Stories and Faces of a Welcoming CityJuly 2, 2015
What does it mean to be a welcoming city? What happens when a newcomer feels welcome in Ottawa? What happens when they don’t?
For the second year in a row, Welcoming Ottawa Week explores these questions through Stories and Faces of a Welcoming City, portraits of immigrants and the Ottawans who helped them feel at home. The Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP) and WOW co-chair Louisa Taylor invited immigrants to nominate someone who made a difference to their sense of belonging in Ottawa. We received many impressive nominations and invited 11 to a photo shoot with Ottawa photographer J. David Andrews on the grounds of Ottawa City Hall.
With the help of returning sponsor CanvasPop, we produced beautiful, full-colour portraits of 11 “Ambassadors of welcome” and the person who nominated them. We also compiled their stories: how they met, what they admire about each other and what welcome means to each of them. The trio of women seen above includes WOW Ambassador Yvette Yende-Ashiri flanked by her nominators Sabine Daniel and Rawan Dallasheh. Sabine and Rawan nominated Yvette separately for the friendship and networking she brings to every newcomer she meets.
The resulting exploration of diversity, friendship and belonging was front and centre at the Ottawa Immigration Forum, the kickoff event to Welcoming Ottawa Week 2015. The portraits were also the centrepiece of CBC Ottawa’s Welcoming Ottawa Week web site, and the canvases made appearances around town all week, including at Ottawa Police headquarters for their Diversity Celebration, at a networking breakfast for Francophone educators and at a storytelling session at Somerset West Community Health Centre.
Now all 11 portraits are on display in Jean Pigott Place at Ottawa City Hall. Open to the public and fully accessible, the exhibit runs from 10 a.m. Thursday, July 2 to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 3.
This is not the end for the Stories and Faces of a Welcoming City. We want the message of the Ambassadors to spread throughout the year, so we will bring the WOW Ambassador portraits to your workplace, community centre, place of worship or health care centre – all you have to do is ask! Planning a conference, networking session or festival, and need a vibrant illustration of diversity and community? We can help with that. Have an empty space that could use some uplifting visuals? We can help with that, too!
Just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of your event and we will contact you to make it happen.
As Rawan said of the way Yvette embraces new people and helps them make connections, “Being welcomed makes me feel I fit here.”
We think that is something to celebrate – and encourage!