Tomlinson Pledges $1 Million over the Next Five Years at Opening of New Outdoor Rink in Kanata

February 24, 2016 10:00 am
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Kanata, ON – Freezing cold temperatures couldn’t keep residents of the Bridlewood community in Kanata inside last Sunday. Locals came out to sip some hot chocolate, sample sweet maple taffy and enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides at the grand opening of the Meadowbreeze Park public skating rink, hosted by Tomlinson.

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Councillors Allan Hubley and Shad Qadri joined Cindy Tomlinson-Keon, Corporate Counsel/Director at Tomlinson as the company unveiled the park’s new outdoor rink.

“Tomlinson is thrilled to launch this important revitalization project,” said Tomlinson-Keon. “We are proud to be a part of this great city, not only as contributors to its core infrastructure, but also as residents who live, work, play and most importantly—raise families here.”

Untitled 2Staff volunteers from Tomlinson as well as the Centurion Conference & Event Centre were also on hand to serve hot coffee and hand out hockey pucks. As guests laced up their skates, grabbed a stick of maple taffy and enjoyed some festive winter fun, Tomlinson-Keon revealed that the Meadowbreeze Park rink is the just the first in a series of Ottawa community park initiatives sponsored by the company.

“Over the next five years, the Tomlinson family has committed to provide $1 million worth of park renewal and upgrades within the City of Ottawa,” she said, followed by applause.

Tomlinson is a leader in transportation infrastructure and environmental services throughout Eastern Canada. The company provides a comprehensive range of products and services in quarrying, construction, trucking and environmental industries.

The company also has a history of involvement in different projects that enhance the Ottawa community. In recent years, Tomlinson’s team of cyclists—the Tomlinson Red Army—has raised over $600,000 for The Ottawa Hospital Foundation’s cancer research. The company has also provided funding for mental health research at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre and been a strong supporter of several other community initiatives, including Ottawa’s Lunchbox program.

Mayor Jim Watson expressed his gratitude to the Tomlinson family as well as all of the volunteers who helped make the rink—and the day’s events—possible.

“Thank you to Tomlinson for this wonderful addition to Meadowbreeze Park, just in time for Family Day. I also thank you for your pledge to enhance the City of Ottawa’s parks in the next five years,” he said. “We are certain that this rink will be enjoyed for years to come.”

A VERSe For Every Ear

February 19, 2016 12:54 pm
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2 Dope Boys in a Cadillac, Johnny MacRae and shayne avec i grec. All photos by Pearl Pirie.

VERSeFest, Ottawa’s International Poetry Festival, is back.

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Poet Sue Goyette.

Returning for its sixth annual edition, VERSefest will run from Tuesday, March 15th until March 20th, and it will host more than 60 local, Canadian and international poets. The festival bridges written poetry and spoken word alongside emerging and celebrated poets speaking in both official languages.

Governor General (GG) Award winner Elise Turcotte will be taking the stage on opening night, along with an exciting mix of poets including Goblin Fruit editor and poet Amal El Mohtar, Griffin Poetry Prize winner Jane Munro and New York University professor Yusef Komunyakaa.

Expected programming also includes experimental poet Christian Bök, a slam poetry event, and readings from George Elliot Clarke, Canada’s newly appointed Parliamentary Poet Laureate, along with recent GG winner Robyn Sarah.

VERSeFest_Moe Clark_credit Pearl Pirie

Spoken word poet Moe Clark.

VERSeFest will be hosting poets from far and wide, although approximately a quarter of the poets are from the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Some out-of-town poets include performance artist Caroline Bergvall from Norway and Icelandic poet Gerdur Kristny.

Festival director Monty Reid is thrilled for this year’s festival.

“We’ve got a great program lined up again!” says Reid. “For anyone in Ottawa who cares about poetry, this is the event of the year!”

VERSefest takes place at Knox Presbyterian Church at 120 Lisgar Street. Tickets are $15 for an evening pass (two events) or $50 for a festival pass. You can buy tickets here or at the door. For additional listings and times, visit versefest.ca.

Supporting Local Musicians Sounds Simple in Hintonberg Concert Series

February 18, 2016 4:02 pm
SUPPORTING LOCAL MUSICIANS SOUNDS SIMPLE IN HINTONBERG CONCERT SERIES - Image  (1)

All photos by Andre Gagne,

“Home is where I want to be / pick me up and turn me round,” the Moonfruits sang in a folky rendition of the Talking Heads hit to those gathered last Thursday night at the Wellington Eatery (1008 Wellington Street West). The husband/wife duo of Alex Milaire and Kaitlin Milroy mean it too, having just returned from honeymooning around Europe.

“You work and work for years and years always on the go,” they sing in “Enjoy Yourself” from their 2014 release Début. As they recall it, they were on the go quite a bit, busking the songs around Europe before a return to some shows in the area, a wedding last August and then off once more to the UK and back again.

At the Eatery that night some friends cheer loudly, clink their plates where the remnants of fries lounge around pools of ketchup. The two musicians give each other a loving look, smile and meld together gorgeous harmonies that give a passing couple outside a cause to pause and gaze through the window, the fog of their breath in the frigid air not enough to conceal smiles of their own. For the Moonfruits, who have been playing together since 2012, it was a fine return.

The group was part of RedLeaf Music’s Sounds Simple series that will bring 13 shows to the Wellington Eatery on Thursday nights. RedLeaf strives to help artists achieve their goals by offering more than just support but also an outlet to showcase their talents by setting up shows like this around town. It’s a real family orientated atmosphere.

OLM sat down with RedLeaf’s Artist Manager/ Presenter and Sounds Simple curator Trish Murray to talk more about series, the interesting choice of venue and future shows.

Ottawa Life:  Can you give me a bit of background on the Sounds Simple series and how it all came together?

Trish Murray: The original inspiration came from conversations I was having with the artists I work with through my artist management business. A few of them were looking for the chance to play solo acoustic shows locally, similar to house concerts. The Sounds Simple series was created to bring people in our community together around music in a fun, relaxed and social way. It’s set up to be welcoming and accessible, connecting music lovers and musicians and involving new venues for music.

How were the artists chosen for the shows?

