Community·CreativeMornings

What makes Ottawa a creative city?

This month, CreativeMornings Ottawa is hosting ‘lightning talks’ with five speakers, rather than just one. So, we thought we’d ask each of the speakers: What makes Ottawa a creative city?

CreativeMornings Ottawa hosts free, monthly events for the creative community

CBC Ottawa is proud to partner with CreativeMornings Ottawa

If you're an early riser and a creative thinker in the Ottawa area, you might've heard of the CreativeMornings breakfast series. 

With chapters in more than 200 cities around the world—from Oslo to Ottawa—CreativeMornings hosts free, monthly events for the creative community, featuring a short talk and a bite to eat. Each month's talk has a global theme, such as: courage, honesty or tradition. April's theme was 'inclusive.' 

Ottawa has been hosting gatherings since 2012, welcoming speakers from such varied occupations as psychologists, architects, artisanal sign painters and brew masters. CBC Ottawa is proud to partner with CreativeMornings Ottawa to share creative Q&As each month and conversations with the community.

This month they hosted 'lightning talks' at the Ottawa Art Gallery with five speakers, rather than just one. So, we thought we'd ask each of them:  What makes Ottawa a creative city? 

Their answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

Elspeth McKay 
Executive Director of Operation Come Home
(Supplied by CreativeMornings Ottawa)

"Ottawa is a creative city because of the people that live here. It is the people in the community that disrupt and drive creativity by expression. Expression is often based on a social justice/injustice that has arisen and artists want to make a statement in regards to that issue.' Creativity to me is found in social entrepreneurship, homelessness, those with disabilities and people that have found their talents in music, art, poetry, writing and those that are resilient in some way. Ottawa has consistently supported arts, culture and creativity in our new art gallery, parks, artistic installations, small business and through community economic development activities such as social enterprise development."

(Supplied by CreativeMornings Ottawa)

Sharon Nyangweso
Digital Communications and Inclusion Consultant 

"Almost 30 per cent of Ottawa residents are foreign-born and/or visible minorities. This means Ottawa gets to enjoy global ideas of creativity and self-expression mixed in with generations of Algonquin ingenuity. That's what makes us creative!"

Toon Dreessen
President of Architects DCA

(Supplied by CreativeMornings Ottawa)

 "The people: we are a great place, and our place is animated by the people who live here, voice their ideas, work together to realize the potential of our great city. The people speak up for change, and advocate for better design, planning, and evidence based decision making; the people have ideas for a city that is equitable, safe, beautiful and uplifts the human spirt; this realizes our ability to achieve the prosperity inherent in our unique siting at the confluence of rivers, on traditional Indigenous land, where we must learn from our past, and set ambitious goals for reconciliation, sustainability, respect for each other and the planet."

(Sara Algubaa )

Clary Chambers 
Founder of Spark Clarity

"What first comes to mind as a catalyst for creativity in Ottawa is the weather. I moved here from the GTA in 2011 and all my winter gear was obsolete. There is so much time of the year that it's not possible to host events, or gatherings outside in this city. This in itself makes folks living in Ottawa creative in the delivery of their events and celebrations. In Ottawa especially we need to be creative in the way we show up together, in the way we work and in the ways we find play. Ottawa is a creative city in that there is always something to do, even in the middle of a snow storm, or during a day of extreme heat. There is a desire to connect and share one's stories and passions here in Ottawa, and we always make it happen. We creatively find ways to gather no matter the weather!"

(Supplied by CreativeMornings Ottawa)

Amy Lynch 
Founder of Babies, Business + Breakfast

"I believe Ottawa's weather with four distinct seasons and pockets of nature in urban settings, encourage you to go outdoors, spend time exploring and connecting with others, which in turn leads to new experiences and inspiration."


The next CreativeMornings Ottawa will take place on Friday, May 31 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Keep checking creativemornings.com/cities/ott for details.