Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. WOW offers a platform for us to celebrate this history and the future it will help…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
In our city’s history, immigrants have always played an important role. They build our economic prosperity, diversify our culture, contribute to our social vitality.

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa
The City of Ottawa will continue to play a lead role in the implementation of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy, just as we did in the founding of OLIP.

Steve Desroches
City Councillor and Deputy Mayor of Ottawa
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
I’m really impressed with the level of energy and commitment around the Health and Wellbeing table and look forward to continuing collaboration between OLIP and OPH.

Marcela Tapia
Ottawa Public Health
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
The target beneficiary of the work of OLIP is the whole community. In this short period we have planted together important seeds for Ottawa’s development.  

Dick Stewart
OLIP Council
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa
My nomination is an indication that our hard work in building Canada is recognized. All we do is to serve the community in return for embracing us when we needed it.  

Mehdi Mahdavi
Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards Nominee
The Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre is so happy to have joined the OLIP Health and Wellbeing Sector Table. It is clear that OLIP cares about immigrants and refugees and…

Wendy Tang, Ottawa Chinese Community Service Centre

Stories and Faces of a Welcoming City

July 2, 2015

Ephrem Nisrane, right, nominated Pierre Charest for his support in Ephrem's job search.

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!

WOW Ambassador portraits were on display at Ottawa Police Service's Diversity Celebration.

WOW Ambassador portraits were on display at Ottawa Police Service’s Diversity Celebration.

Just send an email to 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!