BEST OF OTTAWA 2021: Changemakers and activists
After over 20-years writing about life in Ottawa, we think we have a pretty good idea of the best of what this city has to offer. In this weekly series, we share our picks with you — our top spots for takeout, live music venues, local brews, bands and more. Check, share and discuss #OLMBest every week!
Serving as the Executive Director of the Ontario Native Women’s Association for the past six years, McGuire-Cyrette is fully dedicated to addressing systemic discrimination faced by Indigenous women and coming up with innovative solutions to help solve the issue. McGuire-Cyrette’s core value is the “reclaiming of voice and story”— centering Indigenous women and their needs and experiences in everything the organization does.
Photo: Cora-Lee Mcguire-Cyrette Twitter
Originally from Toronto, Kevin Bourne found his creative spark in Ottawa. Bourne, also known as KB The Boss, recognized that aside from being the home of government, Ottawa is also home to some great talent. He saw an opportunity and started Shifter Magazine as a platform to celebrate Canada’s Black and urban culture and encourage a cultural shift. This year, Bourne joined CBC Ottawa hosting a show called “In the Loop” that features up and coming musical talent in Ottawa.
Photo: Kevin Bourne Facebook
A grassroots, municipal-focused organization, Horizon Ottawa is a strong voice in the city advocating for positive progress and change. The organization works endlessly to ensure that vital issues like environmentalism, inclusivity, Indigenous acknowledgement and reconciliation, racism, police violence and more are part of the discussions going on at City Hall. They regularly host petitions and protests to get the community involved in their advocacy.
Photo: Horizon Ottawa
Ryan Lythall was born with Nemaline Myopathy, a rare neuromuscular condition that inhibits the contraction of skeletal muscles. He grew up during a period when wheelchair-friendly access to public spaces and housing was non-existent but this hasn't held Lythall back. He has performed as a comedian and, in 2018, he ran for mayor of the City of Ottawa. Lythall continues to draw public attention towards societal barriers for the physically disabled through his editorial writing for local publications, including a weekly column on Ottawalife.com, and his social media.
Photo: Ryan Lythall
Wise Atangana is a brilliant musician, poet, and motivational speaker who is working to help educate others on the challenges Black and immigrant communities face in Canada. As a Black immigrant himself from Cameroon, Atangana knows the challenges first-hand. In February 2021, he founded the Afro-Black Cultural and Media Centre, an Ottawa-based organization that if fighting back against systemic racism by providing studio space, business management, marketing and other services to Black businesses, youth and organizations that are often excluded or discriminated against in other professional spaces.
Photo: Wise Atangana
No Peace Until Justice Ottawa
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, and countless other instances of police violence coming to light, No Peace Until Justice Ottawa was formed in Summer 2020. As a brand new, small organization, the team managed to successfully organize one of Ottawa’s biggest and most powerful street protests ever, bringing thousands together marching in support of Black lives and police reform.
Photo: No Peace Until Justice Ottawa
Osmel B. Guerra Maynes
Osmel B. Guerra Maynes has been the Executive Director of Capital Pride for just under two years now, but his anti-racism and 2SLGBTQ+ advocacy has been part of who he is for years. Maynes’ work focuses on advancing effective grassroots and province-wide social programming, enhancing the inclusion of marginalized voices, pushing for sound public policy, and overseeing effective strategic planning in the non-profit and charitable sectors.
Photo: Capital Pride
Julie Lalonde is an Ottawa-based author, public speaker and social activist with a focus in women’s rights. Lalonde is vocal about the systemic inequalities women face and the pervasive issue of violence against women. She has given over 300 presentations about harassment and how bystanders can come together and use their privilege to create communities of support. Lalonde has won numerous awards for her advocacy, including a prestigious Governor General’s Award.
Photo: Julie Lalonde, Twitter
Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa
A grassroots collective fighting for the rights of Indigenous Peoples and for decolonization, Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa has been a valuable voice in getting Ottawans to recognize the significance and history of the land and river we reside on. The organization aims to challenge the status quo and help people “decolonize their minds.”
Photo: Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa
Whether in the home, at the workplace, or just out and about, so many spaces can be dangerous for women. WISE Ottawa aims to create safer environments for women in all aspects of society. The organization regularly leads workshops, creates informative multimedia and holds fundraising events to support initiatives that emotionally, financially and physically help women escape abusive environments.
Photo: WISE Ottawa