Last night in at the City of Ottawa Archives, the Embassy and the City of Ottawa hosted Dr. Lauren Onkey, Vice President of Education and Public Programs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Dr. Onkey was visiting Ottawa to take part in the “Ottawa Rocks!” exhibit. Before speaking at the event, however, she sat down with us to talk about what she does. Watch the video below, or head over to the Embassy’s podcast page to download the full interview!
On Thursday, December 5th, the Embassy is partnering with the City of Ottawa Archives for an evening with Dr. Lauren Onkey from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Click on the picture below for complete details!
This Sunday, November 10th, the Embassy is working with the Jewish Federation of Ottawa and other partners to present launch event for Holocaust Education Month. Click the poster below for event details, and read on to find out more.
The Shoah (Holocaust) Committee of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa organizes Holocaust Education Month (HEM) events in the city each year. This year’s HEM theme is the history of Polish Jewry with a focus on Jan Karski, a Polish World War II resistance movement fighter who later became a professor at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
In 1942 and 1943, Karski reported to the Polish government in exile and to the Western Allies on the situation in German-occupied Poland, especially the destruction of the Warsaw Ghetto and the German-Nazi extermination camps in Poland. On July 28, 1943, Karski personally met with President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Oval Office, telling him about the situation in Poland and becoming the first eyewitness to tell him about the Jewish Holocaust.
The 2013 HEM event series will be held in November, with a free launch event at 6 p.m. on November 10 at the Agudath Israel Synagogue. The keynote speaker for the launch is Professor David Engel of New York University, a U.S. expert on Polish Jewry who has undertaken unique research on Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass. Kristallnacht was a pogrom against Jews carried out throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria that occurred on Nov. 9-10, 1938. The attacks left the streets covered with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues. It is viewed by historians as the event that marked the beginning of the Holocaust. Professor Engel’s presentation will commemorate the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
The keynote event for HEM 2013 is a photo exhibit titled “Jan Karski’s Mission for Humanity,” to be held at the Canadian War Museum November 14 through 29. The exhibit is free to the public.
This year’s HEM program is being presented together with several partners: The Embassy of Poland, The Embassy of Israel, The Embassy of the United States of America, the Canadian Polish Congress, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and the Canadian War Museum. The Karski exhibition was created by the Polish History Museum and the Jan Karski Educational Foundation. Valuable assistance has also been provided by The Canadian Chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.
If you are interested in attending the launch event or finding out more about HEM events in Ottawa, please visit jewishottawa.com/shoah.
Sonaar Luthra is CEO and co-founder of Water Canary, a company seeking to transform the fight against waterborne illness and water-related emergencies with real-time water quality information.
Earlier this year, he visited Ottawa to take part in a roundtable discussion entitled “Water, Weather and Global Warming.” Afterwards, he sat with us to talk about what his company does.
For more information on Mr. Luthra and Water Canary, visit www.watercanary.com. To download a podcast of this interview, visit http://canada.usembassy.gov/podcast.html.
Written by Kate Brown, Cultural Affairs Assistant
One of the best parts of my job in the Cultural Affairs Section is that often it doesn’t feel like work. As a locally engaged Canadian staff member at the Embassy, it’s a privilege to share my knowledge of the region with my American colleagues. They spend three long years here, after all. They need to experience a skate on the canal, a spring day at the sugar bush, and the best poutine the city has to offer…
On Monday, September 9th, we spent the day with someone who is prouder of her hometown than I ever thought possible. Wendy Leblanc loves Carleton Place so much that she became the mayor.
Carleton Place is located just outside Ottawa’s city limits, about 20 minutes South West of Kanata. Situated along the Mississippi River (the Canadian one), it is a town of just under 10,000 people with a main street that makes you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. You know that you’re firmly planted in 2013, however, when you learn that the majority of the businesses that line the retro town’s Bridge Street are owned by women!
Mayor Leblanc gave us a personal tour of Carleton Place and shared with us information about some of the programs they run in her community, including a grant program for women in entrepreneurship (which is, evidently, a success).
She took us through the Town Hall, showed us the council chambers, town vault (we know all the secrets now…) and the fantastic auditorium where the Mississippi Mudds theatre group performs on one of North America’s few remaining raked stages.
Mayor Leblanc took us back to her home for a quick lunch in her impressive garden. We discussed possible collaborations, including the Carleton Place — Franklin, Tennessee Sister Cities initiative.
We then went on a boat cruise on the Mississippi courtesy of >Friends in Sportfishing, a volunteer run charitable organization dedicated to providing free fishing experiences for any group of people with special needs. They operate a fleet of five modified 28 foot pontoon boats, and provide the accessible boats, crews, and fishing equipment. We’ve been doing more disability awareness programming this year, so meeting the crew and learning about their work was very interesting.
