Students from Our Lady of Fatima celebrate National Aboriginal Day

Our Lady of Fatima

The Grade 6 students from Our Lady of Fatima School, 2135 Knightbridge Road, attended the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival on June 21,2013. They were over 3700 students and teachers at Vincent Massey Park. The students had an opportunity to talk with His Excellency, the Right Honourable Governor General David Johnston.

National Aboriginal Day celebrations at Westboro Kiwanis Park

Kitchissippi celebrated National Aboriginal Day at Westboro Kiwanis Park on June 20, with help from the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Dovercourt Recreation Centre and Aboriginal Experiences.

People of all ages, including kids from Churchill and Broadview schools and Dovercourt’s morning kindergarten program, enjoyed cultural displays, drumming and dance performances and educational activities.

Parkbus: Car-free camping from Kitchissippi

 

The first day of summer was also the launch of Parkbus, a new non-profit express service from Ottawa to Algonquin Provincial Park. Algonquin-bound campers and hikers boarded the bus either downtown or at MEC, 366 Richmond Road, on June 21, returning June 23.

Parkbus co-founder Alex Berlyand says the service is an alternative to car travel for people who want to enjoy hiking, canoeing and camping in Ontario’s wilderness. The service is also designed to encourage those new to camping and Ontario’s wilderness to give it a try.

While there isn’t capacity to transport canoes or kayaks on Parkbus, there are stops at outfitters within the park. A limited number of bikes are allowed on the bus, but space for your bike should be reserved at the time you book your ticket. If you are interested in bringing a pet with you, please contact Parkbus to discuss the options available.

While Parkbus runs a Toronto-Algonquin Park schedule every weekend, this year there are three pilot weekends between Ottawa and Algonquin Park. Tickets for Parkbus – which stops at multiple locations within the park for pick-up and drop-off – are on sale for the weekends of August 9-11 and September 20-22 from MEC.

Lemonade Standemonium

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Summer and lemonade go hand in hand. The hot weather tradition of hosting lemonade stands is fun for everyone, and a common childhood memory. Kicking it up a notch, the kids of Kitchissippi joined the rest of Ottawa on June 22 and turned their sweet business ventures into a fundraiser for childhood cancer research.

“The fundraiser is called the Great Canadian Lemonade Standemonium, and this is the event, there’s people having stands all over Ottawa today,” says Lindsay Firestone. She is sitting down on a bench in front of John’s Quick Lunch as her kids run around on the sidewalk in front of her. Behind them, the lemonade stand is selling cookies, and three varieties of fresh zesty flavours.

All the children are dressed in yellow t-shirts with the fundraiser logos on the front; energetic, despite the early start they had this morning.

“I am part of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation so we have been working on a few events and this is one we wanted to have to have kids involved,” she says. Firestone spent months visiting classrooms across the city to pitch the event to principles, teachers and kids.

“When we go into a classroom what we find is when we ask kids if they know anybody who has been touched by cancer almost ninety-five per cent of them raise their hands,” she says. “Whether it’s a teacher or a grandparent or a friend, what we’ve been finding is a lot of kids say they want to help and they don’t know how,” she says.

The fundraiser gives the kids a chance to get involved, and feel empowered in the process of helping something that affects so many people.

When approached with the idea Tony Hatoum owner of John’s Quick lunch and his wife Antonella Hatoum, who teaches at St. George, jumped at the opportunity to set up a stand in front of their restaurant.

“We knew we wanted to have one, Lindsay knew she wanted to have one, so we buddied up and put together a team effort,” says Antonella. “Tony built this great nostalgic barn board lemonade stand. It’s getting lots of feedback from people walking by and the customers, so definitely drawing the attention,” she says.

Antonella talked about the event at St. George, and her students were very receptive. She even has some competition down the road. “some of my students are set up at the natural food pantry, so they have their own going on,” she says.

Both Antonella and Firestone are excited about the communities involvement, and predict sweet success for the fundraiser.

“We just had the Mayor here to do an official ribbon cutting, so he opened our lemonade stand,” says Firestone. “I think if you get communities together they really want to help out,” she says.

“People have been super generous with their donations. There’s lots of twenties in there, twenty dollars is pretty generous for a glass of lemonade, I think,” says Antonella.

