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Think You Got Game?

June 30, 2016 1:00 am
Think You Got Game?

Attention all basketball players! Think you got game? Back for a second year is the Got Game Ottawa basketball tournament. After player input from last year’s event, this year’s tournament is being held across two days on July 9th and 10th at La Cité Collégiale, a sponsor of the tournament.

Got Game Ottawa is a charity event which raises funds to help a different charity each year. This year, the goal is to raise $800 towards Shelter Them, a Canadian children’s charity which helps orphaned children in Rwanda. All proceeds will help develop a soccer program for the orphans by purchasing equipment and paying for coaches.

The tournament features both mens and women’s competitions and will host roughly 120 players aged 18 and up. In addition to the basketball competition, there will be other events for spectators to look forward to. A special performance will be held at halftime on both days, along with a dunk competition.

A group of children in Shelter Them’s soccer program. Photos courtesy of Shelter Them.

A group of children in Shelter Them’s soccer program. Photos courtesy of Shelter Them.

Some of the prizes include shoes from NRML Clothing for the men’s MVP and a mixtape from Underdog Mixtapes to recognize the hardest working player on the court. Attendees will also receive discount cards to NRML.

Team spaces have filled up, but people are welcome to come cheer the teams on. If you’re not able to make the event and still want to contribute to this amazing cause, you can click here.

A Less-Than Silent Epidemic

June 29, 2016 3:55 pm
29 October 2007
Patrol Base Wilson, Zhari District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

Canadian medical personnel carry a Canadian soldier to a waiting American UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in order to evacuate him from Patrol Base Wilson to Kandahar Airfield for further medical attention. 

About 2500 CF members are currently serving as part of Joint Task Force Afghanistan Roto 4. The personnel consist primarily of the 3rd Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment (3 R22eR) from the 5e Group-brigade mécanisé du Canada (5 GBMC) Valcartier, Quebec. They, along with other supporting members from various units in the CF, play a key role in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission to improve security in Afghanistan and assist in the rebuilding process.

Photo by MCpl Robert Bottrill, Canadian Forces Combat Camera


Photo by MCPL Robert Bottrill.

Tinnitus is a word you may not know, but it describes something you’ve probably felt. It’s that ringing in your ears, the one that bubbles to the surface when you’re lying in your quiet room after a rock concert or a baseball game where the home team scored just a few more runs than your eardrums probably needed. If you think about it, you may be able to hear that sound right now.

As you might have guessed, tinnitus is a sign of hearing damage. For most people, it’s just an occasional annoyance, some even consider it a welcome side effect, proof of a good night. But for hundreds of thousands of Canadians, especially veterans, the ringing won’t go away.

It’s easy to imagine why veterans are disproportionately affected by hearing damage. Gunfire, artillery and airplane engines are a lot louder than most drum kits. In 2014, the US Department of Veterans Affairs revealed that tinnitus had become the number one disability claim for US veterans, higher than both PTSD and hearing loss, although the three often come hand in hand.

The numbers for Canadian veterans aren’t as well documented, but considering Canadians face the same sounds as American soldiers, with arguably less protection, there’s no reason to believe that the danger isn’t just as present here as it is across the border.

Rodney Taylor

Rodney Taylor, doctor of Audiology. Photo by Paul Couvrette.

“In the US, there are special plugs that can reduce sound 60 or 70 decibels…the most you can do here with the military that I’ve seen is around 30 decibels,” says Rodney Taylor, a Doctor of Audiology who has worked with a number of Canadian veterans through his three Advanced Hearing Aid Clinics in Ottawa.

Clinics like Taylor’s can treat tinnitus to the point that the patient doesn’t notice the buzzing anymore, but the biggest barrier for veterans is funding. Although tinnitus is very common among soldiers, it’s not covered by Veterans Affairs in the same way that more widely known issues like hearing loss are.

“It is a lack of understanding on the part of Veterans Affairs,” Taylor says.

Although Veterans Affairs Canada provides coverage for hearing loss, it often fails to recognize that hearing loss and tinnitus can come separately. Patients who don’t meet the department’s hearing loss criteria can have severe tinnitus that affects their lives just as negatively as hearing loss would, but they have a much smaller chance of getting coverage.

Hearing loss and tinnitus can have huge effects on a sufferer’s life, but there is another, more painful way that hearing or brain trauma can manifest. Sound sensitivity sufferers often can’t stand even low levels of noise. An average conversation can seem jarringly loud, and many people who experience this have to avoid doing things they once loved, like visiting a favourite restaurant or walking down a particularly busy street.

“These people do not leave their house,” Taylor says. He explains how one of his patients contracted a virus overseas which caused sound sensitivity, and when this person first visited Taylor’s office, he was wearing sound-dampening headphones over top of foam earplugs to keep the excruciating sounds of the outside world away.