I curate the series, working with artists who are part of our Redleaf family or artists I’ve gotten to know by being involved in the local music community.  I also welcome touring artists I’ve gotten to know through the music festivals and conferences I attend elsewhere.

This is the second series. How did last year’s series go?

The response to the first series was immediate and positive. The venue, A Thing for Chocolate, has its own charm and of course chocolate is appealing all on its own. It was a great place to launch the series, begin to get the word out and start building those connections I love to nurture. The series is designed to move around, exploring new places for music that listeners return to time and again.

What were some of the highlights of the first series?

It was really heart-warming to see the support the series got from community members, through their attendance and the way the word spread so that soon friends of friends were coming too. It was also very touching to hear how much the artists enjoyed playing the series. While some of the artists perform regularly, others are early in their careers or aren’t used to performing solo. This series gives them a safe and supportive place to spread their musical wings and try something new or different.

Speaking of different, the Wellington Eatery is certainly a unique venue for a concert series. How did it come about that this venue was chosen?

We look for venues that are eager to welcome the music community, that have space that feels welcoming and comfortable and that are in locations that are easy for people to get to no matter how they travel. The Wellington Eatery is a really great space for music for all of those reasons.

What are some of the ranges in styles of music we can expect throughout the series? Were you trying for an eclectic range?

Building on the success of the first series, which featured solo singer-songwriters, with the extra space at the Wellington Eatery we continue to feature solo musicians but also include some smaller acoustic groups. The series isn’t limited to a particular style of music and that makes it more fun for everyone. People can attend regularly and hear something a little different each time.

How has the response been so far?

The response has been really positive. We always have a great group of people who come out to the shows. Some come every week and others are discovering it for the first time. It’s a listening room environment so the people attending get to really hear the music and the artist gets to play to those listening ears without competing with sports games on TV or the chatter of other people talking and laughing at the bar.

Red Leaf continues to support local artists. Anything you can tell us that is on the horizon?

I’m excited to have a new monthly series starting up. I live in Vanier and I’ve been looking for a place to bring this same experience there. The Second Sunday series starts Feb. 14th with Ron Mills in concert at Maison Baguettes, 381 Montreal Rd. It’s a small and cozy café offering homemade soups, sandwiches and baked goods. It definitely has that house concert feeling because it’s in a converted house.

The series runs until April 14th with shows by local melody seamstress Amanda Cottreau, the rootsy twang of Jack Pine, the acoustic styles of Leonard Youngfoot and one of Toronto’s rising indie songwriters Angela Saini to name a few. You can go to redleafmusic.ca and sign up for the newsletter to stay in the loop.

Spray-Net Visits the Den

February 4, 2016 10:56 am
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Photo courtesy of CBC.

At the age of 19, Canadian franchise entrepreneur Carmelo Marsala started his own company, Spray-Net. This Wednesday, Marsala took his award-winning outdoor painting company to the Dragons.

The Dragons in CBC’s Dragons’ Den, that is.

Marsala boosted his business by developing an exceptional exterior paint formula and technology for spray-applied painting. His creation produces permanent, fast, and factory-finish results, transforming the look of a home in a day. Unlike typical painting, which requires latex paint and a brush and roller, Marsala created something different: a cost-effective exterior renovation solution that serves as an alternative to replacing a home’s siding, doors and windows. Spray-Net’s work is even backed by a 15-year warranty.

Marsala quickly saw an opportunity to develop Spray-Net as a franchise business, and the rest is history. Franchisees began to sell out in Marsala’s home province, Quebec, and are close to selling out in Ontario. Currently, the company is casting its net and expanding across Canada.

It was only a matter of time before the Den would come a’callin’, and Marsala was, at first, a little nervous about bringing his business to the Dragons.

“At first we didn’t want to do it. We didn’t want to give up any (percentage) of our business. We didn’t want to look like one of those companies that just go on (the show) for exposure. And then, after that, we won the Air Miles Small Business Achievement Award and I had a mentorship with (startup expert) Sean Wise,” Marsala explains. “He said that a lot of entrepreneurs make the mistake of not wanting to give up any of their business…At the same time, one of the producers of Dragons’ Den sent me an email, so I said, you know what, this is a sign, let’s go. It was a fantastic experience, it was quite fun.”

Marsala ended up leaving the Den with a partnership with business giant and venture capitalist Jim Treliving. Marsala wasn’t shy about setting his sights on partnering with Treliving, either.

“I was actually quite transparent about the fact that the person I was there for was Jim. All of the Dragons, at the same time, said that Jim has never done a deal under 25 percent, and I was asking for 5 percent. I said, ‘How about we have Jim decide that?’ And we did the deal.”

Overall, Marsala is very pleased with his experience on the show. “It’s very flattering that those kinds of people recognize what we’ve been doing as something that’s good,” Marsala laughs.

Spray-Net offers painting services across Ottawa. You can learn more about Spray-Net by visiting their website.

Winterlude Opens with Fire and Colour

February 1, 2016 1:13 pm
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While expectations for ice quality weren’t high Friday night, everyone who went out to see the Winterlude launch knew it would be a great show. As per usual, they didn’t disappoint. Our slideshow features some fire, great face paint, plenty of purple and, of course, an Ice hog.

All photos by Andre Gagne.

Before the National Inquiry: Countering Stereotypes Through Education, Employment and Art

January 13, 2016 2:07 pm
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Aboriginal community members at the annual Sisters In Spirit Candlelight Vigil in Ottawa in October. Photo by Damira Davletyarova.

“I embrace you my sisters; and myself too
We will go forward with strength anew
Our friendships will travel with us down the road
Fortified by the stories we now hold…”

Excerpt from We Retreat by Bape Ande Kwe, Laughing Crow Woman – Lynda Stewart

The national public inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women will bring much needed attention to the most ignored issue in Canada. It should also bring some answers and healing to indigenous families, whose grand-daughters, daughters and mothers one day simply vanished from their lives. Aboriginal communities across Canada more than ever hope the newly-elected Liberal government will stop the ongoing calamity.

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Candles are lit to honour missing and murdered women from the community. The RCMP reports nearly 1,200 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada. Photo by Damira Davletyarova.

Meanwhile, indigenous leaders say, Canadians and Aboriginal people shouldn’t wait passively for the results. There is something everyone can do now to speed healing.

