Week in Review 1

Thursday, February 05, 2009


So this week was actually super packed so please fasten your seat belts and place your seats in the upright position. We ask that you don’t try to get until we have reached our cruising altitude.

Last week the University of Ottawa was fortunate enough to have a visit by Phil Fontaine, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. He delivered a lecture about tolerance and intolerance in a post apology area. I secretly wanted to hear someone mention that the land the University stands on is likely stolen land, but there was no such statement. Nevertheless the occasion was marked by the presence of several MPs, including Justin Trudeau.

A little known fact is that the University of Ottawa will be hosting 2 massive conferences this summer. Both the meetings have a firm commitment to be more environmentally friendly, green conference is the jargon of the day. On Friday I hired a new student to work solely on green conferences. It is always amazing how many small things can be done to make a big difference. I mean the ACFAS conference organizing committee has committed to have a bottle water free event and you would not imagine how everyone has gotten pumped up about it.

This weekend I was in Montreal. I was the fortunate guest of a good number of the Sustainable Concordia team. We went on an ice-fishing trip to a small town just outside of Trois Rivières. The night was fantastic, regardless of how cold it was, and I made some really good friends. You see the benefit of speaking to our sustainability coordinators is that you get a shit-load of really cool information.
For instance, this week our sustainability team was looking to find a new mechanical composter for uOttawa. Let’s just say that we were having some trouble finding something that is reliable in the cold weather, can compost about 200 tonnes a year, and isn’t going to break the bank. Well guess what, Concordia has one that does all that and more; and of course the icing on the cake… it is made locally.
My trip to Montreal ended off on a great note. Jenn, my counter-part at Concordia, gave me a tour of their operation and gave me a couple of good ideas that I want to explore soon.

By the time the new week rolled around I realized that International Development Week was in full swing. Music, dance, food, lectures, and one of a kind opportunities. I am thoroughly impressed with the organization this year. Essentially every night is being marked with another high caliber keynote speaker. Every day there are movies and information tables and of course some great discussions.

Wednesday was a pretty intense day. It started with an ACFAS meeting at which I was shocked by the enthusiasm of our organizing committee. This group is even more pumped than I thought. We took a look at what was organized last year by the organizing committee. I think that this year we will literally experience a quantum leap in the amount of green initiatives for the conference. Just as a teaser, aluminum water bottles, local fair-trade conference bags, recycled paper, fair-trade coffee, electronic registration, recycled pens, composting, recycling, …
When night came around it was another International Development Week event, an intimate night with Dr. Lloyd Axeworthy. This was a remarkable talk; Dr. Axeworthy is incidentally a former politician turned university president as well. His perspectives on international diplomacy and Canada’s role in the world was deeply intriguing. I spent most of the night in a hypnotic trance clinging to his many anecdotes. The highlight of the night was actually a bit of a stolen moment actually; as it turns out the students in attendance asked the most incredible and well thought out questions I and I am sure Dr. Axeworthy has ever heard. Not one question was off topic or slanted. Not one student took the opportunity to prattle on about their of thoughts or musings. I was quite taken aback.

Today was the second and final day of the Free Store for this month. It was also my Katimavik participants first time hosting this kind of an event. The Free Stores are always a lot of fun but this month was particularly important because of Recycle Mania. There were some scheduling errors but we persisted nonetheless.

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