Sound sensitivity sufferers often come to Taylor’s office simply looking for earplugs. They don’t realize that the illness is treatable.

“Sound sensitivity is my favourite because it’s such an easy fix,” says Taylor. While not every case is curable, many patients’ hearing can be returned to normal by wearing a hearing aid that constantly stimulates their brain, getting their ears used to the sound again. The treatment, Taylor says, generally takes about one to two months.

One of the most frustrating things about the varying forms of hearing damage is that sufferers, and some doctors, don’t realize they can be treated.

“I think typically veterans go to their doctors and are told to learn to live with it, they think there’s nothing that can be done,” Taylor says. “And that’s just simply not true.”

Perth’s World Record Kilt Run

12:11 pm
Perth’s World Record Kilt Run

Nowhere is the past more present than in Perth, Ontario. The little town just outside of Ottawa is now in its 200th year, and celebrations recognizing its long history in Canada are in full swing.

And nothing stands out more than Perth’s World Record Kilt Run. Originally envisioned by Terry Stewart as a means to celebrate the 800th anniversary of Perth, Scotland; Perth, Ontario’s first Kilt Run broke world records in 2010, with over 1,000 participants running in tandem with their tartans.

Because of Perth’s milestone anniversary, this year’s Kilt Run was a much bigger affair, and a huge labour of love for those involved in orchestrating the event. Over 4,500 runners participated in a variety of different runs, from a Royal mile (measured in an official 1816 Scottish mile distance), a 5 mile, a half marathon and a full marathon. For the past seven years, the kilt run has been donating its funds to the Ottawa MS Society, in memory of Stewart’s mother who had the disease, and because Canada and Scotland have the highest incidences of MS in the world. This year Wheels of Hope, an offshoot of the Canadian Cancer Society that helps provide people with transportation to their cancer treatments, also received a portion of the funds raised by the event.

The festivities ran a three-day period, starting on Friday with scotch tastings, to Saturday’s Haggis Hurling Championships (the largest of its kind in the world) and ending on Sunday with a full marathon that finished at Ecotay, one of the Tay Valley’s most historic sites. The little quiet town was filled with new faces, some were obviously experienced marathon runners geared up in their running outfits, and some just wanted to participate in the out-of-the-box run. When it came down to it, the weekend only had one rule: all runners must wear a tartan.

Even Gilbert Kiptoo, a world famous marathon runner who was personally invited by Stewart to participate in the marathon, had to don a kilt. Kiptoo won the marathon with a time of 2:57, although his personal best was in Dublin at 2:08. He also ran the 5 km the day before just for the fun of it.

Kiptoo is originally from Kenya, and was born into a family with 17 brothers and sisters. He’s used marathon running as a means to travel the world.

In fact, Kiptoo has run marathons in over 20 countries.

“I’ve lost count of how many runs. For a time, I was running a marathon every week,” said the runner, seemingly unfazed after the 42 kilometre trek.

Kiptoo told Ottawa Life that he thought Perth was a good place to be, and that he’ll like to come back next year if there was another run.

But kilted running wasn’t the only thing to see this weekend in Perth. Music played a big part in the festivities. Graham Beck was the music director of the three-day event. He and the Kilt Run team organized quite the mix of Celtic and modern acts.

Everything Fitz, a Celtic family band stepped onto the stage at Stewart Park on Saturday, The Harp Twins, two young sisters from Chicago armed with sleek silver harps were also quite a sight to see and hear. Also, Ben Caplan, whose hit song “40 Days and 40 Nights” is big in Canada right now, rocked the stage at Stewart Park on Saturday night.

Beck, a lover of music, also donated two Tragically Hip tickets to the silent auction at Ecotay; a true gesture of charity, knowing all too well that those tickets are worth their weight in gold.

The event wrapped up on the hot humid Sunday afternoon with marathon runners finishing in the original and restored cow barn at Ecotay, clad with handmade medals, and offered free massages, dips in either a hot or cold tub, beer, pancakes and more, while the Harp Twins serenaded the crowd up above.

The Perth Kilt Run raised over $40,000 this past weekend, reaching over $125,000 since its inception, and raised the hopes for perhaps another, and an even bigger, kilt run next year.

Renée Landry Ready for Sold Out Tribute to Amy Winehouse

11:37 am
Renée Landry Ready for Sold Out Tribute to Amy Winehouse

Photos courtesy of Dominique Lacroix.

“I felt the loss. It was just so tragic and she deserved so much more. The world can be a very cruel place,” says Ottawa vocalist Renée Landry, remembering how she felt when she heard the news that Amy Winehouse, at only 27 years of age, had died of accidental alcohol poisoning.

“I don’t think people saw how big her impact was till it was too late,” Landry tells Ottawa Life before her Winehouse tribute show on July 2 at LIVE on Elgin.

