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The host

Hosted by Gwen Madiba (MA ’12; BSocSc ’08), each season of uOttaKnow dives into a different theme for conversations with alumni and researchers that illuminate, inspire and entertain. Gwen is also the President of Equal Chance, a non-profit organization that empowers women and Black communities across Canada.  

Introducing: Season 5 of uOttaKnow!

Join us as we discuss how curiosity propels us to ask questions, explore new areas of interest, and move into uncharted territory. Our extraordinary alumni guests this season will be digging deep to uncover what curiosity means to them, its impact, and how it has spiced up their lives!

uOttaKnow is brought to you by the University of Ottawa’s Alumni Relations team. Rhea Laube is the producer and theme music from season three onwards is composed by Idris Lawal (BCom ‘15), a Nigerian born, Toronto based recording artist.

Have an idea for an upcoming season of uOttaKnow? Can you think of an incredible future guest or feature topic?  Email producer Rhea Laube and let us know. 

Check back here or subscribe to get the latest episode of uOttaKnow! 

Harley and Lindsay

Episode 1 – Campus Romance, Entrepreneurship, and Curiosity

Harley Finkelstein (LLB ’09, MBA ’09) is an entrepreneur, lawyer, and the president of Shopify. He is one of the “dragons” of CBC’s Next Gen Den, was listed as one of Fortune’s 40 Under 40, and was named University of Ottawa Alumnus of the Year in 2021. Lindsay Taub (MEd ’10) is a child and family therapist at Child in Mind, an Ottawa-based child psychology clinic. She serves on the board of directors of Ottawa Salus, an agency that provides supportive housing and mental health services to individuals in need. In this conversation, Harley and Lindsay discuss their campus romance as well as how a spirit of curiosity and entrepreneurship informs their family and professional lives. The interview includes a special spotlight question from Jamal Abdullah and Amaan Merali, who are uOttawa Start-Up Garage alumni and cofounders of Unique America. 

Listen to Season 5 - Episode 1 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Spotify | Simplecast

Read transcript for Season 5 - Episode 1

While we encourage you to listen to the full conversation, here are some highlights from Harley and Lindsay’s chat with Gwen. Read the article

Past seasons of uOttaKnow

Launched in September 2020, you won’t want to miss our previous conversations. Check out our archived episodes below and click through the links to listen or read each episode transcription.  

Our first season is about some of the most pressing topics to affect us during COVID-19: stress and mental health, vaccine research, and educational adaptability.  

Headshot of Nafissa Ismail

Episode 1 - Stress, Resilience, and the Brain

Dr. Nafissa Ismail, University Research Chair in Stress and Mental Health with the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Ismail explores the impact of prolonged stress on the brain and shares strategies to build resilience during challenging times. 

Listen to Season 1 - Episode 1 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 1 – Episode 1 

Headshot of Dr. John Bell

Episode 2 - COVID Vaccine Development

Dr. John Bell, Professor with the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute speaks about COVID-19 vaccine development and the challenges of mass distribution, access, safety, and effectiveness.  

Listen to Season 1 - Episode 2 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 1 – Episode 2 

Headshot of Joel Westheimer

Episode 3 - Beyond the Classroom, Education in a Pandemic

Dr. Joel Westheimer, University Research Chair in Democracy and Education at the University of Ottawa, explores how learning during a global pandemic is shaping and impacting the younger generation, Gen C- ‘Generation Covid’. 

Listen to Season 1 - Episode 3 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 1 – Episode 3 

This second season focuses on wellness and personal growth, with alumni guests from the fitness, fashion, and music industries.  

Headshot of Jean-Francois Menard

Episode 1 - Think Like an Olympian

Jean François Ménard (MA ’07; BSc ’05) is a mental performance coach who has worked with an incredible roster of elite athletes such as Olympic champions Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue and Super Bowl champion Laurent Durvernay-Tardif. He shares practical strategies to manage uncertainty and build resilience from his book Train Your Brain Like An Olympian. Special spotlight question to Jean François by head assistant coach, Gee Gees women’s volleyball Kaly Soro (BA ’19; Gee Gees Women’s Volleyball ’13-’18). 