In fact, Claudette Dumont‑Smith, the executive director of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), says that the federal government shouldn’t be given all of the responsibility moving forward, Aboriginal women should be included as well.

“Aboriginal women are disempowered because of the way the things are right now. But I think, if they were involved in the development of policies and programs, given the financial assistance to deliver those programs, Aboriginal women could help themselves,” Dumont‑Smith says.

It’s the history, reminds Dumont-Smith. The history of colonialism, residential schools, abuse and racism are all added up to the tragedy of missing Aboriginal women. The resulting negative stereotypes are unfair and often inaccurate, and unfortunately, according to Allan Ryan, they can’t be erased.

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The Worn, The Tired, The Desperate. Painting by George Littlechild, a modern native artist and a child of residential school survivor, who paints colourful female pictures to bring light and inspiration.

Ryan is an expert in Aboriginal affairs and art at Carleton University. He says that although labels can’t be destroyed they can be replaced with new knowledge and awareness. Hope lies in art, Ryan says, where native people express their voice and inner soul.

“Those stereotypes are never going to go away, that is disheartening. But we can counter them,” Ryan says.

As a teacher, performer and advocate of Aboriginal people and culture, Ryan has been doing this for the past four decades. 15 years ago, he launched the New Sun Conference, where native and non-native people are invited to express their voice and identity through poems, music and paintings. Today, the conference has become a festival, where Aboriginal people are working in collaboration with non-native people.

Much has changed in the past years, and the art reflects the shift in attitude. Modern aboriginal art became more positive and hopeful. Ryan speaks of George Littlechild, a modern native artist and the child of a residential school survivor, who in the journey of reconnection with his community paints colourful female pictures to bring light and inspiration.

Ryan and his Inuit students have also traveled to China, where they exhibited Aboriginal self-portraits and screened films by Aboriginal filmmakers. The Chinese public was impressed. They wanted to know more about Canada and Aboriginal people.

“Those people knew nothing about Canada. There were no stereotypes to reverse. I was introducing them to Canada through the art of Aboriginal people,” Ryan says.

Tracey Lindberg's debut novel, Birdie.

Tracey Lindberg’s debut novel, Birdie.

Unfortunately, engrained negative beliefs arouse less interest and attention at home. Both Dumont-Smith and Ryan think the national public inquiry into Canada’s missing and murdered women will change this. The inquiry will raise the profile of the issue. The findings would impress Canadians, and open the eyes to the crisis the indigenous women face.

“[The] inquiry will say to the rest of the country: This is not acceptable. This is not who we are as Canadians. We really need to look at those root causes. There are men out there who do not value the lives of Aboriginal women,” Ryan says.

Aboriginal communities across Canada are more than ever inspired by changes in the government. They are preparing and holding many events, exhibitions and shows hoping for you to attend them and hear their stories.

In one of the upcoming events, Tracey Lindberg will be presenting her novel Birdie. It is a story of a Cree woman who is looking for a place in life and understanding. The reading and discussion will be held at 7 p.m. on January 19 at the Octopus Bookstore, 251 Bank St. 2nd floor.

Ottawa Native Barbara Ann Scott is a Legend Among Champions

January 12, 2016 9:58 am
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For many Ottawans, January puts a focus on setting personal goals and maintaining new-found commitments. Whether the plan involves a new diet and exercise regime or an increased dedication to your job, the aim of any New Years Resolution is to improve day-to-day living.

IMG_1241The question for many is where to begin. Change can be demanding and is often no easy feat. Given the hard choices involved, a great way to start is by looking at the achievements of inspiring people.

Take, for example, Ottawa’s Barbara Ann Scott.
When it comes to Canadian legends, this Olympian’s status is beyond Gold. During her outstanding career she was chosen time after time as Canada’s greatest outstanding National athlete and she even ranked above the prime minister as the most newsworthy Canadian of the 1940’s. Barbara Ann Scott is now a symbol of National Pride, an icon for upcoming champions, and a chosen name for municipally established community centers, exhibits, and arenas.

“The most important thing about skating is that it teaches you to do the things you SHOULD do before you do the things you WANT to do.”

Barbara Ann Scott

Located at 110 Laurier Avenue, An Ottawa City Hall exhibit displays Scott’s journey to fame; outlining the story of a young girl dedicated to pursuing her dreams with nothing more than a pair of figure skates, a small arena and a desire to conquer her goals. The beauty behind her success rests in her consistent dedication towards achieving a ‘personal best.’ During her prime years, Scott considered excellence “more important than show business,” and so she pursued excellence, practicing for hours everyday.IMG_1244

Ottawa City Hall also presents a showcase of her iconic Canadian achievements and awards. Bringing home numerous Gold metal wins for Canada, including the North American, European, and World Figure Skating championships, Barbara Ann Scott is now amongst the list of those awarded the Key to the City.

“The remarkable accomplishments of Olympic figure skating champion Barbara Ann Scott are showcased through historic photographs, trophies and her champion gold medal,” said a city spokesperson in a release describing the exhibit.

Barbara Ann Scott passed away in 2012 at the age of 84, leaving behind a pristinely captured legend of perseverance, dedication and success.

Her story compels us to follow Scott’s example. Set a goal and make it happen.

The no-cost exhibit is open to anyone and is wheelchair accessible.

Mike’s 2015 Photo Roundup

December 23, 2015 1:16 pm
Allie X, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, July 2015 - © MikesMedia.com

Allie X, RBC Ottawa Bluesfest, July 2015 – © MikesMedia.com.

Ottawa music photographer Michael Wing from MIKE’S MEDIA saw everyone from Ed Sheeran to Rob Zombie onstage this year. His 2015 slideshow will make you feel like you’re standing right on the stage, no earplugs required.

Ottawa Life’s Top 10 Activities to Get You Into the Holiday Spirit

December 2, 2015 2:07 pm
Parliament Lights

Holiday lights are twinkling and the first snow of the season has fallen, so we declare the holiday season officially begun! Ottawa is brimming with great holiday activities this month, from theatre and music to shopping, food and outdoor adventures, there is something for everyone. We’ve put together a list of our top 10 things to get you in a festive mood this holiday season, so get out there and enjoy!

