The following is a sponsored post in partnership with Ottawa Tourism. All opinions are 100% my own.
Immigration has been a big topic in the news recently, and it has been a matter of intense debate in political elections in many countries around the world. Some voices have argued for restricting immigration, some continue to support it and some fall somewhere in the middle. There have been many negative messages and attitudes of anti-immigrant policies which have marked immigrants as intruders or outsiders resulting in clashes in government on policies and growing number of challenges faced at the border.
Despite the intense news coverage, we need to focus on all the positives and embrace the tremendous contributions that immigration has done for the nation. Immigration has reshaped and enriched many countries, such as Canada, in monumental ways so much that it is impossible to imagine what our society and the world we live in would look like today without it.
Table of Contents
Quick Facts on Immigration in Canada
What Being Canadian Means to Me
I am an immigrant, born in Seoul, South Korea and came to Canada with my family (my parents and older brother) when I was 5. We came here for a better opportunity and we were lucky in the sense that we were not running away from any particular political turmoil or anything of that sort. We were fine where we were, but as most immigrant families do, if you hear of a place that will give your children a better life, you will do whatever is best and necessary for them – so for us, that meant moving to Canada.
When I was young, there were definitely challenges growing up in a new country, I did not look the same as the other kids at school, my packed lunches looked different, I was petite in size and was learning English for the first time. And as with many immigrant children, I watched my parents go through many challenges, everyday struggles, and hardships adjusting to a different country, culture and way of life. But as I was growing up and assimilating into the Canadian culture and into my new home, I realized just how blessed I was to be Canadian-Korean, especially after having visited many countries around the world with limitations to freedom of speech and basic human rights. Being Canadian means having acceptance, freedom of expression, respect towards others, and a sense of belonging no matter what race or religion you may belong to. Canada has somehow managed to bring everyone together in peace and unity. The abundance of rich culture has made Canada a leader in diversity, multiculturalism (a political philosophy involves ideologies and policies which vary widely,ranging from the advocacy of equal respect to the various cultures in a society, through policies of promoting the maintenance of cultural diversity, to policies in which people of various ethnic and religious groups are addressed by the authorities as defined by the group to which they belong), and an inclusive country that has become a model champion on how to deal with immigration successfully.
How to Tour Ottawa in 3 Days Like a True Canadian!
I was grateful for the opportunity to work with Ottawa Tourism, especially after not having visited Ottawa for nearly 30 years, since I first immigrated to Canada. I was honoured to be invited during the Remembrance Day weekend (November 11th), which is an important time of the year to reflect on the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Armistice.
Below is a breakdown of my 3 Day Itinerary in Ottawa:
Find accommodation located close to the main attractions, so you’re within walking distance and can easily travel back and forth. I stayed at the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market 325 Dalhousie Street, literally steps to some of the main attractions in Ottawa (National Gallery of Canada, Parliament Hill) and located in a very convenient area! It is situated right in ByWard Market and features an indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge Copper Spirits and Sights on the 16th floor (the tallest rooftop lounge), showcasing the best views of Ottawa. It also turns into a great place to hang out at night with a live DJ, if you’re looking to experience some nightlife!
• DAY 1
Literally, just steps from the Andaz ByWard Market Hotel is the ByWard Market, one of the oldest and largest farmers’ markets in Canada. It is Ottawa’s main entertainment district where you can find some of the best restaurants, bars, coffee shops, bakeries, food retailers, one-of-a-kind local boutique shops, and local culinary products. The north end of Dalhousie Street (NorthDal) is where you can find local designers.
Places /Things to look for:
– Take a photo in front of the infamous OTTAWA sign is located on York Street at the corner of Sussex Drive.
– Le Moulin de Provence (ByWard Market Square Building) – Make sure to try an “Obama Cookie” (when President Obama came to visit in February 2009, he made a stop for an edible souvenir – maple shaped cookies with red and white icing)! You can also find “Trudeau Cookies” as well, named after our current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
– Savour Ottawa – This is where you can find 100% locally grown culinary products
– BeaverTails ByWard Market – BeaverTails, is a Canadian-based chain of pastry stands operated by BeaverTails Canada Inc. They’re fried dough pastries, hand stretched to resemble beaver’s tails and topped with a choice of sweet condiments like chocolate, cinnamon, etc. In 1978, Pam and Grant Hooker begin serving BeaverTails pastries at the Killaloe Fair, west of Ottawa, Ontario.
-You can find the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s favourite restaurant Wasabi here, located at 41 Clarence Street.
-Make time to visit the Rideau Canal, also known as the Rideau Waterway, which connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario. Having opened in 1832, it is the oldest continuously operating canal in all of North America, and it certainly doesn’t fail to amaze in person! The 2019 hours of operation change during the time of year, but it is generally opened every single day: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/on/rideau/visit/heures-hours.
-Then, make your way to Parliament Hill, known as the area of Crown land on the southern banks of the Ottawa River in downtown Ottawa, head of the most recognizable symbol of democracy in Canada – the Parliament. The Centre block is currently still open for tours until the week of January 21st, 2019 but will be going under construction. The Senate will move to the Senate of Canada Building (previously the Government Conference Centre) and the House of Commons will move to the West Block. The free tours will continue at both locations and visitors will be able to reserve tickets online as a new online booking system is set to launch next Wednesday. The Parliament is located at 111 Wellington Street in Downtown Ottawa. For more info please visit https://visit.parl.ca/index-e.html.
