Jim & Shana Perkins

 

Our 14th Anniversary!

Jim & Shana Perkins make Ottawa a better, more inclusive place every single day. As the founders of the Capital City Condors, they offer over one hundred Ottawa area kids with developmental disabilities the opportunity to play hockey in a safe, supportive environment tailored to their needs.

Jim and Shana started the Capital City Condors from scratch, and have steadily grown it over the past ten years, providing a sense of joy and belonging not just to the children who might never otherwise have had the opportunity to be part of a team, but to their proud families as well. Jim and Shana are not just kind and generous human beings, they are the type of people who form the building blocks of a great community, and for that they are truly two of #150GreatPeople in Ottawa. Here, they answer the questionnaire:

What makes Ottawa special to you?

Ottawa is a place of new beginnings for us. We were married here, started our family here, and have called it home for over 20 years now. But the thing that always makes a place most special is the people! We’ve been blessed to meet the most incredible people here in Ottawa, people who have become like family to us, and have literally shaped and deepened our lives.

What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?

Again, we’d have to say it comes down to people and relationships. We love the little street we live on, and are thankful for great and friendly neighbours. We love living in Canada’s Capital City, a place that has much to offer, but isn’t so huge that you lose the closeness of tight-knit community. We love that many here have tremendously generous natures, and really do care about making this an even better place to live. The opportunities to meet with heart and soul genuine people, to consider all that we have to be grateful for, and then to see that gratitude turned into generosity, we love those moments.

The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?

We’re beyond thankful that so many families in the Special Needs Community have welcomed us into their incredible lives, and enabled us to learn and grow with them, sharing in their triumphs and struggles. They’ve blessed us with their amazing kids! We can’t begin to describe the perspective they have each brought to our lives and to our own family. We get to work each day with perhaps the greatest group of heroes in this city, people who brighten up every day, and bring out something good in all the rest of us. We love seeing these kids who face significant challenges, be over-comers, defying the odds, and experiencing things they were told would never be a part of their lives. We love seeing the smiles on their faces, not to mention the smiles they bring to all the rest of us!

You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?

Wow, that’s a hard one. We were thrilled to host the Special Hockey International Tournament here in Ottawa in 2015, which saw over 1600 special athletes from across Canada, from New Jersey to California, and even from London, England, spend 5 fun-filled days together playing hockey and making new friends. That was amazing for sure. But maybe more meaningful are those moments we get to share with a player as he or she sees their first hockey jersey with their name on the back, and their favourite number, and then to hear how proud they were to wear it to school on jersey day, just like all the other kids. Maybe it’s that moment standing beside a Mom who chokes up a bit as she watches her child out on the ice, and says, “I never thought I’d get to be a hockey Mom.” Maybe it’s those moments when a young person on the ice moves their legs and begins to propel themselves forward, something the doctors said they’d never do. Or maybe it’s the hug you get from a player who just a few months earlier couldn’t make eye contact with you, but now wraps you up in a squeeze. Maybe it’s seeing student volunteers giving their time every week, smiling as they leave the rink, talking about how these kids are changing their lives. Maybe it’s seeing an NHL player and his young family embrace these amazing kids and their families, and thank them for shaping his life. Or maybe it’s the size of the smiles, or the frequent “I love you’s”. These don’t really have anything to do with us accomplishing anything, it’s about being blessed enough, to be close enough to those we’re really most proud of.

What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?

We hope and believe that Ottawa will continue to be a city that prioritizes the well-being of those with special needs. The support we have witnessed here has been remarkable, and has become a benchmark we proudly reference when speaking with those in other cities who are considering starting up programs similar to the Condors. We deeply appreciate the support from the city, and how they understand that what happens in a special community like this is so much #biggerthanhockey – it’s about people’s lives being encouraged and enriched.
Ottawa is a great city – a fun city – and a fantastic place to call home!