1. Christmas Lights Across Canada

What better way to get you into the holiday spirit than 400,000 brightly coloured Christmas lights illuminating the National Capital Region? Launched in 1985, the Christmas Lights Across Canada program celebrates the beauty of the season by lighting provincial and territorial capital cities across Canada (and of course the Nation’s Capital), in a dazzling cross-country lighting display. Here in Ottawa, watch for landmarks across the National Capital Region to be lit up December 2 to January 7. The official illumination ceremony takes place in on Parliament Hill at 7pm on Wednesday December 2nd, so grab a peppermint latte and head out to see the city light up.

When: December 2 – January 7.

Cost: Free!

Find out more at canada.pch.gc.ca.

Alight at night

Photo courtesy of Upper Canada Village.

2. Alight at Night Festival at Upper Canada Village

Each December, Upper Canada Village transforms into a Christmas wonderland for the Alight at Night festival. About an hour’s drive away from Ottawa, just outside of the village of Morrisburg, the Alight at Night festival is a picture perfect holiday setting. Hop onboard a life-sized toy train, book a romantic carriage ride under the softly falling snow, or just soak up the Christmas carols, festive dining and great holiday shopping. Alight at Night runs from December 4-20 Thursday-Sunday nights. Want to meet Santa on your visit? Then don’t miss “Fun and Lunch with Santa” in the Harvest Barn on Saturday December 12.

When: December 4-20, nightly Thursday-Sunday.

Cost: Adults $14, Seniors $12, Youth $10, Children 5 and under Free.

Find out more at uppercanadavillage.com/ alight-at-night.

Ballet

Photo by Bomba Rosa.

3. Canada’s Royal Ballet presents The Nutcracker

The Royal Winnipeg ballet performs the timeless classic The Nutcracker this holiday season at the National Arts Centre. This production oozes holiday pizzazz, energetic dancing mice, the always beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy, stunning costumes and mesmerizing choreography. Daily performances run from December 2-6, including a Saturday and Sunday Matinee making it a perfect outing for the family. Pre-performance “Sugar Plum Parties” one hour before show time give that little ballerina in your life the opportunity to participate in colouring activities, dress up, and even a chance to show off their dance moves with the school of dance. Tickets are going quick so be sure to get yours before it sells out.

When: December 2-6.

Cost: Tickets start at $25.

Find out more at nac-cna.ca/en.

4. Fairmont Chateau Laurier – Brunch with Santa  

For food lovers and those wanting a festive way to celebrate with the family, be sure to check out Brunch with Santa at the elegant Fairmont Chateau Laurier. The beautiful Wilfred’s Restaurant in this iconic downtown hotel hosts this Saturday brunch on December 19. Come hungry as the menu is filled with mouth-watering items including a make your own crepe station, traditional roast carving station and baked holiday treats galore. It’s one of Santa’s favourite places to visit on his pre-Christmas tour, and one of ours too! The hotel is decked out in its holiday best so it’s also a great place to get some family holiday photos. Reservations are recommended.

When: December 19.

Cost: Kids 6-12yrs $35, Adults $65.

Find out more at fairmont.com/laurier-ottawa

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The Tallis Scholars, photo by Eric Richmond.

5. The Tallis Scholars – Ottawa Chamberfest

Celebrate the season with the world-renowned Tallis scholars in an evening of Christmas music presented inside the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.  This performance of sacred vocal Renaissance music by an award-winning UK group will feature Thomas Tallis’ masterpiece Puer natus est nobis, performed with festive motets by John Sheppard. Don’t miss this show, as it’s only one of the group’s two Canadian stops as they cross Europe and North America this holiday season.

When: December 7.

Cost: Tickets start at $35.

Find out more at chamberfest.com/concerts.

Christmas Shopping

Photo courtesy of The Original Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale.

6. Original Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale

Get your holiday shopping started (or finished if you’re an early bird), at the Original Ottawa Christmas Craft Sale from December 10-20. This 10 day shopping event takes place at EY Centre (near the airport), and features over 180 artisans selling unique Canadian handmade items. From pottery and glassware to baked treats and fashion accessories, you’re sure to cross names off your Christmas list!

When: December 10-20.

Cost: $7 Admission for adults, $5 if you’re 65yrs+ or between 13-17yrs.

Find out more at originalsshow.ca/fall.

7. Trailer Park Boys, the Dear Santa Claus Tour

For those wanting some untraditional holiday entertainment, the Trailer park boys Dear Santa Claus tour comes to the National Arts Centre December 7. Watch as Bubbles tries to spread the true meaning of Christmas to the world before his plans are botched by Julian wanting to cash in on the Festive season and Ricky relentlessly trying to meet the real Santa. If untraditional holiday fun is your style, or you need a break from holiday planning, relax and unwind with this inevitably entertaining show. Tickets start at $55, with $1 from each ticket going to the Ottawa Literacy foundation. *NOTE: be sure to leave the kids at home for this one!

When: December 7.

Cost: Tickets start at $55.

Find out more at nac-cna.ca/en/event.

Holiday show (1)

Things you can find at the OAG Art and Parcel sale. Works by Becca Wallace, Allyson Green, Maya Hum, Littlest Bird Workshop, Erin Wallace, Of the Town, Shirley Liu, Teresa Wingar and Gwen Best.

8. OAG Art Sale – Art and Parcel a Holiday Art Sale

Running from November 5 to January 25, the Art and Parcel Holiday Art Sale at the OAG is the place to get those one-of-a-kind items for the art lover on your Christmas list. From original photographs, paintings, drawings, jewelry and textiles, there is something for everyone, maybe even you! If you’re a member of the OAG, you’ll save an extra 15% off your purchases.

When: November 5- January 25.

Cost: Free to shop, admission to the Gallery if you want to look around (which we suggest) is on a pay what you can basis.

Find out more at ottawaartgallery.ca/content/art-parcel-holiday-art-sale.

9. A Christmas Story – Presented by the Ottawa little theatre

Looking for a Christmas play with a little comedic flare? The Ottawa Little Theatre presents A Christmas Story, a holiday comedy sure to bring giggles out of the whole family. Playwright Philip Grecian brings together the talented actors of the Ottawa Little Theatre in this cult classic based on the hit movie. Shows run nightly December 2-19, with a Sunday afternoon performance on December 13 and a Saturday afternoon performance on December 19.

