Celebrate Aboriginal Day, the Solstice and Nature in Ottawa

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

Aboriginal Day

There’s much to be learned from aboriginal peoples’ relationship to the land and nature. Aboriginal Day was established to encourage people to find out more about aboriginal cultures, and several Ottawa events offer the opportunity to do just that. On Wednesday, June 20, 2012 from 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m., the Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Aboriginal Experiences and Dovercourt Recreation Centre are holding an Aboriginal Day celebration in the park at 411 Dovercourt Avenue, with food, face painting, games, live music, drumming and dancing, art and a likely visit from the Governor General of Canada. Then the National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) and several other aboriginal organizations are holding the Summer Solstice Aboriginal Arts Festival and International Competition Pow Wow from June 21-24, 2012 at Vincent Massey Park. There’ll be tons of activities for all ages, from a planetarium and a giant polar bear to historic displays, art exhibits and workshops, an extensive line-up of performers and more. The Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival also takes place from June 18-24, 2012—it’s a brand new festival designed to showcase the work of local, national and international artists and promote understanding of indigenous cultures and issues.

Local Museum Events

It’s worth keeping an eye on events at Ottawa’s local museums and historic sites; many offer opportunities to explore nature. For example, you can join a Solstice Paddle on the Ottawa River at Pinhey’s Point on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 from 6:30-9 p.m. An interpreter will talk about the area’s history and geology. (You do have to provide your own canoe or kayak, paddles and life jackets.). Alternatively, you can find out about “Marvelous Mini-beasts”—i.e. beetles, June bugs and fireflies—at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum on Wednesday, June 20 or 27 from 7-9 p.m., or join them for Stars Alive! on Wednesday, June 20 at dusk for an evening of star gazing. Check the museums’ websites for details and costs (click on the museum’s name and then “Events and Programs”).


Bike to Work Month in Ottawa

by guest blogger Mike Buckthought

photo copyright the envirocentre

May is Bike to Work Month in Ottawa, and EnviroCentre is collaborating with workplaces across the region to encourage people to cycle to work. EnviroCentre is offering an updated information kit, four kinds of workshops, cycling safety videos, and a chance to win great prizes, simply by pledging to bike.

Last year, 861 people pledged to cycle to work, covering a total distance of 759,040 km. Participants reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 191 tonnes by biking instead of using motorized modes of transport, like cars and SUVs.  The 2012 edition of Bike to Work Month promises to encourage even more people.

Among many new website features, individuals and workplaces can now log daily trips and track new statistics like money saved.  A community events calendar available year round, welcomes itself as a social hub for postings from anyone in the cycling community.

EnviroCentre is also encouraging people to develop their confidence with cycling skills. The organization has teamed up with City Wide Sports to offer 60-minute workshops geared for a range of skill levels. Training will be offered at workplaces for a modest fee. Options include lunch time presentations on commuter cycling or bike maintenance, as well as hands-on cycling workshops with practice sessions in parking lots and on city roads.
EnviroCentre is actively collaborating with 65 workplaces representing over 50,000 employees. Posters, slideshows, videos and email campaigns will reach a broad audience — encouraging many people to try commuting by bicycle.  For a sample, visit www.biketoworkottawa.com/intersections which features several videos on cycling safety, produced by EnviroCentre.

The videos demonstrate essential habits and skills for navigating intersections, as well as how to interact with the City of Ottawa’s upcoming new road symbols, designed to help drivers and cyclists share the road.

Cycling to work provides many health and environmental benefits. It also increases the productivity of employees, and reduces rates of sickness-related absences. It is a key way to reduce our community’s emissions of global-warming greenhouse gases.
If you live in Kanata, Barrhaven, or Orleans, EnviroCentre brings an inclusive message by offering free presentations open to the public.  “Many Ottawa residents live and work outside the Greenbelt, so we’re trying to reach people in their neighbourhoods and help them become commuter cyclists”, says Jessica Wells, EnviroCentre’s Programs Coordinator for Sustainable Transportation. “Cycling is a convenient, fun, healthy, and cost-effective way to travel. Small steps can have a significant impact to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions, road congestion, plus noise and air pollution. Our goal is to give people an incentive to give cycling a try, and to reward those who already do.”

To participate in Bike to Work Month, visit http://www.biketoworkottawa.com. When you pledge to bike during May, you’ll be eligible to win great prizes.

EnviroCentre is a non-profit organization that works to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa and Eastern Ontario by delivering energy-efficiency programs and services. Since 2010, Bike to Work Month has been coordinated by EnviroCentre, in collaboration with the City of Ottawa and sponsors.