Broadview Public School: spring activities

Broadview Public School’s spring into action month encouraged students to think about healthy, active living. Walking to school, learning about the Kids Help line, choosing healthy snacks and participating in the kilometre club were all ways that Broadview’s young population started the season on the right foot.

1 – Ava Pezoulas (Westboro), Isabel Wettlaufer-Wang (Westboro), Morgan MacLeod (McKellar Park), Saer Edwards (Westboro), and Mattias Voogd (Highland Park) celebrate iWalk Wednesday and every day by walking to school.

2 – Kids Help Phone volunteer Suzie Shillington (Highland Park) spoke to students including son Evan Runia about mental health. Broadview participated in the May 5 Walk So Kids Can Talk fundraiser.

3 – Evan Runia (Highland Park) was on hand when mom and volunteer Suzie Shillington spoke to Grades 3-6 about mental health. Broadview teams walked May 5 to raise funds for Kids Help Phone.

4 – Grade 6 students get behind healthy snacks.

5 – Luka Fulford (McKellar Park) runs with heart during the launch of Broadview’s spring “Kilometre Club.”

Heather Heagney: Forging deep connections bite by bite through After the Harvest

Connecting with loved ones over good food and wine has always been a passion for Heather Heagney.

So when the Hintonburg resident launched her first book, After the Harvest: Eat.Drink.Connect. on June 13, she knew exactly how she wanted to celebrate – over Keturah Johnson’s live music, at Viens Avec Moi boutique in Wellington Village, with good food and wine among family and friends.

“It’s an excuse to eat, drink and connect,” she said with a smile, as she greeted her visitors at the door. “I wanted to share this with them first.”

The coffee table book celebrates food and wine, travel, fiction and entertaining. It features Heagney’s biggest passions – while including her love of photography and writing.

The book also stems from her food blog, After the Harvest.

She remembers always being interested in food and how people connect around it.

“When I was a child, my family was always passionate about food and we were always eating dinner together. Even after dinner was over, we would still sit around the table talking and laughing,” Heagney said. “I would write what people had for dinner in my diary. It was a bit of an obsession.”

She learned more about food and wine while working alongside a professional chef in Toronto, working in hospitality, and taking wine courses at George Brown College. As an English literature and cinema theory graduate from the University of Toronto, Heagney also developed a love for writing.
She decided to start a blog, where she featured stories and photos about food, wine and traveling. But felt she wanted to do more.

“I’d done some traveling in Hawaii and California and had some cool stories about food. So I sort of took the leap and thought, why not share them?” Heagney said.

The book is also something she shares with her sister, Wendy Heagney-Bakewell, who created the cover.
“My sister painted this gorgeous picture and I thought it was a perfect cover,” Heagney said.
She added that it still feels surreal seeing the finished product – and, that the book is inspired by the people she met while travelling.

Whether it’s through her blog or book, Heagney said she hopes readers walk away with a message of being kind to the environment through their food choices.

She also hopes readers begin to appreciate the memories that are made around the dinner table.
“Food is a big connecter and I hope people can think of the amazing times they’ve had together,” Heagney said. “You might not remember what you ate, but you remember the people around you.”
Her advice for those who want to transition from blogging to writing a book is to always stay passionate, and to simply go for it.

“When I can tell someone’s passionate about a subject they write, I enjoy reading it,” she said. “I say go for it, take time, and make sure you love what you are putting in the book.”

Sheila Rorke: Welcoming adult immigrants with individual tutoring

 

Sheila Rorke of Broadview Avenue is a local volunteer who gives her time to helping new immigrants to Canada learn English.

She is part of an organization called ELTOC (English Language Tutoring for the Ottawa Community), a non-profit organization that provides home tutoring for adult immigrants who are not able to attend regular English classes. Mostly this includes those who have commitments to family or work or health issues that do not allow them to get out of the house to a regular language class. Also, the program is only available to immigrants who have not yet received Canadian citizenship.

Volunteers like Sheila are given an orientation training course from ELTOC that prepares them in the techniques of teaching English as a second language. “They give us some very good training in what to expect and how to proceed,” says Rorke.