When: December 2-19.

Cost: $25 for adults, $22 for seniors and $12 for youth. Family packages and holiday bundles available.

Find out more at ottawalittletheatre.com/a-christmas-story.

Snowman

Photo courtesy of Stanley’s Christmas Village.

10. Stanley’s Christmas Village

Just a short drive out of the city, Edwards Ontario is home to a holiday oasis called Stanley’s Christmas Village. Enjoy an old fashioned sleigh ride through the winter landscape, visit the wrapping warehouse, the reindeer stable, and even find out where the coal comes from for the naughty kids on Santa’s list! Hot chocolate, candy canes and a gift are included for the kids. The village is open Saturdays and Sunday from late November through to December 20 and it’s a perfect way to jump into the holiday festivities.

When: November 22- December 20, Saturdays and Sundays.

Cost: $12.50 for adults and kids.

Find out more at stanleysfarm.com/family-fun/christmas-village/.

It’s Time to Clear the Room

November 12, 2015 3:22 pm
CTR Logo

There are certain things that we just don’t discuss at cocktail parties. However, Rogers Daytime host Derick Fage is looking to change that on November 12th.

Derek Fage

Rogers Daytime host Derek Fage.

As the spokesperson for the Canadian Continence Foundation, Derek is looking to raise awareness and funds for an organization that deals with this taboo topic. ‘Clear the Room Cocktail Party’ will be a light-hearted and entertaining event with a focus primarily on the positive outcomes that donations provide; people living full, happy lives and getting the support they need.

How can you support this worthy cause? Attending the cocktail party held at Bistrofiftyfour will support both Voice Found and The Canadian Continence Foundation.

Founded in 1996, the Canadian Continence Foundation enhances the quality of life for people experiencing incontinence by helping them and/or their caregivers to confidently seek and access cures and treatment options.

You can find out more about the foundation or tonight’s event at canadiancontinence.ca.

Remembrance Day

November 11, 2015 8:00 am
Rememberance

Photo by Sofie Sharom.

The Fields of Honour
By Frank Baile

Ranked by no rank,
Lie the fallen,
Testaments to a courage that,
Few foreknew until that time.

When something stirred in them,
Like a sign, but more,
That made each say,
There must go I!

Not all are here, just a few,
Links with comrades more briefly knew,
Then left beneath’ the crosses row on row,
That sleep they might, then wake anew.

Did we ‘break faith’ with those who died?

There is no wind,
The sky is grey,
The trees mourn their passing.



In Flanders Fields
By John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Experience Trinidad and Tobago at the OWFF

October 29, 2015 9:55 am
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All photos courtesy of Allison Ferguson

The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival is here!

This year, The Tourism Development Company Limited of Trinidad and Tobago is teaming up with The High Commission for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago to bring two Trinidadian-born Chefs, Marida and Narida Mohammed, to the festival.

You may recognize the twins as former contestants of MasterChef Canada, as well as the team behind the Toronto catering company Twice De Spice.

This year’s festival will be held at the Shaw Centre from October 30 to November 1. 

The Chefs will be preparing dishes of Trinidad and Tobago, such as pelau, curried shrimp and callaloo soup.

Resa Solomon St. Lewis, owner of Ottawa’s Baccanalle Catering, will also be appearing alongside the twin chefs. St. Lewis is an Ottawa born chef with roots in Trinidad and Tobago.

Many yummy samples will be available to festival guests. These include Trinidad and Tobago rum cake (made with dried fruits soaked in a spiced rum concoction. The cake is typically served during the Christmas season in Trinidad and Tobago), as well as Angostura 1919 Rum.

Angostura Limited will be featured in the Trinidad and Tobago section of the festival, and will be providing samples of its popular 8-year-old rum. This rum is one that is specially blended and it won multiple awards.

ottawa food and wine show 1

The rum gets its name from a surprise development in Trinidad and Tobago’s rum history. A terrible fire in 1932 destroyed the Government Rum Bond, and master rum blender J.B. Fernandes bought the surviving, if a little smoky, casks. Those casks had all been filled in the year 1919, so Ferndandes named it “1919 Aged Rum.”

The rum will be presented on its own and alongside a specialty cocktail with the featured dishes prepared by the Mohammad sisters. Trinidad and Tobago’s food and rum pairings will grace the “I’ll Be Host for the Holidays” stage at the festival Friday October 3 and Sunday November 1 at 1:00 pm.

Cultural performances will also be at the festival, featuring the Nepean Pan Harmonics, an Ottawa-based steel pan group, as well as the Mason Hall Folk Performers. The Performers will be showcasing a mixture of folk songs, drumming, dance and calypso at this year’s Festival.

The Tourism Development and The High Commission of Trinidad and Tabago are hoping that the festival provides a great experience for those who are curious about the island’s culture and food. Many Canadians are unaware that flights to Trinidad and Tobago are available via West Jet.

To find more information about The Ottawa Wine and Food Festival, visit their website.

Sam Roberts is Coming to the TD Place

October 27, 2015 4:09 pm
Sam Roberts Band

The group behind Brother Down’ is teaming up with the union who supports public servants like our health inspectors and librarians this November to put on an enormous, free concert at the TD Place.

To be more specific, November 14 the Sam Roberts Band will take over the TD Place Arena as part of CUPE 503’s Rock for Public Services. The annual show raises money for local charities and awareness of our nation’s public servants, and headlining with the Sam Roberts Band has been a long time in the making.

Rock for Public Services 2015 ENG“We’ve been after Sam Roberts for years,” says Wil Kelly, CUPE 503’s event organizer. “He’s one of the ones we really wanted.”

Sam Roberts’ iconic vocals have been a lasting presence on Canadian radio waves over the past decade and Canadians have showered the band with awards, including six Junos and a handful of Much Music Video Awards.

The Sam Roberts band will share the stage with Halifax-based Juno winner Matt Mays. Local singer-songwriter Amanda Rheaume will kick-off the night with her band.