Hollis Peirce

Hollis Peirce has always been especially dedicated to issues of equality and accessibility. Diagnosed with congenital muscular dystrophy at the age of six months, Hollis – currently in graduate school at Carleton – has had to face more obstacles than most, but he’s done so with energy and enthusiasm, resolving to make his community a better, more inclusive place than he found it.

One of the ways Hollis has done this is by founding the Ottawa Power Wheelchair Hockey League to give individuals in power wheelchairs an opportunity to play a recreational sport and to be part of a team. The League has benefited many Ottawa residents, and helps to break down barriers for people living with a disability in our region. For this, Hollis Peirce is one of #150GreatPeople in Ottawa, and here he answers the questionnaire:

What makes Ottawa special to you?

Ottawa is so special to me because of the way in which you cannot escape its history. Whether it is the endless number of museums or just driving down the street, you can’t help but be witness to the wonders of our past.

What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?

What I love most about Ottawa are its people. Having the opportunity to live in the capital city of Canada brings with it the opportunity to be immersed in many different cultures. From people who have come to call Ottawa home to those who are just visiting, they bring their cultures with them. Being able to get a taste of these cultures is such an amazing thing.

The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?

The work that I do is important to me because I am passionate about accessibility and giving everyone the opportunity to experience the same things. It is so important to me because as a disabled individual I am at a higher risk of being victim to inequality myself.

You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?

I am most proud of my work with the Ottawa Power Wheelchair Hockey League. When I moved to Ottawa in 1999 as an eleven year old, I had just completed my first and only year in Calgary’s league. When I discovered there was no league in Ottawa, I put myself to work. As a teen I had a little success but for the odd game being organized at school. However, when I entered university and gathered a larger group of friends who were also interested, we were able to establish teams and would eventually go on to compete in tournaments.

What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?

My biggest hope for Ottawa is that more attention be paid to making things more accessible. Because of its history, many buildings were built before there was much concern for accessibility. To solve this issue only a few small changes need to be made, for example placing a small ramp over a one-step entrance. Simple solutions like this would make Ottawa a much more welcoming and fun place for everyone.

Jamaal Jackson Rogers

Jamaal Jackson Rogers is a poetic force in Ottawa. Recently named Ottawa’s English Language Poet Laureate, he has gained respect and received awards for his spoken word poetry. Jamaal’s performances are unique and entertaining, helping to inspire a new generation of poets both here at home and abroad, artists whom Jamaal is only to pleased to coach and mentor as they find their voice.

Jamaal is changing the way people think about poetry, teaching them to create differently, and giving them new options as they express their thoughts and emotions through art.  For these reasons, Jamaal is one of #150GreatPeople in Ottawa. Here, he answers the questionnaire:

What makes Ottawa special to you?

Ottawa’s uniqueness is rooted in a few aspects, the first of which comes to mind is its host of diverse communities. From Kanata to Orleans, Barrhaven to Sandy Hill, you can find many thriving communities that reflect the progressive growth and inclusiveness of the nation’s capital. Another aspect that makes Ottawa special to me is the geography. While we are close to major metropolis cities such as Toronto or Montreal, our expansive green space is less than an hour away from any point within the city, while rural living is not far from the suburbs or the downtown core. In essence, you can have the full experience of urban living, without the discomforts of densely populated, major city commotion.

What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?

The pace. From living here the last 26 years, I have noticed that Ottawa is not a fast paced city. Our residents live and commute at a pace that feels laid back and not rushed. To me it seems this is part of our nature here in Ottawa, easy-going and affable. For many who visit from larger urban cities, it may appear that Ottawa has a ton of catching up to do for being the capital, but the growth of this city is moving at a rate that most residents are content with. Ottawa has a healthy small business industry, a competitive real estate market, and health and education systems that can be compared to any leading economy across Canada. These qualities make Ottawa the most desired place to live and work in my opinion.

The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?