Sheila meets with her students in their home once a week for two to three hours to help build practical English skills. The initial language skills of each student can range from very little, to an intermediate level of understanding. They can start off with simple, everyday things like reading the grocery store flyer and doing the shopping.

Rorke has been a volunteer most of her life, spending many years with the Museum of Civilization, even as far back as its days as the Museum of Man. “You look far too young to have ever been at the Museum of Man,” she chuckles at me.

Volunteering with the ELTOC, Rorke finds fascination in the diversity of the many cultures the world has to offer. “I’ve traveled a fair amount to other countries, and I’m interested in other cultures,” she says. “It is interesting to get to know somebody who has come from somewhere else, that’s one of the real rewards of doing it.”

It’s a unique experience, to get an inside view of the life of someone who has just landed in a new country with a new culture, “They are very committed to making a life here. It really is a privilege to get to know them,” she says.

Through her travels, Sheila has always called Westboro home. She and her husband have been at their Broadview home since 1970. Looking out through the large, front window of their living room is a picturesque view of the Broadview Public School yard, “I find it quite entertaining and cheery to watch the kids,” she smiles.

Rorke herself attended Broadview Public School and Nepean High School, as did her two children. She has seen a great change come to her neighbourhood as Westboro burst forth into the community hub that it is today.

“When I first moved to this area, in the 1950s it was the very edge of the city,” she says. “There was a golf course just up that way [pointing West] and a little bit farther was country, and there was a street car line that we took downtown.”

Blaine Marchand: Prose poet retells his lyrical neighbourhood

Blaine Marchand sits in the dining room of The Bagel Shop on Wellington West, recounting the days when the room we are sitting in served as a funeral home. “That was the chapel back there (he points to the kitchen and line of people ordering coffee and toasted bagels). If you look at the window at the back you can see it’s like a church window.”

It is Marchand’s ability to look back into the past which has inspired his latest work: a series of prose poems that explore Wellington West the way he remembers it as a child growing up in the 50s and 60s.

Marchand, 64, has been publishing poetry for 34 years, earning recognition in the National Poetry Contest and the Archibald Lampman Award for Poetry for his book A Garden Enclosed. Having spent two years living in Islamabad, Pakistan and traveling frequently to Afghanistan, Marchand focuses on his travels to the Middle East in his contemporary work. Now, retired and living back at home on Warren Avenue as a full-time writer, Marchand is working to tell the story of local landmarks, long forgotten.

“I started the series because the area is changing, so things that I remember from growing up no longer exist,” he says. “When you hear people talk about the area, their memory only goes back a couple of years, or a decade. They don’t know the longer history.”

Marchand began his love of writing as a student at St. George School, a landmark that is one of the subjects of his poetry. He recounts other, ephemeral institutions – The Elmdale Theatre he used to frequent as a child is now a church, the restaurant at Clarendon and Wellington that once served as a teenage hangout is now Red Chair Kids.

Having spent over 50 years in the neighbourhood, Marchand has seen change and expansion come to the area. With residential infill and commercial development, certain unique services can be lost in the race for profit. “Do we need another restaurant in this area?” he says with a laugh and a frustration that’s visible.

“It’s an area that’s really in transition. Somehow I want to record, through the poems, what used to be here, so that maybe future generations know what it was at one time.”

Some things do stay the same, however. One positive consistency Marchand has enjoyed is the number of young families that are drawn to Kitchissippi, “When I was a kid growing up there were 40 kids in the one block, so it was a really fun place to be,” he says. “What I really like are the new families coming in with kids. I think that’s important.”

The new poems about Kitchissippi will be published in a book that will be counterpointed with poetry about Ottawa East, seen in the childhood days of Marchand’s mother – now 100 years old and still a resident of Kitchissippi.

Marchand is also reflecting on his time in Pakistan, with two books on the horizon. “One is poems based on my experiences and another will be taking poems by Pakistani authors and using lines from those poets to make new poems.”

 

St. George’s Yard
By Blaine Marchand

1.

And everywhere there was chanting. “Red rover, red rover…” Then September’s dust, like our voices, rose into the air. The scuffle of shoes pummelled by the chosen boy’s legs carrying him across the breach of yard. His gaze intent on arms linked like chain, all muscle and will, intent not to crumple but to hold him fast. He picks up speed, twists with determination toward the curvature of the smallest boys, calculating they are the chink that will buckle under his weight.