Although you don’t need much of an excuse to see the Sam Roberts Band for free, Rock for Public Services will also be raising money for Sisters in Spirit, an initiative by the Native Women’s Association of Canada that researches and reports on the alarming rates of violence against Aboriginal women and girls in Canada.

CUPE 503 decided to choose Sisters in Spirit because of how little attention has gone to aboriginal women’s murders across the country.

“The fact that they’re Aboriginal women and we’re not talking about it is shameful,” Kelly says.

Rock for Public Services began in 2007 to raise awareness of Public Service Workers’ role in their communities. Since that time they’ve raised about $160,000 for a variety of charities, and Kelly says they’re aiming to raise about $25,000 this year.

No tickets are required for entry, and attendees can make donations to Sisters in Spirit at the event. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Pedal Past Dark with Tour La Nuit

September 24, 2015 11:58 am
Capital Velo Fest 2

All photos courtesy of Ottawa Vélo Fest.

Every cyclist knows the dream of having an entire main road to themselves. There really isn’t anything like flying down Colonel By Drive on Sunday Bike Days or turning the art gallery corner to find the Alexandra Bridge completely empty.

This Friday, Capital Vélo Fest plans on capturing that feeling for hundreds of local cyclists with their fifth annual Tour La Nuit.

“I went to the Tour La Nuit in Montreal about six or seven years ago and it was just a delightful event. And I thought that Ottawa could have a similar festival,” says Vélo Fest founder and executive director Dick Louch.

In the Tour La Nuit, Louch’s organization will be blocking off 20 kilometres of road between City Hall and the experimental farms to allow the cyclists to enjoy ‘a night under the stars without any cars.’ The riders are encouraged to show off their most elaborate array of bike lights and enjoy some great food, drinks and music.

Capital Velo Fest

The Human Powered Vehicle Operators of Ottawa’s bicycle freight-train.

One group called the Human Powered Vehicle Operators of Ottawa really goes all out with their decorations. A few years ago they brought a tandem-recumbent bike pulling a trailer and lit the whole thing up to look like a freight train.

“One year they came towing an organ behind them, and we had someone playing,” Louch recalls. “Last year they were towing a hot-tub that was filled with stuffed animals and kids.”

Other cyclists carry speakers in their baskets or in carts behind them, giving the ride a roving soundtrack.

Louch’s first goal with the night is for people to have fun, and the second goal is for people to take that fun to the streets and enjoy city cycling, especially night cycling, more often.

“Many people have said to me that they don’t feel comfortable riding at night,” Louch says. These riders are often concerned about not being seen by cars or not seeing other potential dangers.

“By coming out in this environment where the roads are closed…they can hopefully feel safe and see that it’s not so bad,” says Louch.

Capital Velo Fest 3Adult admission for the ride is $20, and most of the money goes to paying for the non-profit Vélo Fest’s operational costs. Running the Tour La Nuit requires money for the police to close roads, insurance and the venue rental at City Hall among other expenses. The event’s sponsors include cycling groups and eco-companies like Citizens for Safe Cycling, RightBike and EnviroCentre. The $20 entry fee buys you more than just admission into the ride. Everyone who signs up for Tour La Nuit will receive a free light that fits over their tire valve and lights up the wheel with a band of colour.

“Most bikes have a light on the front and back, but there’s not a lot of visibility from the side,” says Louch. “These lights really make you stand out because they’re a bright glowing neon colour…it not only makes you very visible, but you look totally awesome.”

To find out more about Friday’s event, check out the Capital Vélo Fest website here.

CityFolk Impressions

September 22, 2015 3:52 pm
The Sheepdogs - Photo by Michael Wing.

Ewan Currie from The Sheepdogs plays at CityFolk. Photo by Michael Wing. 

This year’s CityFolk festival swept into the new venue at Lansdowne Park on the perfect weekend. It was warm and sunny most days, with as little rain as anyone could have hoped for. The festival line up was one of the best yet, boasting a combination of international stars with Canadian up-and-comers. Our writers Katie Hartai and Eric Murphy made it out to the festival Thursday and Saturday nights and – spoiler alert – they had a great time.

Thursday Night

By Eric Murphy

I’ll admit it, I was a bit nervous about the festival’s move from Hog’s Back Park near Carleton University. I loved Hog’s Back’s feeling of privacy and separation from the city. Lansdowne surprised me though. I was expecting stone streets and busy patios but the park delivered a sweeping grassy field with people relaxing on lawn chairs and a hill you could sit on to see the entire audience and the Rideau Canal winding in the distance.

07 Walk Off The Earth

Sarah Blackwood from Walk off the Earth. Photo by Michael Wing.

Burlington, Ontario sensations Walk off the Earth took over the stage after seven with a dazzlingly elaborate live-performance. They started off wearing black in a drumming circle, surrounded by enough instruments to keep a band ten times their size busy.

WOTE built their career with YouTube hits, but Thursday’s show put the band’s originals, mostly from their recent Sing It All Away album, front and centre. “Rule the World” has been dominating Ottawa radio lately, and the band absolutely nailed the song onstage, jumping from instrument to instrument with a joyful intensity.

Seriously, each member seems to be able to play enough instruments to start a one-man-band. Their stoic, lumberjack-bearded keyboardist ‘Taylor’ switched from playing the keys to the xylophone to the trumpet faster than I can switch television channels. Singer Sarah Blackwood was front and centre with her powerhouse vocals and ukulele, proving once and for all that ukuleles are just as cool as guitars (full disclosure: I play the ukulele).

The band finished up their hyperactive set with ‘Sing it all Away,’ a song they’d been training us to sing along to all night. The audience delivered, and the sound of hundreds of people singing along with the chorus has been stuck in my head all week.

About a half hour later, South Carolina’s Avett Brothers sauntered onto the stage and immediately matched WOTE’s intensity. They didn’t have the same stage set up, no smoking drums or army of stagehands, but the brothers made up for it with relentless energy and amazing chemistry. They played each song like they were trying to break their instruments, and their second song was intense as most band’s finales. The brothers’ cellist Joe Kwon danced around the stage like his cello was weightless, and I don’t think the instrument’s end pin ever touched the ground while he was playing.

The Avett Brothers maintained this pace with a few strategic breaks. In one song the group lay down on the stage while the drummer soloed for a few minutes, John Bonham style.