I have seen Ottawa make strides in its approach to diverse programs and inclusivity, however there is still work that can be done in regards to the politics of social justice and accessibility to quality development programs for underserved communities. My arts education work in youth detention centres and low income neighbourhoods have helped me reach sectors of the population that are generally ignored or considered low priority. By providing youth, who are mainly from minority groups, a platform to explore, create and share their stories and experiences through poetry and lyricism, I am fortunate to witness the remarkable effects that many of these youth make in their communities and with their peers once they have been engaged with empathy, not authority.

You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?

Being announced the first official Ottawa English Poet Laureate in the last 27 years is an achievement that I most humbled by. For this great city of poets to recognize my passion and dedication for the literary arts is beyond what I ever expected for myself in 2017. I am still coming to understand what it means to be a Poet Laureate, but I do hope that I am able to carry it with the sense of justice and honour that my predecessors have.

What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?

I look forward to seeing the arts, culture and entertainment industry grow in the city. While I believe the LRT will be an amazing addition to the city’s landscape, and will play a major role in the boost of businesses and job opportunities for our present residents and those looking to relocate for work or post-secondary studies, I am excited for Ottawa’s recognition as a living destination as more sports fans are clamouring to the TD Place stadium for Redblacks and Ottawa Fury matches. This provides a counterbalance to the Canadian Tire Centre and hockey fans, many of whom have been looking for more affordable ways to partake in professional sports outside of their homes and closer to the downtown core. I have hope that this boom in attendance of sports events will transform many independent restaurants, venues and arts spaces in Ottawa’s centre town into successful businesses that will not only help to sustain a vibrant events based culture for Ottawans to enjoy, but will also help create the blueprint for our capital as the most promising, economically stable and livable Canadian city for decades to come.

Photo credit: Randy Kelly

The Hon. Catherine McKenna

Catherine McKenna has three big jobs. She is Canada’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, leading the country’s charge to tackle issues affecting the planet’s sustainability. She’s the Member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre, helping her constituents with various matters which impact their daily lives. And, last but not least, she and her husband are parents to three busy kids.

Long before being elected to political office, Catherine was energetically engaged in changing Ottawa for the better.  As a community volunteer, she sat on the boards of various non profit organizations and associations, and continues to champion a creative, inclusive, green and forward-thinking Ottawa. For her commitment to public service, Catherine McKenna is one of #150GreatPeople. in Ottawa. Here, she answers the questionnaire:

What makes Ottawa special to you?

Ottawa is a big city with a small town feel that makes it such a welcoming place. I am so fortunate to represent Ottawa Centre, which has such a vibrant mix of neighbourhoods like Hintonburg or Chinatown – there is no shortage of activity! I also LOVE the diverse geography of Ottawa from the farmlands around Carlington to the canal – this city truly is a playground.

What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?

The options! From paddling along the river, to taking in the bustling arts scene, or a family outing in a park, this city allows you to build a great sense of balance in your life. My family is so important to me, so the fact that we can get out in Ottawa and connect over a meal or in nature is hugely valuable to me.

The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?

Ottawa Centre is home. I care deeply about my home and want it to be a welcoming place.

You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?

I am most proud of the hard work our team puts into working with the residents of Ottawa Centre to help them solve their issues. Since we opened the office in 2015 we have been able to help hundreds of people navigate federal services including immigration, taxation, and governmental benefits including pension plans and old age security. This is the work that doesn’t get politicized or talked about much, but it is the day-to-day work with our constituents that makes me proud. Not to mention – we saw 133 organizations in Ottawa Centre receive $1.4 million to hire students in the community, and as a government we were able to secure $1.9 billion to support the construction of light rail.

What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?

I want Ottawa to be the coolest, greenest, capital! Ottawa has so much going for it, but we can’t rest easy. We need to push ourselves as a city to be different, be unique, and most of all be creative! With the natural assets of the national capital region we offer a wonderful place to raise a family, pursue a career and build a home. If we keep pushing ourselves to do better, there is no doubt that the future is bright for Ottawa.

Jim Kyte

Jim Kyte has always been a team player. Whether on the ice during the sixteen years he played in the NHL; working with students and staff as Dean of The School of Hospitality and Tourism at Algonquin College; or through the charitable work to which he remains committed, Jim knows that building a successful community requires a team approach.