12512724_10154163970887022_722594939134327781_n“She brought this incredible new jazz sound full force into mainstream music, and opened the doors for other artists like myself to do so. Amy had such a unique sound and writing style. I actually became a big Amy fan after she had passed away. I received all her albums for Christmas and just fell in love. Isn’t that always the case though? Great artists are never appreciated in their own time.”

While Winehouse grew up in London’s Southgate district, Landry was a Sault Ste. Marie kid catching concerts at Loplops Lounge or camping at Pancake Bay. Her parents always had music playing around the house and, even early on, it was clear that she was born to be a performer. Her parents still have pictures she drew at four that relay Landry’s dream of becoming a singer.

“Being a singer was never a choice; it’s who I am. There was never another option, or a back-up plan,” she says, recalling how she started performing at a young age. Dancing, singing, anywhere there was a stage, Landry wanted to be on it.


Tribute art new Winehouse’s Camden town home in London. Photo by Andre Gagne.

Picking up their first guitars in their teens, both Winehouse and Landry become more serious about pursuing music when they were in high school. Landry became focused on the dynamics of performance, watching and re-watching Britney Spears videos for hours to try to emulate every single step of the choreography. The earliest performance she can remember was at Boo Soo, a local winter festival, where, dressed in an Alicia Keys style outfit complete with fedora, she belted out the Keys 2001 soul hit “A Woman’s Worth”. It was only a taste of what was to come.

HR-3087One year before Winehouse’s death, Landry moved to Ottawa to study music at Carleton. She believes this was her first big step toward making those childhood dreams a reality. Here she made her first real connections, started performing alongside other musicians and, paid or not, played live anywhere she could.

“I think the main thing is not waiting around for opportunities to find you,” Laundry, who would go on to graduate with honours, says.


Winehouse mural in Camden Town, London. Photo by Andre Gagne.

It’s this mantra that drove her to create her own projects when offers weren’t coming her way. The singer wasn’t going to compromise her vision even when people were telling her to change directions. Looking back, Landry doesn’t regret not following the advice that she should change her sound to be more modern, but she does admit that comments regarding her weight stung.

“Having someone tell me I needed to change who I was or comment on every little flaw tore me apart. I used to really stress about losing weight, how I looked, and I hated my curly hair. I don’t focus on my flaws anymore; I just work on being the best self I can be, and loving me for me. I don’t think I could have said that a few years ago, and unfortunately in this industry it can be very destructive for a young woman. It’s very important to me that I remain a good role model for girls, and I think society is slowly shifting their beauty standards as well. This is why I’m grateful for the journey I’ve been on.”

HR-3057At the same time in her life, Winehouse was far from a role model, spiraling fast into drug addiction while damaging her image and career with disastrous public appearances. The opening night of her 2007 tour saw the crowd turn on the singer and a critic for the Birmingham Mail wrote that it was “one of the saddest nights of my life. I saw a supremely talented artist reduced to tears, stumbling around the stage and, unforgivably, swearing at the audience.” She wouldn’t finish the tour, cancelling the remaining dates stating that she needed rest. A few years later she was dead.

Landry sees through a lot of the tragedy in Winehouse’s life and says that she shares many of the musician’s more positive traits.

“I think we are both very strong, confidant women. She knew who she was and she stuck to it. She never let anyone push her around or try to change her when it came to her music, and I feel like I’m the same way. Amy was also a very emotional and sensitive person. She loved and felt very deeply. That can be the downfall of being an artist. We’re so in touch with our emotions,” she says, adding that she is not without her own dark moments, stresses and periodical depressions.


“Thankfully I’ve always been able to pull myself out of those moments and find my happiness.”

The idea to tribute Winehouse was an obvious choice to Landry, who is often compared to her because of their similar jazz vocal style. She says trying to learn Amy’s songs has been difficult, but it was important to pay the musician the respect she feels is deserved. Along with performing, Landry has arranged the event, worked on the marketing and promotion and put together the musicians sharing the stage with her. The work paid off. “Back to Black: A Tribute to Amy Winehouse,” sold out three weeks ago.

Artwork in tribute of Winehouse near her Camden Town home. Photo by Andre Gagne.

Artwork in tribute of Winehouse near her Camden Town home. Photo by Andre Gagne.

Landry plans to release her first EP, Chin Up, by the fall and during the holiday season will be performing a Christmas show in tribute to one of her greatest influences, Ella Fitzgerald. She also gives private vocal lessons and those interested can book a trial now for only $30.

As the show nears, Landry doesn’t know how performing Winehouse’s music will affect her on stage. Through putting the show together she feels an even deeper connection to the musician, but admits she wouldn’t have been the one to give Winehouse advice even in the singer’s worst times.

“Amy was extremely smart. She was a strong but fragile woman. I think she knew she was on a dangerous path, and that she had to clean up her act, but she was sick. You can never judge someone unless you have been in that position yourself. She tried very hard to get clean, but in the end the disease of addiction overcame her.”

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