2.

Snow was the great equalizer. It levelled the yard with white expanse, perfect for wearing down to sheen by galoshes. We hurled our bundled bodies along its lustre as if caught by wind, freefalling through silver skies. But best was when snow held fast to itself. Boulder after boulder rolled until forts rose at the far ends of the yard, away from the eyes (or so we thought) of teachers. At recess and lunch hours, siege reigned supreme as our arms catapulted snowballs at the castle’s keepers. We were the invaders, the brothers in arms, history come out in the open, determined to take prisoners and plunder until the bell withdrew us back indoors to desks

3.

Oh glorious mud that sang at our heels grinding down into the spring-sprung earth, opening up a nook, a nest for prized cat’s eyes. It was not in the classroom, but here in the yard that we knuckled down. Addition, subtraction, division and multiplication might confound us, render us winter weary with schooling, but here calculation was intuitive, closer to hand, in the flick of forefinger against thumb. Such precise release had taught us the physics in the speed of glass, its arc through the air, its descent to clobber our opponent, and the roll in triumph into the hole.

4.

Dilapidated, downright dangerous, the parents in no uncertain terms told the nuns. But to us, the broken post and rail fence were the stuff of legends, the thrill of tales handed down of older boys, who on graduation and under the cover of darkness, kicked the fence in, left their mark by searing initials with smouldering smoke ends. The gouged decline of boards, a weather beaten runway to race Dinky cars  – a Packard convertible, a Studebaker Commander, a Chrysler New Yorker. Or, simply there to straddle like a horse, command as the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers in images that flickered on TVs at home. Each June, when the last bell clattered, it was a rite of passage, just as our rhyme “No more pencils, no more books”. We ran headlong into the indolent months, little aware, our return would be into a pen of smooth wire and the forgiving earth altered to asphalt, callous against our knees.

Jo-Anne Guimond: The Gratitude Project

Jo-Anne Guimond is daring to be grateful. She began by looking for a creative project for the year 2013. Two years ago, she embarked on a 365 photo project, taking a photo a day all year. She enjoyed the challenge, the discipline and the daily creative opportunity the project presented.

“We moved to Hintonburg and where we’re living is lovely beyond our expectations,” says Guimond, who began what’s she’s named The Gratitude Project (daretobegrateful.blogspot.ca) recently because she found herself “swimming in gratitude” and wondered if other people felt similarly grateful for their lives and, if so, how they might express that gratitude.

Part of the impetus for The Gratitude Project came from a carefully planned and long awaited Toronto to Vancouver train trip Guimond has is currently taking. A natural introvert, the blogger thought that wearing her “what are you grateful for?” t-shirt, to engage other passengers and to collect their stories en route would add another layer of meaning and connection to her journey.

“I started chatting with trusted creative advisors about this social engagement experiment and The Gratitude Project was born,” says Guimond who also plans to drop off stamped, self-addressed post cards at stops along the route and is looking forward to seeing what comes back to her.

“The time frame is 2013. At the end of the year I won’t force it to end or continue, I’ll see how it goes,” she says, noting that expanding the blog to Facebook and Twitter is enabling her to become more proficient at those tools.

To launch her project, Guimond set up a table at ArtsPark last month and offered visitors the opportunity to share what their gratitude. “People could either write down something they were generally grateful for or choose from a specific question,” says Guimond who was delighted with how receptive folks were when she took the project “out of cyberspace and into the community.”

“One of the most moving moments was when a woman answered the question, ‘Which person who you haven’t met are you most grateful for?’ by saying, ‘My daughter’s birth mother.’”

Guimond framed the question differently for kids, asking them, “What are you happy about?” One of the sweetest responses from the under ten set was, “I’m happy that my mom loves me…how do you spell mom?”

ArtsPark presented Guimond with a chance to see The Gratitude Project through the eyes of the community. “One person asked me if I’d like to come and give a workshop at her school, other people thought I should make a gratitude wall downtown during rush hour. It was great to see people getting involved in the project,” says Guimond who hopes people will be inspired to include their own gratitude wall at gatherings like weddings, street parties, funerals and graduations.