A few minutes later the lights went low and Scott Avett strolled onto the stage, alone but for his acoustic guitar. He fell into to a heartbreaking rendition of the already beautifully morose ‘Murder in the City.’ I’ll admit I teared up a bit, but so did everybody so it’s fine.

When the band finally left together it wasn’t long before the audience’s pounding roars of ‘encore, encore!’ brought them back out. Seth Avett quietly walked up to the mic and said ‘we’d be happy to. Thanks for asking.’

WOTE really blew me away with how much work went into each song. Their performance was like a joyful ballet, great to watch and clearly well choreographed. I didn’t get that same sense from Avett Brothers, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. Their show was more like a group of old friends playing to a couple thousand new friends.

Saturday Night

By Katie Hartai

Illuminated by spotlights, the descending rain shimmered like glitter Saturday night as it fell over a full audience at Landsdowne Park. High winds and showers made for a nippy night. Some wrapped themselves in thermal blankets to keep warm while others made an extra trip to the beer tent. My soaked socks were quickly forgotten about when Of Monsters and Men hit the stage with the haunting song ‘Thousand Eyes’ from their sophomore album, Beneath the Skin.

Nine people dressed entirely in black dispersed themselves across the stage around lead singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir and her counterpart, singer-guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Þórhallsson. Ominous electronic sounds mixed with pounding bass drums, flashing lights and Nanna’s emotive voice instantly swept over the great lawn. Their striking level of showmanship continued throughout the evening. With an extended band that included acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, a trumpet, trombone and even accordion, the band recreated songs to sound as detailed as their studio recordings. Some of the most memorable tracks from the evening’s setlist include ‘Empire,’ ‘King and the Lionheart’ and Of Monsters and Men’s biggest hit ‘Little Talks.’ I couldn’t have been beaming any brighter when the band began playing my personal favourite song, ‘Dirty Paws,’ as part of their encore performance. Hundreds of fans added new harmonies to the chorus and joined in on the chants of “hey!”

Humbled to be performing in Canada’s Capital City, the Icelandic neo-folk group promised to come back. Surely we’ll hold them to their word.

Happily, CityFolk’s talent wasn’t confined to the stages. The Aberdeen Pavilion hosted a variety of vendors selling unique products from stylish fashion accessories and crafts to tasty treats.

Clay Whisperers was one of the displays that caught my eye. Colourful pottery and ceramic jewelry lined the set up accompanied by two smiling faces – artists and business owners Doug Moir and Zuzana Voska.

I ended up purchasing a daisy imprinted ceramic yoga bracelet for $15. It was handmade by Zuzana using various materials including a daisy from her own backyard. The blue and purple silk ribbon wraps comfortably around my wrist and ties in a knot at the back.

Watch out for the Clay Whisperers at their next sale on November 27-29 at the Ottawa Guild of Potters Holiday Sale.

Another memorable merchant was Vinyl Clocks Canada. All of their clocks are assembled by hand in Montreal using authentic vintage records. What a way to show off your favourite band!

Lowertown Canning Co. also had an intriguing setup. Using all natural ingredients, the company works toward building a sustainable local economy with their tasty products like spicy pickled asparagus, tomato pecan jam and chocolate apple butter.

ACO and the Legacy Project

September 15, 2015 10:03 am
ACO location

The ACO’s new address on 19 Main Street.

The AIDS Committee of Ottawa (also known as ACO) is a community-based, non-profit, social justice organization that provides free, confidential services for people living with, affected by and at risk of HIV/AIDS in Ottawa.

ACO started as a small group of gay men and lesbians in 1985. During its 30 years, it has grown to include many participants, volunteers, staff members and community partners. ACO’s goals include reducing the stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV, and enhancing the quality of life people living with HIV/AIDS experience.

Ottawa Life Magazine had the chance to tour the offices ACO. The two story office, now located on 19 Main Street, houses ACO’S administration services, along with educational and prevention services, and areas referred to as the Tool Shed and The Living Room.

Warm and welcoming, ACO strives to create a space in which the human rights and dignity of people affected by HIV/AIDS are respected and valued.

ACO’s Education and Prevention team works within the community to reduce the spread of HIV transmission through multiple facets. The team looks to empower people living with HIV/AIDS to be central in their work, collaborating with local grass roots initiatives through community development, as well as providing outreach at local bars, bathhouses and special events.

A unique space called The Tool Shed provided by ACO is a part of its harm reduction program. It offers harm reduction services and education. It is a community partner to Ottawa’s Needle Exchange Program and Safer Inhalation Program.

The Tool Shed works with the community in challenging the stigma and discrimination of people who use substances, as well as providing information regarding safer substance use.

The Living Room is another fantastic resource at ACO. It provides an array of free, confidential, practical and psychosocial services for its members.

The Living Room provides advocacy resources, as well as crisis intervention, holistic health promotion, a food bank, a soup and sandwich program, bus tickets, laundry facilities, Internet and fax, as well as subsidized YMCA gym memberships.

Other resources include: complementary therapies supported by qualified therapists, referrals to health/social/legal and immigration services as well as multiple socials and groups.

Ottawa Life Magazine had the opportunity to meet with Khaled Salam, the Executive Director of ACO.

Khaled

Khaled Salam, Executive Director of the ACO.

Khaled Salam has been with ACO for over 12 years. He works as their the Executive Director, and within seconds of meeting Salam, it’s clear that he takes pride in ACO’s services as well as the new location.

“We wanted to bring together our past and our future. With the Living Room, we wanted to create something that was very homey and cozy, not very institutional. People can come in and feel that they are in a home.”

ACO’s new space opened on December 1, 2014, coinciding with World AIDS Day.

When asked if he feels that the stigma attached to HIV/AIDS has lessened over his time with ACO, Salam feels strongly that the stigma is still present.

“30 years ago the stigma was different in that people were dying. There was very little information and a lot of fear. Because of this, there was a different kind of stigma. The stigma has changed in certain ways, but it’s still there.”

Salam does admit that information has become widely and readily available. However, there is more work to be done.

