The 6th Biennial Ottawa Immigration Forum will be held on November 22 & 23, 2021 at 9am – 12:30pm. The theme of this year’s Forum is Equity Matters in Ottawa: Policy, Practice, & Potential.

During this major two-day event, 23 speakers from across Canada will reflect on the vulnerabilities experienced by immigrants and racialized populations during the COVID-19 pandemic, provide insights on their root causes, and share ideas and opportunities for local action to improve equity in key areas: in health care, the economy, and in municipal governments’ roles. Forum attendees will:

  • Hear from expert speakers on the latest immigration developments in Ottawa and surrounding communities
  • Learn about plans and approaches to address inequities in health, the economy, and key areas of municipal jurisdiction
  • Reflect on current work by governments and OLIP partners to ignite Ottawa’s potential to achieve equitable outcomes for all residents
  • Receive OLIP’s Biennial Progress Report
  • Engage in discussions with experts – there will be ample time to interact with speakers and panelists and ask questions
  • Engage in discussions with experts – there will be ample time to interact with speakers and panelists and ask questions
  • Network with people working in the fields of immigration, settlement, health, economic development, and social justice.


Barbara Dumont-Hill

Grandmother, Elder, Spirit Keeper

Jim Watson

Mayor, City of Ottawa

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi

Member of Parliament, Ottawa Centre

Dr. Vera Etches

Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa Public Health

Catrina Tapley

Deputy Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

Corey Bernard

Director of Equity, Inclusion, Diversity, and Anti-Racism at Ontario Health 

Zahra Ebrahim

CEO & Co-Founder of Monumental

Ümit Kiziltan

Chief Data Officer, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) 

Liban Abokor

Executive Director of Youth LEAPS

Faduma Yusuf

Executive Director, Britannia Woods Community House

Rawlson King

Councillor & Council Liaison for Anti-Racism and Ethnocultural Relations Initiatives City of Ottawa

Deborah Tunis

Acting Chair, OLIP Council

Dr. Mumbi Maina

Social Planner, City of Vancouver 

Anthony Morgan

Manager, Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit at City of Toronto 

Suzanne Obiorah

Director, Gender and Race Equity, Inclusion, Indigenous Relations, and Social Development Service, City of Ottawa

Élise Edimo

Liaison Officer, Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone de l’Est de l’Ontario 

Ty Smith

Director – Diversity, Inclusion and Leadership 

Naomi Alboim

Senior Policy Fellow at the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration, and Integration (CERC) 

Dr. Iain Reeve

Associate Director for the Immigration Knowledge Area, Conference Board of Canada 

Bolanle Alake-Apata

Economist, Labour Market Information Council

Stephen Willis

General Manager, Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development Department, City of Ottawa

Hindia Mohamoud

Director, OLIP

Masters of Ceremonies

Alan Neal

Host, All in a Day Show, CBC Radio

Sarah Onyango 

Host/Producer -CHUO 89.1FM & Rogers TV and Chair of WOW Planning Committee


Jamaal Jackson Rogers

Award-winning poet, arts educator, creative entrepreneur, and performance artist



DAY 1: Monday, November 22, at 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM

9:00 AM

Opening of the 6th Biennial Ottawa Immigration Forum

Welcoming Remarks

The opening of the 6th Biennial Immigration Forum welcomes hundreds of attendees from across Canada to discuss the state of immigration, our progress and collective learning from the last two years, and post-pandemic improvements in health equity, economic development, and key areas of municipal jurisdiction. In this session, you will hear from a respected Elder, the city Mayor, and the masters of ceremonies for the Forum.




9:30 AM

Keynote Speech by the Honourable Yasir Naqvi

Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Challenges & Opportunities

The Honourable Yasir Naqvi will deliver the Forum’s keynote speech. The Ottawa Centre MP, former MPP, and former Chair of OLIP, will draw from his many recent roles to reflect on the lessons learned from COVID-19 and provide insights on the opportunities that lay ahead of us, as OLIP partner and stakeholders engage in improvement plans in community health and wellbeing.



10:20 AM

Reflections on the Pandemic Response

Dr. Vera Etches on Learnings from the Pandemic and Ideas for the Way Forward

Dr. Vera Etches will share her unique vantage point as the medical officer of health on what the pandemic has revealed about Ottawa’s weaknesses and strengths. She will convey some of the early plans on improving community outcomes.



10:35 AM

An Artful Forum Moment

Jamaal Jackson Rogers, Former Ottawa Poet Laureate

Jamaal Jackson will transport our hearts to empathize with the experience of newcomers in the national capital. He will deliver two poems:

  1. The Medicine Poem was first composed by Jamaal in honor of the Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW), in 2018 and launched at a Mayor’s Breakfast Event to kick start WOW’s popular series of fun and engaging activities designed to convey our genuine welcome and respect to immigrants.
  2. The Brighter Days Poem is an ode to those who’ve made it through the pandemic and who had obstacles to face because of their daily conditions.