During the lead up to her big train journey, VIA Rail’s labour disruptions have offered Guimond an opportunity to really look at her situation through what she calls “the lens of gratitude.” When she wasn’t sure if she’d have to cancel her trip, fly to Vancouver, or figure something else out, thinking about gratitude allowed Guimond to appreciate keeping up to date with VIA through social media and to appreciate that labour talks were continuing.

When she returns from her train journey, Guimond will look into a fundraiser to leverage The Gratitude Project to give back to Parkdale Food Centre and to High-Jinx, an organization that works with people who are homeless.

Geordie McConnell: Big shoes to fill

Photos by Justin Van Leeuwen.

Running 21.1 kilometres in a twenty pound shoe roughly the size of a smart car is, believe it or not, a dream come true for Wellington West’s Geordie McConnell.

The triathlon coach and marathon runner spent years living in London, England and always admired the costumed runners that are a big part of the tradition of the London marathon. “I wanted to help introduce that tradition of raising awareness for a cause to Ottawa,” says McConnell. And twenty years later, he has done just that.

“Whenever we’d watch a parade, or see a mascot in a fuzzy costume, my wife would give me a funny look because she knew I was trying to figure out if that was a costume you could run in or not,” laughs McConnell who successfully completed the Ottawa Marathon in 2012 in his Sole Man shoe.

The giant shoe is intended to raise awareness for Sole Responsibility, an organization that collects gently used shoes and donates them to those in need around the world through the guidance of the United Nations High Commission of Refugees. McConnell sits on the board of Sole Responsibility and raises money for the non-profit through the Ottawa Running Club.

When he’s not running in it, the shoe lives in McConnell’s mom’s garage. “The two students in the Carleton Industrial Design program, Kim Thompson and Kevin Spencer, who constructed the shoe for me last year, did an incredible job of making the shoe lightweight and durable,” says McConnell. A backpack frame keeps the shoe balanced on McConnell’s shoulders. And trays inside the shoe’s frame offer spots for a map, gels and other snacks to help him keep his energy up during the run. But after last year’s inaugural marathon, McConnell realised he hadn’t asked for a deconstruction plan and the shoe was too large to fit through the doorway of his Wellington West home.

After carefully rehabilitating a torn meniscus he sustained this winter through a moderate amount of slow running and lots of time on the bike and in the water, McConnell is running the half marathon on May 26 during Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. He expects to cruise down Wellington West between 10:00 and 10:30 am. He’ll have a runner escorting him throughout the race, passing him water and nutrition as he needs it and being there in case there’s anything he needs.

“One of the thrills of last year’s run was sharing the excitement with each of the runners who escorted me 10K on the marathon route,” says McConnell who saved the final 2K for his cobblers, Kevin Spencer and Kim Thompson.

“I’m hoping to see more runners in costume this year,” he says. “It’s fun to run in a costume and I like the athletic challenge.”

Five things you should know about: The funkalicious Uncle Bob Cabana

Born and bred in Hintonburg, Uncle Bob Cabana who owns Fab Gear 64 on Wellington Street West is a neighbourhood icon. With the shop closed on Mondays, he arranged to meet us at 11:00 for a chat and a photo shoot. When we arrived, band rehearsal was in full swing in the clothing shop. “Come on in,” Uncle Bob welcomed us as soon as the set was over. “These boys are The Fenton Brothers and we were just getting ready for our performance at Blues Fest on July 7.”

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Uncle Bob Cabana in his famous red chair. “A lot of times you see men waiting outside a fitting room for their wives or girlfriends. At Fab Gear 64 it’s the women who are waiting,” says Uncle Bob. Photo by Ted Simpson

While the band took a break, Uncle Bob indulged us by taking up residence in his famous red chair while we peppered him with questions and took photos of the dapper gentleman in his boater jacket responsible for better dressed men on several continents as well as across Kitchissippi.

1. Uncle Bob grew up on O’Meara Street.
“I was born at the Grace Hospital, went to school at St. François, was baptised at the big silver church and plan to be escorted out of the neighbourhood feet first from that same church.” Uncle Bob lives on Fairmont Avenue.