“I feel that (the stigma) is still there because of how HIV/AIDS is transmitted. Sex and drugs are the two primary modes of transmitting and both are highlight stigmatized in our society. Until we take out the stigma from sex and drugs, the stigma of HIV/AIDS will always be there.”

This stigma and discrimination have been of ACO’s biggest challenges.

“I had this moment when one of our founders (who was being interviewed for the Project) was talking about securing office space because stigma was running rampant. Believe it or not, while we were in the process for finding space, we faced similar challenges 30 years later.”

The Legacy Project was born out of an idea to combat the stigma related to HIV/AIDS.

The Project celebrates ACO’s milestone 30th anniversary. One component of the project includes the coffee table book ACO XXX: Our Words Our Stories Our Lives.

The title was a wink to the three decades ACO has been a non-profit, as well as hinting to a message of sex positivity that the group upholds.

In what Salam refers to as the “heart and soul” of the book, ACO XXX contains 38 interviews and photos of founders of the movement, people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as people who have been affected by HIV/AIDS.

All those interviewed and photographed are citizens of Ottawa.

Quite appropriately, the book ends with looking ahead at ACO’s future. Salam feels that the book sheds light on who is impacted by HIV/AIDS, how it feels to be stigmatized and was written in a way that people can connect with.

ACOXXX Banner

Another component of the project is a digital copy of the book that can be viewed on the website. The website will also showcase video blogs of those featured in the book.

On September 19, the interviews will be live on the website, providing an up close and personal look at those who are willing to share their story with the world.

The final component is a fundraiser.

“We are not attaching a dollar value to the book. We want to put the book out there as much as we can. If people feel that we have done some level of justice to the HIV/AIDS movement, or we have been able to succeed in providing some level of awareness to HIV/AIDS, then please donate back to our services and programs of what you feel is appropriate,” says Salam.

Along with donations, ACO has partnered with Value Village to create the 30/30/30 project.

The 30’s reference the number of days the deal with Value Village will be (from August 19 to September 19), to the number of pounds of clothing suggested to drop off, to the number of years ACO has been in action.

ACO encourages those who need to do a little closet cleaning to drop off 30 pounds (or approximately 2 garbage bags full) of donations to Value Village. If you say “ACO” when you drop off your donations, you will receive a 20% off coupon for Value Village.

The limited time offer ends on September 19, 2015.

Salam hopes that the community will be proud of the project as a whole, and that it is also important to recognize that the HIV movement is very difficult to recount, due to the multiple deaths related to HIV/AIDS.

“This is our humble attempt at doing some kind of justice,” he says.

Authentically Urszula

September 10, 2015 1:52 pm
Giraffe Trio FINAL

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

Photographer Urszula Kozak was born in Brenna, Poland, a former communist town near the Czech border. Surrounded by farms, animals and familial love, Kozak’s childhood was an extraordinary one. At the age of eight, Kozak arrived in Toronto with her family in November of 1984. Canada has since become her home.

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

Crediting her mother’s partner for her introduction to photography, Kozak picked up her first camera at the age of 12. She soon began snapping photos of anything and everything that she could. After moving to Ottawa in 2004, Kozak made photography her full time job.

Kozak’s gallery series Authentic Africa presents an intimate look at Africa’s creatures, both big and small. Shot entirely in black and white, Authentic Africa will be presented at the Alpha Art Gallery from September 9th to October 10th.

We sat down with Kozak and discussed her favourite locations to shoot, her adventurous trip to Africa and future plans.

The interview has been edited for clarity.

Ottawa Life Magazine: What are some of your favourite shooting locations?

Urszula Kozak: I have been to over 30 countries. I would say definitely Africa, in Kenya. One of the biggest life changing moments was travelling there. The people, the animals, the light, it’s incredible. I always encourage everybody to go and to experience that. I especially love the animals, because every year there is less and less of them.

I love South East Asia… the people, the culture there, and the food. I love shooting the water in Hawaii. Europe too, I love the little towns and the architecture.

OLM: What inspired Authentic Africa?

Urszula: The animals… I wanted to do something that took away the colour and focused on the animal. I wanted to shoot them like how you shoot a human being. I wanted to get into their souls and capture that, get people to look and feel for the animals. I wanted to raise more passion and awareness.

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

I loved shooting the lions. They were very fun, especially the cubs. When you watch them interact with the adults it’s incredible. The giraffes, too, I spent a lot of time with them. Ironically, the hippos were very fun. They aren’t the prettiest of animals, because they’re rough and tough. But they have character and they are very interesting.

OLM: I was looking through the photos and they were just so crisp.

Urszula: Wait until you come to the showing. I have about four prints at like 40 x 60, and they are still crisp. I saw them at that size and even I was blown away. Especially the lion head, it’s bigger than life.

OLM: Was the trip planned specifically for the showing?

Urszula: I went to Africa with the intention for the gallery. It was really planned around that. I went with a specific guide, my own vehicle and my own tent. If I wanted to spend all day with the lions and the cubs, then I could.

At one point during the trip, I got really, really sick. There was a moment where I was curled up in the fetal position by the Mara River thinking “If I’m gonna die here, at least I’ll be eaten by lions.” Then my guide told me to stop taking my Malaria pills because it wasn’t a bad area there, and nobody else was taking them. Soon as I stopped I was fine.

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

Photo courtesy of Urszula Kozak

OLM: Did you have any crazy adventures along the way?

Urszula: I had a wild experience there (in Nairobi). The guide that took me was experienced and well known, and he’s able to go off the paths and into spots that a tourist can’t go into. At one point there was a couple of big lions against the tree, in the shade. He told me to get out of the truck on the opposite side and take photos from underneath the truck.

I also got out of the car around hippos. They are really, really dangerous. My guide was watching me shoot them along the river. He said, “If I say run, drop your stuff and run.” I take those moments very seriously and do them quickly.

OLM: Would you say that pressure makes you preform better?

Urszula: It does. I find when I have something new and exciting and I’m learning in the process, it gives me an extra ‘oomph.’

OLM: What will be your next series to shoot?

Urszula: I would really like to return to Africa or Tanzania. We’re planning that for next year. I really, really loved this trip. India is on my list as well. It’s all about timing.

You can find Urszula on her website, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. You can also find out more information about Alpha Art Gallery as well as the exhibit here.

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