Listen to Season 2 - Episode 1 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 2 – Episode 1  

Headshot of Idris Lawal

Episode 2 - Afrobop, Music, and Healing

Idris Lawal (BCom ’15) is an Afrobop Toronto based recording artist who released his debut EP “Young, Black & Blue” to great acclaim in 2020. He shares about the power of music for social change and healing.  Special spotlight question to Idris by Haitian Canadian musician, Liautaud H Philogene (BSocSci ’17) who works under the artist name King H. 

Listen to Season 2 - Episode 2 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 2 – Episode 2 

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Episode 3 - Fashion is Passion

Chantal Durivage (BA ’93) is founder and EVP, Creative Affairs of Groupe Sensation Mode. This conversation touches on everything from fashion as self-expression, eco-conscious clothing, to the future of retail and body diversity. Special spotlight question by Isabelle Gauvreau (BFA ’97) visual artist, owner and private stylist of the Ottawa boutique Isabelle Mode. 

Listen to Season 2 - Episode 3 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 2 – Episode 3 

Headshot of Jeanette Jenkins

Episode 4 - Inclusive Fitness, Motivation, and Positivity

Health Sciences alumna Jeanette Jenkins is a celebrity fitness trainer based in Los Angeles and the founder and president of The Hollywood Trainer. Jeanette talks about her journey to reaching millions online with her workouts and the evolving landscape of the fitness industry. She shares inclusive fitness tips for individuals of all abilities and backgrounds to motivate, build confidence and embrace healthy living. Special spotlight question to Jeanette by alumnus Trevor Monaghan (Gee Gees Men’s Football ’97-’01) member of the Cree Nation of Chisasibi, and fitness manager of the Chisasibi Fitness Center located on the eastern shore of James Bay in Northern Quebec.  

Listen to Season 2 - Episode 4 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 2 – Episode 4 

This third season focuses on the ins and outs of the entertainment industry with alumni guests working at the heart of show biz talking about film, reality television, tech trends, and more.

Headshot of Jesse Jones

Episode 1 - Entertainment, Connecting Worlds and Carrying on Family Legacy

Jesse Jones (BA ’03; Gee Gees Men’s Basketball ’00-’02) is a creator, executive producer, host, speaker, and head of Jones & Jones Group. He is also the new host of season one of the Bachelor in Paradise Canada that launched fall 2021. Jesse discusses his journey through the entertainment industry, his Jamaican Canadian roots, and the importance of family legacy.  Special spotlight question to Jesse from Haitian Canadian alumna CiCi Moya (BA ’11) content creator, host and health advocate. 

Listen to Season 3 – Episode 1 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 3 – Episode 1 

Headshot of Philippe Farladeau

Episode 2 - The Filmmaker’s Craft

Philippe Falardeau (BSocSci ’89) is the renowned Canadian film director of the Oscar award nominated Monsieur Lazhar as well as such Hollywood films as The Good Lie staring Reese Witherspoon and most recently My Salinger Year with Sigourney Weaver and Margaret Qualley. Philippe discusses the filmmaker’s craft and the changing future of the movie industry. Special spotlight question to Philippe from alumnus Papa Orleans-Minnow (BA ’15) host of the popular podcast Pops Culture.

Listen to Season 3 – Episode 2 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 3 – Episode 2

Headshot of Samantha Bee.

Episode 3 – Late-night TV, political satire, and democracy

Samantha Bee (BA 94) is the host of the popular American late-night TV show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee which offers a satirical take on the weekly news. She is a comedian, writer and producer and was previously the longest serving correspondent on Comedy Central’s Daily Show. Samantha discusses the transformative role uOttawa had on her career path and the potential of political satire to activate democratic engagement. Special spotlight question to Samantha from alumna Dr. Elizabeth Dubois (BA '11) Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Faculty of Arts at the University of Ottawa.

Listen to Season 3 – Episode 3 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 3 – Episode 3

Tanya Lapointe

Episode 4 – For the love of cinema- Dune and the collective moviegoing experience

Tanya Lapointe (BA ’00) is the executive producer of Dune, directed by Denis Villenueve with whom she also worked on Arrival and Blade Runner 2049. She is the co-founder of Les Production sur le toit and produced and directed the documentary Lafortune en papier that won the Audience Award at the Whistler Film Festival in 2020.  She has penned books in French and English such as The Art and Soul of Dune. Tanya discusses the relationship between fiction and documentary filmmaking as well as the magic of the moviegoing experience. Special spotlight question to Tanya from alumna Kenya-Jade Pinto (JD ’17) filmmaker in residence at the Refugee Law Lab at York University.