2. Uncle Bob’s personal mission is to “funkify the City of Ottawa.”
“I never forget a shirt I’ve sold. Sometimes I’m in an airport and I’ll see someone with one of my shirts from years ago. I’ve been a stylist for most of the bands in Ottawa. Sooner or later guys learn that torn old jeans and t-shirts will only take them so far.” Every year Uncle Bob attends a clothing show in Vegas where he picks up classy clothes for classy guys.

A few weeks ago some visitors from Calgary stopped by Fab Gear 64 because they’d read on Trip Advisor.ca (the popular user-generated travel guide site) that this was a top destination in Ottawa.

3. Uncle Bob is not running for Mayor.
He was, however, recently elected as the new marketing chair for the Wellington West BIA, an organization he’s been involved with for the past three years. In his new position, Uncle Bob, fittingly, plans to “add a little pizazz” to the WWBIA, to market the area to the rest of Ottawa.

4. Uncle Bob’s grandma used to sew his clothes.
“When I was 17 my grandma made my clothes. I looked the best out of all my friends and that certainly helped in the dating scene.” Now Uncle Bob carries clothing from the 60s, including the Beatle suits.

His stock is eclectic, unique and 90% men’s wear. Often women are waiting in the famous red chair while men select just the right shirt.

5. Uncle Bob and The Fenton Brothers are, indeed, playing Blues Fest.
On July 7 at 2:45 p.m., the River Stage will be rocking with slide-driven rock and roll. Most of the band’s material is original. But the mystery remains. What will Uncle Bob wear on stage?

Marika Jemma: Enriched Bread in The Hague and in the 'hood

Marika Jemma. Photo by Ted Simpson
Found art, sculptural elements and the intriguing environment inspires Enriched Bread artist Marika Jemma who is participating in an artist exchange. Photo by Ted Simpson

Story and photos by Ted Simpson

On June 1 the Enriched Bread Artists of Gladstone Avenue opened their doors not only to the Ottawa public, but also to a group of artists from halfway around the world.

The EBA are presenting a special exhibit put together by artists who are on an exchange program from The Hague, Neatherlands.

The EBA studio is located in an industrial building just west of the O-Train tracks that originally served as a bread factory in the early part of the 20th century. The building transitioned into a printing house, clothing manufacturer, squat house and was eventually purchased in a state of total disrepair in 1992 by a group of ambitious young artists.

Through a magical act of synchronicity, in that very same year, in the city of The Hague, in the Netherlands, an old bread factory in shambles was also discovered and occupied by a group of ambitious young artists.

The two studios grew for over a decade oblivious of one another until 2009, when artist Petra Halkes of Hintonburg discovered the Dutch factory studio on one of her frequent trips to her home town of The Hague. After the two studios became aware of each other and their shared history, talk of an exchange program began. That plan is being realized this summer.

Beginning May 31, a group of artists from the Dutch studio, Quartair, began exhibiting their art at the EBA studio. The exhibit will run until June 10 and included special extended showings for the Doors Open Ottawa weekend, June 1-2.

“The theme is Dutch Settlement. They’ve done different takes on the word, so it could be anything. There is a video about dust settling,” says Halkes, of the work the Dutch artists plan to bring with them. The Dutch art includes painting, sculpture, installation and performance art. Though there is only so much that can be planned out from halfway across the world, “A lot of it is going to be a surprise for us… they’ve never seen this space,” says Halkes.

The second stage of the exchange will take place in August when 14 Enriched Bread Artists will make the trip to The Hague to present their work at Quartair. One of the artists participating in the exchange is Marika Jemma, a 15 year resident of Hintonburg and member of the EBA since 1998.

Photo by Ted Simpson
Marika Jemma’s art is mostly in the realm of sculpture and installation, but she’s work in “whatever medium best suits the idea.” Photo by Ted Simpson

Jemma’s art is mostly in the realm of sculpture and installation, but as she says, will work in “whatever medium best suits the idea.” The theme of the Dutch show is “interference;” the local artists will be covering the Dutch studio in Tyvek – a sort of felt paper in long rolls, and interacting with that as a way to interfere with the space.

“Some of the artists are bringing work… I’m not,” says Jemma. “I’m going there to do work with people in the community on a collaborative kind of piece, so I can’t describe what I’m going to do till I get there.”

