce, will celebrate Canada’s north and eastern arctic including the regions of Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Labrador.  Northern Lights, a business and cultural showcase strives to strengthen partnerships between Canada’s northern and southern key business and government stakeholders. Around 1,000 attendees and 140 exhibitors are expected to attend the event.

Canada's Northern Lights

Speaking in her role as Minister Responsible for the North and for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency Leona Aglukkaq said the Northern Lights Showcase was “our opportunity to showcase what the North is all about with its culture, artists and its business opportunities.” Creating economic links between the North and the South will be the focus of the Northern Lights Showcase along with a promotion of the rich cultural heritage of Northern Canada.

Economic growth in the North Aglukkaq said was “huge” with her riding of Nunavut recording the largest increase of any province or territory in Canada. Statistics Canada stated Nunavut’s real GDP increased by 11 per cent in 2010 compared to the national average of 3.2%. “It is important,” added Aglukkaq “that Inuit be part of that growth which is very important not just to Nunavut but to the three territories that present 40% of Canada’s land mass.”

More information on the 2012 Northern Lights Showcase and how to be involved please visit

Come Enjoy a Flavourful Feast at the NAC This Saturday!

November 2, 2011 2:13 pm

Canada’s holistic nutritionists will combine their knowledge and experience with local celebrity chefs to create Feast of Flavour: Ottawa’s Holistic Food Event. The gastronomic affair will take place at the National Arts Centre on Saturday, November 5, from 11am to 4pm. Chef Lynn Crawford (host of Food Network Canada’s Pitchin’ In) and Chef Michael Blackie (co-host of Food Network Canada’s Chef Off!) will be on hand while holistic nutritionists certified by the Canadian Association of Holistic Nutrition Professionals (CAHN-Pro) invite Ottawa-area foodies to taste mouth-watering foods, wine and beer, and to sample savoury and sweet dishes – all prepared by Canada’s top chefs and local/organic food companies.

This “experiential food event” offers a day of tasting, learning and discussion about the therapeutic properties of traditionally prepared dishes and how research can now confirm that the flavours in some of our favourite foods are also what provide their healing benefits.

“As holistic nutritionists, we want to share our knowledge about food with Canadians in a whole new way,” says Jennifer Sexton, holistic nutritionist and board member of CAHN-Pro. “Tasting and experiencing the flavours of fresh, local dishes prepared using traditional techniques offers a great opportunity to talk about what our ancestors intuitively knew about preparing and preserving foods to maximize both their flavour and healing benefits.”

Ticket purchase and other information about Feast of Flavour: Ottawa’s Holistic Food Event are available through

For more information, contact: CAHN-Pro Ottawa

A Wheel to the Wise – Plan Ahead: Winter is on the Way!

November 1, 2011 9:00 am
High Resolution Logo for Print

With winter approaching and the cold weather settling into our bones, isolation and loss of independence is a reality for far too many senior citizens and for those living with special mobility needs in Ottawa, one of the world’s coldest and most snowbound capital cities.

As our mind fills with these foreboding thoughts, it is important to start planning a safe and reliable mode of transportation in order for seniors and the mobility-challenged to attend medical appointments and social outings, and to complete vital errands. Knowing what means of transportation are available to suit each individual’s specific needs, early preparation cannot be stressed enough – particularly for the loved ones and caregivers of those who suffer from any form of Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Wheels for the Wise, a new service now available in Ottawa, specializes in providing safe and reliable chauffeured accompaniment for seniors and for those with special mobility needs to and from their weekly responsibilities, appointments and errands. The Chauffeur-Companions at Wheels for the Wise are retired professionals – offering clients physical and emotional assistance for the entire duration of the outing. In addition, they are trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and are First-Aid- and AED (automated external defibrillator)-certified. They have also been cleared by an Ottawa Police Service records check for working with vulnerable individuals, and hold a clean driver’s abstract issued by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.

Wheels for the Wise

A spokesperson for Wheels for the Wise says the service even offers audio recordings of medical appointments to those who have power of attorney so they will know exactly what the doctor said if they could not be present due to prior obligations.

To highlight the organization’s commitment to improving the transportation options for seniors and people with special mobility needs in Ottawa, Jana Mitchell, Founder and CEO of Wheels for the Wise, is one of the service providers invited to participate in the roundtable discussions being held by the Council on Aging on November 23. These Age-Friendly Focus Groups have been coordinated as a continuation of the recent Mayor’s Seniors Summit, which was held on October 3 at Ottawa City Hall. The information and recommendations gathered during these roundtable discussions will be used to formulate an Older Adult Plan to go before City Council in 2012.

Mitchell will address, among other issues, the cost of insurance for small businesses to operate, particularly commercial auto insurance. “We have to charge a minimum of $45 per hour, in large part because our insurance rates are very high”, Mitchell told Ottawa Life Magazine.

Considering the time it will take to implement any such recommendations, Wheels for the Wise has launched a donation and sponsorship program that allows businesses and individuals to sponsor a person living with special mobility needs who lacks sufficient income to access their services. Mitchell states: “The stories we hear daily are heartbreaking and we have to do our part to prevent isolation and prolong independence for as many people as we can.” Wheels for the Wise allocates all donated funds based on a waiting list of recipients who have been screened though an application process to confirm their financial eligibility.

For more information, contact Jana Mitchell, Founder/CEO, Wheels for the Wise Inc., 613.709.WISE (9473);;

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