10:45 AM

Igniting Ottawa’s Potential for Equitable Health Outcomes

Ottawa’s Potential to Achieve Equitable Outcomes

The pandemic has heighted our consciousness of systemic inequities and strengthened our resolve to improve community outcomes. Panelists at this session will expound on key capabilities under development that can ignite Ottawa’s potential to achieve equitable outcomes, from the application of equity in health system recovery, to collaborative inter-system data capacity development, to effective community participation in collective planning. In this session, we will explore how can we build accessible healthcare strategies and services in Ottawa.

Topics covered
  • Applying Equity to Healthcare Planning
  • The Necessity of Effective Community Engagement When Identifying and Addressing Challenges
  • Inter-System Data Connectivity and the Work of the LIPs to Facilitate Immigrants’ Integration
  • Linking Funding Structures and Opportunities to Community Needs




12:15 PM

OLIP’s Report

OLIP Partnership’s Biennial Report

Since its founding in October 2009, OLIP has played a key role in building Ottawa’s capacity to welcome and integrate immigrants and refugees. Much progress has been made since then, but new major challenges have emerged during the pandemic. OLIP will provide an update on the partnership’s recent progress and a sneak preview of what is to come as partners build on collective learnings from the COVID pandemic.

Topic covered
  • Progress in Pandemic Context: The Power of Trust & Cross-sectoral Collaborations to Protect our community



DAY 2: Tuesday, November 23, at 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM

9:00 AM

New Federal Mandate

How will the New Federal Mandate Impact Ottawa?

With September’s federal election behind us, a new mandate is in place to govern Canada. IRCC will provide an overview of how the new mandate may impact Ottawa.

Areas of discussion include IRCC’s efforts to support the post-pandemic recovery, facilitate settlement and integration amid the pandemic, the Municipal Nominee Program, Afghan refugee resettlement, and more. In this session, we will explore how the election results can impact federal immigration policies and Ottawa’s efforts to welcome newcomers.



9:30 AM

Inclusive and Equitable Municipalities

How is the Role of Municipalities being Leveraged to Affect Positive Change

Municipalities play an increasingly important role in key social policy, investment, and programming areas, ranging from economic development, transportation, housing, infrastructure development, public health, social services, and parks and recreation, arts and culture, and policing. Furthermore, as the government closest to the people, municipalities assume the important role of speaking for the needs of communities with higher levels of government. In this session, panelists will explore several key questions: How is this important role of municipalities being leveraged to accommodate cities that are growing through immigration and to address inequities? What are cities across Canada doing to become more inclusive and equitable for immigrants?

Topics covered
  • City of Ottawa’s Anti-Racism Strategy and Plan
  • Vancouver’s New Equity Framework & Plans
  • City of Toronto’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism: Strategy & Plan – Inclusion & Civic Participation of Francophone Immigrants



10:45 AM

Musical Performance by Orkidstra


“Caravan”, by Duke Ellington and Juan Tizol, is one of the most recognizable Jazz songs of the 20th century. Written for Ellington’s orchestra in 1936 and featuring a slithering, chromatic melody, the song has become famous through many interpretations by Jazz musicians and its use in television and films around the world. OrKidstra was proud to produce this virtual recording for the End-of-Year Virtual Celebration in June of 2021, allowing OrKidstra students to still “play together” while remaining safely apart.



11:00 AM

Immigrant Workers in Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery

How can we Improve Immigrants’ Access to Quality Jobs and Safe Workplaces?

Pre-existing economic injustices have fueled the devastating impact of the pandemic on immigrant workers. As we rebuild our economy, we are seeing a tight labour market and shortage of workers in many sectors. Panelists in this session will explore the conditions we needed to put in place to ensure that the current labour shortages and the introduction of many supportive policies will make a difference in the economic prospects of immigrants, as we come out of the pandemic. Key questions to be explored by this panel include: how can we correct opportunity gaps and accessibility challenges in the labour market? How can targeted public policy and program interventions create access to quality jobs safer workplaces, adaptability in skills in a changing economy, for immigrants, especially for immigrant women and racialized youth?

Topics covered
  • Immigration Policy During the Pandemic: Challenges & Opportunities
  • COVID Immigration Flow & Economic Integration Prospects in Post-Pandemic Labour Markets
  • Post-pandemic Labour Markets, and the Future of Workers



12:15 PM

Closing Remarks

Forum Closing Remarks & Adjournment

To close the 6th Ottawa Immigration Forum, we will have a few words from Hindia Mohamoud, the Director of OLIP on the future of this work as we pave the way for the renewal of OLIP partners’ strategic plan (2022-2027).



Forum Co-Hosts & Funding Partners