One of the collaborative projects involves having children from the community here in Ottawa participate in a photography project that will be combined with photos from children in the Dutch community. Another project is what Jemma calls a “sound map” that associates locations with the sounds that surround them like the rumble of the O-Train, or the church bells at Fairmont and Wellington.

Dutch Settlement is open to the public daily from June 1 to 10 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Enriched Bread Artist Studio, 951 Gladstone Ave.

Chris Henderson: Supporting green power for Canada's future

Chris Henderson is taking Aboriginal Power on the road. Photo by Ted Simpson
Chris Henderson is taking Aboriginal Power on the road. Photo by Ted Simpson

Story and photo by Ted Simpson

Aboriginal Power is a new book by environmental business leader Chris Henderson of Wellington West. The book tells stories of how First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities are using green energy to help power Canada’s future.

Henderson lays out his vision in a series of 30 stories that profile over 80 Aboriginal communities across the country. The stories tell of an evolving relationship between the government and Aboriginal people.

“The story of Canada’s relationship with its first peoples isn’t a particularly positive one,” says Henderson. “The last 250 years have been littered with broken promises.”

“How do we write a better story for the future?” is the question Henderson is answering in Aboriginal Power. Henderson says that better future will come with the production cleaner energy sources, like hydro, wind and biomass. The places these energy sources are coming from now are Aboriginal communities. To achieve a future we can all share in requires a reduced reliance on fossil fuels and a shift to clean, green, renewable energy – this is the heart of Henderson’s message.

Aboriginal communities, with remote locations based in nature, are creating a foundation for natural energy. “It allows them to have a source of wealth, a source of employment they wouldn’t have otherwise,” says Henderson. “The book is really about turning the page, writing a different story.”

Henderson started his business to protect the environment 25 years ago, when he launched the Delphi Group, a company that provides environmentally friendly business solutions and advises governments on environmental strategies.

It was 10 years ago that Henderson shifted his focus to Aboriginal people in Canada and became a clean energy advisor to over a dozen Aboriginal communities. He has been working hard ever since to develop the potential of Aboriginal power.

“My projection is that it will take about 20 years for the full potential of these projects to flower,” says Henderson. “But that’s not a long time. I hope to be around doing those things for that 20 years.”

To launch Aboriginal Power, Henderson is embarking on a coast to coast tour, spreading his message to nearly every major city in the country.

June 6 will be a special event for Henderson’s home community with a reading and book signing taking place at Kitchissippi United Church, 630 Island Park,  from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. “Being active in…and around Kitchissippi, I thought it would be interesting to do a community launch as well,” says Henderson.

 

Tudor Robins: Galloping into youth fiction with Objects in Mirror launch

Tudor Robins. Photo by Denise Deby
Tudor Robins says riding and taking care of horses, which feature in her new novel, “are like a second language to me.” The painting Jumping for Joy 1 by Wolfe Island artist Kim Woodman has a prominent spot in her living room. Photo by Denise Deby

Tudor Robins is riding high with the publication of her first young adult novel. In the fast-paced Objects in Mirror (Red Deer Press, 2013), a young equestrian nurses malnourished horses back to health while confronting her own anorexia. Kitchissippi Times contributor Denise Deby asked Robins more at her McKellar Park home.

Kitchissippi Times: Tell us about the book.
Tudor Robins: It’s about a horse rider whose summer doesn’t go quite the way she expects. She has to overcome a lot of challenges, including an eating disorder, and decide what’s most important to her in her life. …It’s a coming of age story. There’s definitely a bit of romance. And it’s set just outside Ottawa.

KT: You’ve worked as a freelance writer. What prompted you to write fiction?
TR: I’ve always wanted to write a novel. After journalism school, magazine and newspaper writing was the obvious route…. The turning point was probably when I had my kids (Evan, 11 and Bryn, 9) and focused on my freelance. It was good, but I realized what I really want is to write fiction. I hadn’t ever thought it would be young adult—I’d actually started an adult novel—but I saw a young adult novel contest called “So You Think You Can Write?” and finished this book. I looked into getting it published, and did what I call my “year of the contest”—I entered writing contests, and had really good results.

