News / Ottawa

Ottawa 2017 goes global and invites embassies to host their own celebrations

Ottawa 2017 planners are hoping that Canada won’t be the only country celebrating a birthday in the city next year.

The Canadian women's water polo team poses for a picture among international flags at the Pan American Games in Toronto last year.

Mark Blinch/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Canadian women's water polo team poses for a picture among international flags at the Pan American Games in Toronto last year.

Ottawa 2017 planners are hoping that Canada won’t be the only country celebrating a birthday in the city next year.

Executive director Guy Laflamme and Mayor Jim Watson have been reaching out to local embassies for an event series called “Ottawa Welcomes the World” that would invite other countries to host their own national celebrations in the capital.

“They would be one-day events that would celebrate the culture of that country through a showcase of music, food, cinema and dance,” said Laflamme.

“At the same time it would become a celebration of Canadian diversity by having a wide spectrum of cultures and countries being celebrated,” he said.

Starting in January of next year countries around the world would be invited to stage a one-day immersive cultural event in a Lansdowne venue, either Aberdeen Pavilion or the Horticultural building.

The events would be aimed at both local residents and visitors to the city. Laflamme said he’s hoping events would also bring people from ex-pat communities in Montreal and Toronto to the city.

He said the plan has been in progress for 18 months and so far over 25 local embassies have expressed “a strong desire” to partner with the city on an event.

There are at least 129 embassies and high commissions in the city, and ideally a schedule would include “at least a couple of events every month of the year,” according to Laflamme.

Last week, Ottawa 2017 released a tender document asking for event planning firms to come forward to help orchestrate the yearlong event schedule.

Each event would be allowed to display for one day, and sometimes events would be scheduled on consecutive days, according to the document.

Laflamme said while the culture and arts of the country would be at the forefront, the events would also offer a chance to teach younger residents about the history of immigration and for countries to showcase their economic opportunities.