Listen to Season 3 – Episode 4 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Simplecast 

Read transcript for Season 3 – Episode 4 

The fourth season focuses on the role creativity and inspiration played in the lives of our remarkable alumni guests.

Danielle Lamarre

Episode 1 – Cirque du Soleil, Creativity and Leadership

Daniel Lamarre (DU ’12; BA ’76) is executive vice-chairman of the board of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and author of Balancing Acts: Unleashing the Power of Creativity in Your Life and Work. He spent the past twenty years helping build Cirque du Soleil with two decades as President and Chief Executive Officer. In this conversation with guest host Montreal based actor Marie Turgeon (BA ’88), Daniel discusses the importance of creativity in business and leadership exploring his experiences leading Cirque du Soleil. Special spotlight question to Daniel from uOttawa’s Dean of Arts Kevin Kee.

Listen to Season 4 - Episode 1 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Spotify | Simplecast

Read transcript for Season 4 – Episode 1

Sylvie Legere

Episode 2 – Community engagement, inspiration and the Chicago Cubs

Sylvie Légère (BCom ’91) is a social entrepreneur, impact investor, philanthropist, and author of Trust Your Voice: A Roadmap to Focus and Influence. Her passion for women's empowerment inspired her co-founding of The Policy Circle, a non-profit organization committed to public policy dialogue that has grown into a community of over 13,500 members across 44 states in the US. Sylvie discusses creative ways to foster community engagement and as part of the Ricketts family her inspiring community work with the Chicago Cubs. Special spotlight question to Sylvie from Meg Beretta (BScSoc ’17), director of digital strategy for the Nova Scotia Digital Service.

Listen to Season 4 - Episode 2 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Spotify | Simplecast

Read transcript for Season 4 – Episode 2

Caroline Monet

Episode 3 –Indigenous Identity, Art, and the International Stage

Faculty of Arts alumna Caroline Monnet is an Anishinaanbe and French multidisciplinary artist from Outaouais, Quebec. Her work has been widely shown internationally, everywhere from a permanent exhibit at UNESCO in Paris, to the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin to film festivals such as TIFF, Sundance, and Cannes. Caroline discusses how she uses visual art and film to communicate complex ideas around Indigenous identity grappling with colonialism’s impact and updating outdated systems with Indigenous methodologies. Special spotlight question to Caroline from Jon-Ethan Rankin-Kistabish (LLL ‘18), member of the Abitibiwinni First Nation, lawyer at Murdoch Archambault and member of the University of Ottawa Indigenous Alumni Council.

Listen to Season 4 - Episode 3 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Spotify | Simplecast

Read transcript for Season 4 - Episode 3


Mina Lux

Episode 4 –Marketing, Trends, and Creative Problem-Solving

Mina Lux (BSc ’90; BASc ’92) is an entrepreneurial marketing, business and product leader based in New York. She has held a series of top online marketing positions for the likes of USA Today and Scientific America. She co-founded two tech companies,—FloNetwork (a Deloitte Top 100 Fastest Growing Company in Canada) and Meelo Logic (which earned her a Gold Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year). Mina discusses pioneering the first technology platform that allows business to send emails as a way of generating leads and building revenue, as well as, drawing on her engineering degree to “spot the trend”. Special spotlight question to Mina from Aleeza Ladhani (BASc-Eng ’21 and Gee Gees Women’s Track and Field 2015-2017), technology analyst at Accenture and co-founder and CEO of Choloket. 

Listen to Season 4 - Episode 4 on Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Spotify | Simplecast

Read transcript for Season 4 - Episode 4

Alumni Spotify playlists

There’s no shortage of talent within the uOttawa alumni community. That’s why we created a series of themed Spotify playlists featuring alumni and students from across the University’s faculties.

The Spotify uOttawa Alumni-Diplômés project started in March 2020 in response to the isolation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve continued the initiative to remind us of the extraordinary power of human creativity—and of the immense talent that exists within our alumni community!

We’d love to hear from you: suggest the names of other talented uOttawa alumni artists and help improve our playlists. Email [email protected] with your ideas.

In the meantime, happy listening!

Get grooving with these themed playlists

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The Link web series

The uOttawa Entrepreneurship Hub, in partnership with Alumni Relations, produces a web series called “The Link” which introduces listeners to entrepreneurial insights shared by alumni around the world.
Get caught up on all the past episodes