KT: How much does the book draw on your own life?
TR: I’ve grown up riding since I was eight, so that was a natural setting for me to choose. I did experience an eating disorder, so again that wasn’t really a stretch for me. …It’s like you start with certain things you know to be true, and then you link them together by putting in things that are fun and made up, and you get to leave out the boring bits. It is 100 per cent fiction, but I used my experiences to know how someone might feel in certain situations.

KT: What other things make up your day?
TR: I write resumes for a career company, which I enjoy because I feel like I’m helping people. I do writing workshops for adults and in schools…. I run the pizza program at Broadview School where I volunteer. And I keep a writing blog … I’ve written a couple of other young adult manuscripts, and I’ve never really been able to put down my first project, the adult novel, so when I have free time that’s what I’m working on. Then there’s promoting this book, including the June 6 launch at Red Chair Kids from 7pm-9pm (1318 Wellington Street West) a lot of people are really helpful, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the support of the community. And I’m really looking forward to interacting with readers.

Wayne Current and Stirling Lynch: Way beyond the fourth wall

Wayne Current and Stirling Lynce. Photo by Ted Simpson
Director Wayne Current (left) and playwright Stirling Lynch launched their long history of theatrical collaboration while attending Connaught Public School together. Photo by Ted Simpson

Story and photos by Ted Simpson

Wayne Current and Sterling Lynch have been working together on theatrical projects as far back as their days at Connaught Public School on Gladstone Avenue. “The first play I was ever involved in was at Connaught,” says Lynch. Current has maintained a lifelong residency in Hintonburg, putting him among the ranks of those who lived here before it was cool.

Now, the theatrical duo have brought a new writing concept to their latest production that is a first for Ottawa.

Lynch, 38, the playwright, used a Google Doc to write the script for Never Fall in Love with a Writer and used Google’s public sharing features to allow anyone online to view the document as he worked.

“While I actually wrote the play from start to finish we invited people to come and watch. As far as we know it’s a first for Ottawa,” says Lynch.

The Google application allowed Lynch to crowd source ideas, comments and edits in real time.

“I would get up before work and say, ‘Hey, I’m writing this play if you wanna watch’,” says Lynch.

Lynch received feedback from a number of local enthusiasts, including one idea that became a plot point, “The fact that the main character still has a memento from an old lover was also inspired by a comment from one of the readers of the work in progress,” he says.

Most writers – myself included – would cringe at the thought of an unedited work being available to the public eye, but not Lynch who thrives on the creative feedback. “It’s a benefit to get feedback from people, not a fear,” he says

The finished play is a dramatic story of a granddaughter who learns of one of her grandmother’s past lovers.

Never Fall in Love with a Writer stars Jennifer Capogreco, 26, as the solitary actor in a one woman show. Capogreco has the challenge of playing four different characters – two women and two men – in the show.

Current, 39, the Director, has been working on ways to make sure each character is unique and distinguishable for the audience.

“Throughout the next few rehearsals we are going to be working on three main things,” said Current. “The first is pacing and pitch, each character is going to have distinct voice with a speed to it and an octave to it. The next thing we are working on is movement, and the third is motivations and intentions, so we are going to understand how these characters are thinking.”

A collaboration that began in public school and includes the general public via Google Docs. Photo by Ted Simpson
A collaboration that began in public school and includes the general public via Google Docs. Photo by Ted Simpson

The creative process continues to be documented in a series of Youtube videos and blog posts, “So far the feedback has been positive, I think this is going to bring in a lot of people who aren’t theatre people, you can read the script before you see the play, you can watch the videos, you can see if you like the play,” says Current.

The play will be premiering at this year’s Fringe Festival in Ottawa (June 20-30, ottawafringe.com) and the pair are hoping that the unique approach to creation will help with promotion, “With Fringe there are so many shows, so you need to find a way to stand out and this is one of the ways that we are standing out – engaging audiences months before the play comes out,” says Current.

Beyond the local premier, there is a great opportunity to branch out with the performance, given the versatility of having only one performer, “The advantage of that is [the play] becomes very tourable. If the show does well we are looking at touring it in another year,” says Current.

MORE: Check out the song, “Don’t fall in love with a writer” written just for the show by Shannon Rose, of Shannon Rose and The Thorns.