-Visit the Ottawa’s NEW Art Gallery – Ottawa Art Gallery, 50 Mackenzie King Bridge, Hours: 9:00am – 9:00pm, FREE ADMISSION! www. oaggao.ca
The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) focuses on regional art within a national and international context. It just opened in April 2018 and is free for all! Stop by at the Jackson located inside or bring your family on Wednesday evenings because the gallery offers FREE childcare on Wednesday evenings and during special events!
-For dinner, I highly recommend Play Food & Wine (creation of Stephen Beckta
of the renowned Beckta dining & wine), located at 1 York Street, www.playfood.ca.
It is an upscale restaurant, with an open kitchen that focuses on small plates, it is located right across from the U.S. Embassy. The food was absolutely delicious, make sure to make reservations in advance, this place gets really busy!
If you want to experience some of Ottawa’s entertainment and nightlife, click here for recommendations on “Ottawa After Dark”.
• DAY 2 – Honouring Remembrance Day
-Visit the Virtual Poppy Drop on Parliament Hill, presented by The Royal Canadian Legion held every year during Remembrance Day weekend. Every year, the virtual poppies cascade down the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill to remember those who gave their all for Canada. This year, the Poppy Drop featured 117,000 digital poppies falling, each one representing one of Canada’s fallen since the beginning of the First World War. Money raised during the campaign is given to military veterans and their families. To make a donation online or to learn more, visit www.legion.ca.
-Visit the Canadian War Museum, 1 Vimy Place, Hours: 9:30 am – 5:00 pm, Thursday until 8:00 pm. For more info & admission fees visit: http://www.warmuseum.ca.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history showcasing the earliest days of New France to current-day operations, located along the Ottawa River, west of Parliament Buildings and downtown Ottawa.
On the 11th month of the 11th day, at the 11th hour in 1918, the First World War came to an end that lasted over four years and injured or killed nearly 30 million military personnel. Canada’s contribution was significant and our country came out proud and victorious, heading towards national autonomy within the British Commonwealth while mourning the loss or injury of 250,000 Canadians.
The Canadian War Museum is a great place to learn more about Canada’s proud military. I had the honour of meeting some of those serving at the museum as seen in the photos below.
Special exhibit now on: Victory 1918 – THe Last 100 Days (until March 31, 2019).
-Visit the Canadian Museum of History, 100 Laurier Street, Hours: Monday to Sunday 9:30 am to 5:00 pm, Thursdays until 8:00 pm. For more info & admission fees visit: www.historymuseum.ca.
This museum is Canada’s largest and most popular museum with displays of masterpieces of the history of three distinct eras from Canada’s past. “With roots stretching back to 1856, it is one of Canada’s oldest public institutions and a respected centre of museological excellence, sharing its expertise in history, archaeology, ethnology and cultural studies both within Canada and abroad.”
-Visit the National Gallery of Canada, 380 Sussex Drive, Winter Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 pm to 5:00 pm, Thursdays until 8:00 pm. For more info & admission fees visit: www.gallery.ca.
Taking art to another level. The Anthropocene is the special exhibition contemporary art exhibition found featuring new works from three Canadian artists collection of Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. These artists have created compelling visual experiences to raise environmental and ethical issues surrounding our exploitation of Earth’s resources.
This was my first time experiencing art through augmented reality, visitors can also immerse themselves in areas undergoing rapid change, thanks to augmented reality installations and visitor-activated films. Download the mobile app or use one of the available devices in the exhibition, it takes art to another level!
The special exhibition is on now: Anthropocene (until February 24, 2019)
For a great view: Walk up to the Nepean Point, located behind the National Gallery of Canada and follow the path past the garden plaza. Look out for the statue of French explorer Samuel de Champlain holding an instrument called an “astrolabe” – upside down!
-Visit the Edge of Peace Confederation Park (located across the National War Memorial) – *this exhibition is only displayed for a week during Remembrance Day.
This special presentation, also known as the “moon garden” is set up to commemorate Canada’s Hundred Days and the Armistice of the First World War, to show respect and honour those who have served.
-For dinner, if you want a healthy and delicious meal, head to Pure Kitchen, located at 340 Elgin Street for some vegetarian and vegan dishes! All menu items are made fresh, using whole natural ingredients.
• Day 3 – Remembrance Day Ceremony
-In the morning, approx. at 10:20 am, show your respects to our fallen soldiers by attending Ottawa’s National Ceremony of Remembrance at the National War Memorial Confederation Square, on Elgin Street. This ceremony marks the end of the First World War at 11 am, on November 11, 1918. (Note: there is an illumination ceremony that happens at the same time at the Canadian War Museum, a beam of light shines through a window into the Memorial Hall to perfectly frame the headstone from the grave of Canada’s Unknown Soldier).
-Catch the Virtual Poppies falling down the Kipnes Lantern, at the National Arts Centre located at 1 Elgin Street.
-Head to the “World Remembers” Free concert at the National War Memorial.
For more information on Ottawa and attractions, please visit www.ottawatourism.ca.