HOK #123: Meet Kathy Unsworth

Photo courtesy of Kathy Unsworth

“I am a public health specialist and I work for a not-for-profit organization, where my focus is on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. I work with researchers all across Canada—I do my own research as well—and then the other part of my job is to take that research and translate it into evidence to support better policy. 

I grew up outside of Ottawa in a small town called Alcove, which is five kilometres north of Wakefield—so only about 30 minutes away from Ottawa. I moved away for a long time, starting when I went to university in Toronto. 

I lived there for a while and that was where I and my husband at the time worked. He was a lawyer with an American firm and got a job offer in California. 

We were there for a couple of years and then that same firm offered him a job in Abu Dhabi in the Middle East. It sounded like a great adventure so we decided to give it a try. My oldest daughter was only four months old at the time and we had our other two kids there. 

It was, however, a big culture shock. Abu Dhabi is the Capital of the United Arab Emirates, so it’s a little more conservative because that’s where the government is. But it’s also very Westernized.

Living in the Middle East was such a unique experience and, given its location, you had close proximity to the rest of the world. We travelled so much while we were there because it was easy and inexpensive. 

We were there for eight years: we didn’t plan to stay there for as long as we did, but it was an amazing experience where we also made a lot of friends. 

We missed the family and community. There is nothing like home. We only got to come home twice a year, sometimes three times. We were having an amazing experience and it was both professionally and personally great, but family and community is what brought us back. 

We moved back to Ottawa in 2010 because the kids were getting older, and we wanted them to live in a neighbourhood like Kitchissippi. We wanted our kids to live and grow in a place where their neighbours went to their school and they could walk to all the places which we really value here. 

The thing I love about living in Kitchissippi is that everything we need we can walk to. The restaurants are awesome—we take advantage of all the things the ward has to offer. It’s central also which is great because you’re never far from anything. It’s just brilliant because we are in close proximity to the water and Westboro beach. 

I’m grateful everyday for my life, my kids, and where I live. I know I’m very lucky.”

Story collected by Charlie Senack

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