Highlights of a Great BeginningJune 24, 2015
Welcoming Ottawa Week 2015 launched with ideas, facts and focus on Monday, as representatives from City Council, the City of Ottawa, settlement agencies, universities, community partners and many others gathered at the Marriott Hotel for the Ottawa Immigration Forum.
Presented by WOW organizers OLIP (Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership), the forum is an interactive event designed to give Ottawa a moment to reflect on how the city is faring in its efforts to improve immigrant integration and be a top destination for international talent. This year marks the end of the first five years of the OLIP partnership and the completion of the first period of implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy (2011-2014). The Ottawa Immigration Strategy has inspired the creation of the first-ever Municipal Immigration Strategy. The City of Ottawa is one of the few cities in Canada that has a formal strategy to guide its decision-making and development of policies toward enhancing the attraction, retention and integration of immigrants.
A variety of experts and decision-makers highlighted the theme of the day, Moving Forward on our Vision – Building on our Accomplishments, including:
- Corinne Prince St. Amand of Citizenship and Immigration Canada, who shared updates on Canadian immigration policy, including the new Express Entry system for skilled professionals
- Deputy Mayor Mark Taylor, who delivered an update on the City of Ottawa’s immigration strategy
- Researcher Michael Haan, who presented findings from his analysis of the demographics of Ottawa’s immigrant population as well as data on the city’s ability to not just attract but retain newcomers
- Dr. Branka Agic, Manager of Health Equity at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, who gave a sobering report on the gaps in mental health services for immigrants
WOW honorary co-chairs Sarah Onyango and Louisa Taylor also presented this year’s WOW Ambassadors Project, a photography exhibit that celebrates Ottawa residents who reach out to welcome newcomers through their friendship, career mentoring, hospitality or work.
Attendees were invited to contribute ideas for making Ottawa a more welcoming city, and later broke into groups to brainstorm for the next phase of OLIP’s work.
Throughout the morning, forum participants and WOW partners were active on social media, and even got #2015WOW trending in Canada on Twitter. CBC Radio and TV were on hand and produced stories on many aspects of both the forum and WOW, including a home page to showcase all its coverage of WOW.
Welcoming Ottawa Week is off to a great start – check back as the week unfolds for more highlights!