Valued guests

The University of Ottawa is a place for discussion and debate furthering in-depth thought and meaningful action. We regularly welcome inspiring people who have made their mark not only on our region’s or country’s history, but on that of the world!

Prime Minister Trudeau

Cheers and applause thundered through the campus on November 2, 2016, when Prime Minister Trudeau and uOttawa President Jacques Frémont welcomed 250 Canadian Olympians, Paralympians and coaches to uOttawa. They were joined by Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough, a uOttawa alumna and three-time swimming medallist at the Seoul and Barcelona Paralympic Games. The Team Canada athletes celebrated their Rio Games success by signing autographs and playing sports with 370 local Grade 3 to 6 students at Montpetit Hall.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

It was 1969 and John Lennon and Yoko Ono had just wrapped up their “bed-in” at a Montreal hotel, where they recorded the anthem “Give Peace a Chance.” Allan Rock, a uOttawa student leader (and later uOttawa president) convinced the couple to travel to Ottawa with him to attend a peace conference at the University. Following the press conference the famous couple met with media and excited students in front of Tabaret Hall before asking Rock to introduce them to then-prime minister Pierre Trudeau. Unfortunately the prime minister was not at home that day.

Photo: Mike Daly

Joannie Rochette

A six-time Canadian champion, world silver medallist and Olympic bronze medallist, figure skater Joannie Rochette has inspired both on the ice with her drive and determination and off the ice with her perseverance in the face of adversity. Only days before her competition at the Vancouver Olympics, Joannie’s mother passed away suddenly. Joannie gathered her strength and decided to do what her mother would have wanted — she competed and won the bronze. In January 2016, the professional figure skater visited uOttawa to share her experiences, followed by an open skate at the arena, where uOttawa students were invited to strap on their skates and join her on the ice.

Madeleine Thien: Award winning writer and champion of the human spirit

The University was honoured and uOttawa’s budding writers were thrilled to welcome Canadian writer Madeleine Thien as the English department’s 2016 writer in residence. During her stay at uOttawa, Thien, whose novels and stories have been translated into 25 languages, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Literary Award for her novel Do Not Say We Have Nothing. This international saga — a story about musicians studying Western classical music at the Shanghai conservatory in the 1960s, and the legacy of the 1989 Tiananmen protests — was also nominated for the Man Booker Prize.

Justin Trudeau

“It’s clear to me that you are the most engaged, informed, empowered generation that has ever lived.” It was at the June 2017 commencement ceremonies Justin Trudeau offered these encouraging words to graduates of the University of Ottawa. He reminded Faculty of Arts students that he also holds an arts degree. The Prime Minister was also on hand in November 2016 to greet 250 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and their coaches. Watch Justin Trudeau’s speech to graduatesWatch Justin Trudeau’s speech to graduates.

David Seggal

On October 10, 2017, David Seggal, cofounder of tea company David’s Tea, was on campus to share his vast entrepreneurial experience with students. His talent and ambition propelled his company from a single storefront to a NASDAQ-listed powerhouse worth an estimated $200M. Telfer School of Management students were particularly interested in his business advice and anecdotes.

Alex Trebek

This host of Jeopardy! and Class of ’61 philosophy graduate of the University of Ottawa is now a generous scholarship donor. Who is … Alex Trebek! Indeed, Trebek proudly supports the education of current students at his alma mater. Among his many contributions is a leadership prize of $10,000 awarded in recognition of the academic and community achievements of one deserving student. He also funds two other activities: the Alex Trebek Distinguished Lecture Series and the Alex Trebek Forum for Dialogue.

Pittsburg Penguins

Sydney Crosby and his Pittsburgh Penguin teammates took to the campus rink in May 2017 to practice before playing a semi-final game against the Ottawa Senators. The Pen’s assistant coach, Jacques Martin, an alumnus of the University of Ottawa, regularly shares his expertise with Patrick Grandmaitre, coach of the Gee-Gees men’s hockey team. Several students had a chance to see the team when they exited the arena.

David Suzuki

In September 2015, renowned scientist David Suzuki was on campus to raise awareness of the importance of seeking solutions to the dangers caused by climate change. In front of an audience of students and community members, David Suzuki implored them to elect political representatives who would protect the environment since, as the host of The Nature of Things explained, climate change is the greatest threat facing Canadians. Suzuki was on campus at the invitation of IVote-jeVote, a non-partisan organization that hosts debates on Canadian issues, prior to the 2015 federal election. Read David Suzuki’s call to make climate change a priority.

Juan Manuel Santos

In October 2017, Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia and 2016 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, made a stop at uOttawa during his official state visit to Canada. Although he spent much time at the start of his presidency negotiating an end to the conflict with Colombia’s FARC guerrillas, Santos is now focused on maintaining and consolidating this peace. He recommended three principles to his rapt audience: innovate, persevere and always do what you think is right. Read the inspiring words of this artisan of peace in Colombia.

Roméo Dallaire

In November 2017, Lieutenant General (retired) the Honorable Roméo Dallaire was on campus to take part in discussions on post-traumatic stress disorder, an injury he suffered following his experience in the Rwandan genocide. Author of three best-sellers and recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 2002, this former senator and military officer now directs the Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative and the Roméo Dallaire Foundation. He candidly discussed the importance of mental health with his attentive audience.

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