Q & A with The Department of Creative Works – A New Group in Old Ottawa East

The three principals of the Dept. of Creative Works outside their “favourite hangout” Cafe Qui Pense. From left to right: Nigel Pequette, Jess Ross, André Martel Credit: Jess Ross

The three principals of the Dept. of Creative Works outside their “favourite hangout” Cafe Qui Pense. From left to right: Nigel Pequette, Jess Ross, André Martel
Credit: Jess Ross

When the Mainstreeter heard from a group of Old Ottawa Easterners calling itself the Department of Creative Works, we thought, “Who ARE these guys?” So, we asked them.

Can you tell me more about the Dept. of Creative Works? What is it?

The Department of Creative Works is a local group that formed this past summer. The three of us met through the CAG Community Noticeboard Facebook page. We had a shared love for the annual Bosch Art Parade in the Netherlands. We were inspired to find a way to bring something like that to life in Ottawa.

The three of us are not full-time, professional artists or musicians, but we strongly believe in the role of the arts as a means to bring communities together. OOE is such a warm and diverse community. We thought, if there is anywhere in the city that we could find some like-minded individuals who might want to help bring a new event to life, it would be right here among our friends and neighbours.

We are looking for more people who would like to be involved with shaping this dream and helping to plan it – artists and musicians of course, but also organizers, communicators, thinkers. Really, we see the Department as being able to help bring together the community in a common effort, an effort that is shaped, owned and ultimately realized by the community itself.

What exactly do you want people to do during the parade?

We have noticed that Ottawa has no shortage of parades and festivals. There is a different one every week. There are food trucks and vendors. You pull up your lawn chair and you are entertained and (ssssssh!) they all kind of seem to be the same. This event is about active participation.

We hope to start the event with an accessory-making session and an opening ceremony. Then, instead of watching a parade go through the neighbourhood, we will all walk (and dance and sing) through the neighbourhood together. We will stop at several locations along the way to share different pieces of the story. To get the whole experience, you will have to come along through the neighbourhood.

What did you draw from the other parades you have seen around the world that made you think this could work in OOE?

None of us grew up in Ottawa. Our influences come Trinidad, Montreal, Vancouver and beyond. We have each participated in events where the spectators are just as much a part of the event as the official performers. We just loved the excitement and shared experience of being involved in something so much bigger than oneself. We felt this was something Ottawa not only lacked but craved. Based on the response we’ve had so far we are only more convinced of this!

Part of the beauty of OOE is its rich history – both Canadian history with the Rideau River and the Canal and also the history of its residents. We come from all over the world and have woven ourselves into the fabric of the community. We want everyone to feel comfortable with sharing those stories – anywhere from telling a story or singing a song at one of the stops along the way, to simply wearing a traditional costume or accessory proudly during the event.

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