Mayor Leblanc had put on her Indiana Jones hat before we’d arrived and raided the town museum for photos to bring along on the cruise. She passed around historical pictures of Carleton Place as we passed the sites. For instance, the Carleton Place Canoe Club is Canada’s oldest continually operating canoe club; Roy Brown, the WWI pilot who shot down the infamous Red Baron, was born and raised in Carleton Place and still has relatives living in the area; Dinky Dooley Island, our turn-around point on the cruise, is located on the 45th parallel, exactly half way between the equator and the north pole. That’s right. We circumnavigated Dinky Dooley Island. And we have the certificates to prove it.
All in all, it was a great day to be a Cultural Affairs staffer – to tour a corner of the National Capital Region with which I was unfamiliar, and to learn about its history and the town’s continuous efforts to create a successful and sustainable community. Mayor Leblanc taught me a thing or two about community pride. She loves her town and the people in it. She gives back every day.
In my role at the Embassy, I like to think that’s something I can do for Ottawa, too.
Earlier this year, the Embassy provided a grant to the organization for Multicultural Arts for Schools and Communities (MASC) to bring a Native American (aboriginal), Kelly Church, to be a guest artist and speaker. Church, a well-known Native American artist, visited two Ontario high schools — one in New Liskeard, Ontario and Rideau High School in Ottawa. In Ottawa, students from the Aboriginal High School joined with the Rideau High School students. Kelly teamed up with Canadian Aboriginal story-teller Daniel Richer to use cooking and storytelling to highlight aspects of the traditional Native American/Aboriginal lifestyle that still have relevance today.
While visiting the schools, she worked with classes primarily populated by Aboriginal students. She focused on nutritious eating and the benefits of the traditional Aboriginal diet. She also discussed the contrasts between the social and environmental conditions that shape rural diet vis-à-vis urban diets. Kelly Church is also fairly well known for her artistic abilities in creating traditional aboriginal pieces; she used her skills to teach the students how to bind books, create edible art, practice “birch bark biting”, along with a plethora of other activities.
As a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa in Michigan, Kelly Church educated the students on cultures and land shared by Aboriginal peoples across Canada and the United States. In the days that she was educating the students, she created dialogue between two similar groups of people facing the same issues and barriers in hopes that these will bring their people in a closer relationship.
The Embassy hosted Ariel Nasr, producer of the Oscar nominated film Buzkashi Boys, and screened the film for embassy staff and guests. The film tells the coming of age story between two best friends whose path to manhood is set in the tumulus war-torn capital of Afghanistan, Kabul. The film focuses on the national sport of buzkashi, a game of horse polo played with a dead goat, and the struggles of living in one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The filmmaker, Ariel Nasr, comes from a diverse background; his mother is American, his father is Afghan and he currently resides in Montreal. While Nasr was at the embassy, he spoke about how his interest on east and west relations and perceptions was an inspiration for the film. To him, the western perception of the east and vice-versa are drastically different but at times very similar. For example he likened Canada’s bilingual French-English policies to Afghanistan’s bilingual Pashto-Dari (Persian) policies. As an Afghan-American-Canadian, he provided an insightful view of the relationships that these three countries share together. Nasr also told the story of how he picked one of the young actors, portraying the protagonist in the film, off the streets in Kabul to act in his film.
Later in the year, the film was nominated for an Oscar academy award. Nasr attended the Oscars while bringing along the two young Afghan boys for an once-in-a-lifetime chance. Unfortunately the film lost to Shawn Christensen’s Curfew, but this proved to be a crucial point in Nasr’s early career as a filmmaker and producer.
Related: Ariel Nasr Interview
This past year, the Embassy in collaboration with the Canadian Film Institute (CFI), brought the internationally renowned American independent filmmaker, Hal Hartley, to Ottawa to attend screenings of some of his films. Hal Hartley has been praised as a unique and creative talent in the American independent film sector, and has collected numerous awards for his exceptional depictions of contemporary society. Hartley writes, directs, and scores all the music for his films, and has done so for twelve feature films since his 1989 debut of the film, The Unbelievable Truth.
Brought up to Canada’s capital through a grant, Hartley showcased his films Trust and Meanwhile, two unique stories set in the United States. Trust tells the story of a pregnant high-school dropout who develops a relationship with a man who was recently fired from his job. And Meanwhile tells the story of man who crosses Manhattan trying to find his friend’s apartment keys while crossing paths with a variety of interesting characters. Hartley was on hand at the screenings to introduce each film as well as participate in a question-and-answer session with the audience.
In addition to film screenings and lectures, Hartley participated in several interviews, including one with the CFI Executive Director, Tom McSorley, as well as an interview with the Embassy, which you can view below. Also included in his visit, Hartley met with the Independent Filmmakers’ Co-operative of Ottawa to discuss his unique style of filmmaking and spoke at a few Masters’ level classes at Carleton University’s Film Studies Department.