3i Summit on Sustainability May 4 and 5 2012: Collaborating for Action in Ottawa

by guest blogger  Laura Leet, 3i Summit Project Coordinator

For the first time in Ottawa, leaders and change agents from many different sectors are coming together to collaborate and take action toward realizing Ottawa’s potential to be an environmentally sustainable city.
The “3i Summit on Sustainability: Collaborating for Action” will be held on May 4 & 5 at Dow’s Lake Pavilion. Local leaders and change agents who want to advance sustainability in Ottawa are encouraged to take part.
A goal of the Summit is to expand and tap into the pool of leaders and mentors from different sectors that can support new community greening projects and eco-business ventures. Catalyst leaders such as Moe Garahan, Executive Director of Ottawa’s Just Food, Stephen Guilbeault, Founder of Québec’s Equiterre and Tom Heintzman, Co-founder of  Bullfrog Power will provide inspiration. A cultural celebration of the community’s accomplishments will take place during the Friday evening Sustainability Soirée.
Register on-line now at www.3isummit.com.  Two-day registration is only $75 and includes two lunches and the Sustainability Soirée.   Passes for the Soirée only may be purchased for $25. For more information visit 3isummit.com or contact Laura Leet projectcoordinator@3isummit.com, 613-656-7800.

Reel Food Film Festival Ottawa 2012

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

The Reel Food Film Festival is coming up again on March 22 and 29, 2012. Brought to you by USC Canada, Just Food, One World Arts and the Ottawa Good Food Box, the two films being featured promise an inspirational look at sustainable food and farming with a difference.

On Thursday, March 22, the Festival is screening To Make a Farm (2011, Canada), by Steve Suderman, about five young people who set out to become small-scale farmers. It’s “an intimate and practical exploration of farming and local food,” according to the film’s website.

Thursday, March 29 brings Land Awakening (2011, Canada), by Raúl Álvarez, who will attend the screening and answer questions afterwards. The film looks at farmers who have moved away from chemical agriculture to sustainable farming, and at humans’ relationship with food, nature and the land.

The Festival takes place at the Ottawa Public Library Main Branch, 120 Metcalfe St.; doors open 6:00 p.m., screenings 6:30 p.m. Free admission ($5 donation appreciated). The aim of the Festival, which takes place twice a year, is to generate awareness and discussion about food issues.

Jane Goodall in Ottawa March 21, 2012

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and
environmental issues.

Fans of environmentalist and primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall will be pleased to hear
that she’ll be in Ottawa on March 21 for a screening of Jane’s Journey, a film about her
work internationally, followed by a question-and-answer session and book signing. The
visit is part of a tour presented by the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada and the Canadian
Federation of Humane Societies. See http://www.janegoodall.ca/news-lectures.php
for more information. (For some inspiration, watch the 90-second film trailer at http://

Tree-planting Ceremony for Wangari Mathaai

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

In Minto Park, at the corner of Elgin and Gilmour Streets downtown, there’s a new sugar maple tree. It was planted this week to honour environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Muta Mathaai, who passed away on September 25, 2011.

Wangari Mathaai never lived in Ottawa, but her life’s work has influence and relevance here—and throughout the world. Dr. Mathaai was a Kenyan environmentalist, scientist, human and women’s rights advocate, political activist and parliamentarian.

Wangari Mathaai founded the Green Belt Movement in 1977 as a grassroots community-based tree-planting program to address environmental degradation and empower women; it’s become a global movement working for human rights, democracy, peace and climate justice as well. Her work was challenging, at times dangerous, but she persevered. “It is the people who must save the environment. It is the people who must make their leaders change,” she said, “So we must stand up for what we believe in.” Professor Mathaai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and has received dozens of other awards and recognitions.

To celebrate Wangari Mathaai’s life and achievements, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an organization based in Ottawa that Dr. Mathaai herself helped found in 2004, along with Ecology Ottawa, hosted the tree-planting ceremony on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at Minto Park, with the High Commissioner of Kenya, Simon Nabukwesi, the Ambassador of Norway, Else Eikeland, and Mayor Jim Watson attending.

For Wangari Mathaai, sustainability, human rights, peace and justice were interconnected. “She did not put women’s rights, democracy and the environment into separate boxes,” said Liz Bernstein, Executive Director of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, at the ceremony.

Mathaai also believed that every person could take action. Ecology Ottawa’s Trevor Haché summed it up this way: “May this tree that we will plant today in the ceremony serve as inspiration and an important reminder to all Ottawa citizens that we have the power to effect change and we will always encourage our elected officials to do more to protect the planet.”


Trailer “I will be a hummingbird”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGMW6YWjMxw&feature=player_embedded#! or



Trailer for Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Mathaai http://greenbeltmovement.org/w.php?id=82


Apartment613’s Support Local Month in Ottawa

Written by guest blogger Denise Deby, who writes on local and global social and environmental issues.

The people at Apartment613 have lots of good ideas, but this time they’ve outdone themselves. They’re making November “Support Local” month in Ottawa. And they’re talking not just local food but also local musicians, artists, restaurants and businesses.

They’ve set up a series of events throughout the month—a list too long to replicate here but do check out their website. Some examples:

You can also let Apartment613 know if you have ideas for other events (email editors [at] apt613 [dot] ca with “Support Local” in the subject line).