Mark O’Neill helps to reflect Canada back to Canadians. As President and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History and Canadian War Museum, Mark helps us to explore our past, showcase our present, and anticipate where the future may lead.
Before Mark was enriching people’s minds, he was instrumental in helping them maintain their health. He played a major role in ensuring that the people of Ottawa had access to emergency services at the touch of a button through the implementation of the 911 phone number, as well as to advanced paramedic services and the teaching of CPR in area schools. For his commitment to a healthier Ottawa which knows its history, Mark O’Neill is one of #150GreatPeople. Here, he answers the questionnaire:
What makes Ottawa special to you?
What makes Ottawa special is that it has always been a meeting place, a place of ceremony, beginning with the Anishinaabe who gathered at the Chaudière Falls, to legislators and others who gather at Parliament. Ottawa reflects the growth and diversity of the country, reflecting this back to Canadians and visitors, through the Parliamentary Precinct, the national museums, natural areas and built heritage.
What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?
Its urban greenspaces, walkable neighbourhoods, shorelines, pathways and parkways make Ottawa a dynamic and liveable capital, a small city rich with urban and rural life.
The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?
Our museums work to encapsulate the changes our country has gone through, and to present the Canadian story through multiple perspectives. This is important because history is constantly unfolding; it never stops and we are all a part of it. A truly National Capital must embody a nation’s traditions and values, reflect upon its successes and failures, and engage its citizens and visitors in the on-going work of building an inclusive society.
You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?
I was a leader in community service and public advocacy leading to the implementation of the 911 universal emergency phone number, the advanced-care paramedic system and the adoption of mandatory CPR training in local schools. 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of 911 service in Ottawa and the National Capital Region. Before that date, residents had to navigate a total of 27 emergency numbers.
What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?
The Capital must continue to reflect the country back to Canadians, to protect and enhance its natural and cultural heritage, and innovate in urban design. It must adapt to a more diverse population, and become more globally competitive and sustainable. As a national symbol, Ottawa must continue to inspire, engage and commemorate, expressing the country’s social and cultural diversity.