The first legally deaf person to play in the NHL, Jim overcame numerous obstacles to become one of the toughest defencemen in hockey – and, in turn, he wanted to help other kids facing similar circumstances. He co-founded the Canadian Hearing Impaired Hockey Association and started the Jim Kyte Hockey School for the Hearing Impaired, and is working hard to create an environment that treats all people – whether they have visible or invisible disabilities – fairly and equitably. Jim Kyte leads by example, and for his focus on creating an inclusive community, for helping students to be the best they can be, and for using his life experiences to help make his hometown of Ottawa a better place, he is one of #150GreatPeople. Here, he answers the questionnaire:

What makes Ottawa special to you?

First, I was born and raised in Ottawa. One always feels a special bond to their birthplace. My family connections run deep on both sides of the Ottawa River and my family means everything to me. There is a sense of comfort when you know they are nearby. Secondly, my professional hockey career took me on a 17-year odyssey around North America, spending quality time in at least ten different cities. You do not truly appreciate how special Ottawa is until you experience living in other places. I have had the opportunity to live in some great places but to me Ottawa is a big small town with an unbeatable quality of life.

What do you love most about living and working in Ottawa?

Living-wise, I can’t pick just one thing–like a superb dish, it’s the combination of ingredients that sets it apart. I love how we can get around the city and we have a farm in the middle of it! I love the four seasons – everyone loves the summer but I embrace them all – including winter! With the waterways, NCC green space and Gatineau Park at our doorstep, the outdoor activities throughout the year are endless. Being the National Capital, Ottawa is blessed with tremendous culture with its plethora of wonderful National museums and over 130 embassies; fantastic entertainment options with its pro sport teams, the NAC, and festivals galore; and, we also have a very vibrant and dynamic restaurant scene.

Work-wise, with 5 exemplary post-secondary institutions and 65 federal research labs, to me Ottawa is the “education city” of Canada. We have an extremely talented and innovative workforce, which bodes well in attracting the best possible teachers and mentors for our students—our future.

The work that you do helps to make Ottawa a better place – why is this important to you?

A community that gives back is the hallmark of an excellent place to live. It is paramount to lead by example–it is incumbent on each of us to leave the world a better place from when we entered.

You give back to the Ottawa community in various ways – is there one Ottawa-related achievement of which you are most proud?

I’ve supported many, many worthy charities throughout my personal life and professional career. As the only deaf player to play in the NHL, I am proud of starting the Jim Kyte Hockey School of the Hearing Impaired, which ran for 8 years. Many of the graduates of the camp have gone on the represent Canada in the Deaflympics.

In recent years, I have gotten more and more involved in advocating on accessibility issues and creating an inclusive environment for all people. In 2005, the Ontario government passed the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for people with disabilities by 2025. We are 12 years in and have a long way to go to meet the standards in 2025.
When we think of disabilities, we tend to think of people in wheelchairs and physical disabilities—ones that are visible and apparent. The broad range of disabilities also includes vision disabilities, deafness or being hard of hearing, intellectual or developmental, learning, and mental health disabilities.

People have “false filters” making assumptions about what people with disabilities can or cannot do. There are many myths that need to be shattered and I’m working with some very inspiring people to try and achieve this.

What do you hope for Ottawa in the future?

With three layers of government on both sides of the river, Ottawa and Gatineau both get bogged down in partisan politics and Federal/Provincial/Municipal red tape. Nirvana would be to see Ottawa-Gatineau become an independent non-partisan area, similar to Washington D.C. I know this is a far-fetched dream but one can always hope.

I do realistically hope our community can continue to grow smartly and prosper. The development of Lebreton Flats and the former E.B. Eddy lands (Zibi) will transform our downtown core—an opportunity that comes once in a few lifetimes. Whatever gets developed I hope accessibility and inclusivity permeate throughout the design and are not bolted on after the fact.