What is WOW?

WOW is an annual, two week-long series of dialogues, cultural and celebratory events, guided tours, sports activities, documentary screenings, art and photo exhibits, book launches, and other fun events designed to convey the genuine welcome and hospitality of Ottawa to newcomers. 

WOW provides opportunities for quality interactions among residents, old and new. Recurring annually since 2013 on the last two weeks of June, WOW was initiated by OLIP and championed by the Mayor of Ottawa.  WOW events are sponsored by OLIP partners and many diverse stakeholders.

Mayor's Welcome Message

Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW) is a marvelous opportunity for Ottawa residents to join efforts to showcase our nation’s capital as a community open to newcomers. WOW also serves as a forum for celebrating newcomers’ valuable contributions to community building and to the enrichment of Ottawa’s cultural mosaic.

Ottawa’s economic growth and social development are closely tied to our community’s success in welcoming immigrants and facilitating their integration. Do not miss being a part of WOW 2019!

Our Team

Chair, Ottawa Local Integration Partnership (OLIP)

Alex Munter
President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre

Chair, Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW)

Sarah Onyango
Radio and television host and producer


Hindia Mohamoud
Director, Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP)

Denise Deby
Partner Relations Officer, Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP)
Coordinator, Equity Ottawa

Nyamulola Kambanji
Project Manager, Welcoming Ottawa Week (WOW)

WOW Working Group




WOW provides opportunities for quality interactions among residents, old and new. Recurring annually since 2013 on the last two weeks of June, WOW was initiated by OLIP and championed by the Mayor of Ottawa.  WOW events are sponsored by OLIP partners and many diverse stakeholders.

Partners and Funders

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Become a Supporter

The success of WOW depends on the efforts of our supporters, which includes WOW event hosts, volunteers, funders and media partners.

Whether you want to host an event or contribute to WOW’s success in other ways, we’d love to talk to you.

Please contact Nyamulola at nyamulola@olip-plio.ca.



What happens during WOW? 

From June 18-30, more than 75 events are held across the city, ranging from guided tours and arts events, to sports activities and town halls. You can find all of the WOW events listed here.

Are WOW events free?

Yes, all WOW events are free of charge.

Are all events open to the public?

The majority of events are open to the public. However, there are some events that are private, for example, workplace events for employees. The Calendar lists which events are open to the public and which are not.

How can I find events that interest me?

You can use our searchable Calendar to filter WOW events by type, date and location. Events take place across the city and most are accessible by public transit.


Can I host a WOW event?

Yes, anyone can organize a WOW event. For an event to be a part of the Welcoming Ottawa Week, it has to meet only two conditions:  

  • It has to be free and inclusive of immigrants 
  • Event content has to be linked to topics related to immigration, diversity and integration.  

Do I need to register my event?

Yes, all WOW events must be registered online. The deadline for registration is April 27, 2019.  

What support is provided to WOW event hosts? 

In order to ensure the success of your WOW event, OLIP:

  • Provides ideas on types of WOW events and activities you can host. 
  • Promotes your WOW event through its launch event, an on-line calendar, traditional media and social media.
  • Hosts a blog for WOW event hosts to post their reflections and summaries of their events.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

If you have any questions about hosting an event, contact Nyamulola at nyamulola@olip-plio.ca.


WOW was launched in 2013 to respond to two priorities of Ottawa’s Immigration Strategy:

  1. To create opportunities for all Ottawa residents, including immigrants, to connect culturally, intellectually and socially in order to achieve a cohesive civic culture that draws on the creativity of all residents to develop a diverse, vibrant, and cosmopolitan city.
  1. To draw attention to Ottawa’s flourishing diversity and to strengthen the city’s competitive advantage, allowing it to attract new residents and capital from around the world. 

What are WOW’s objectives?

  • To make newcomers feel more welcome and better able to participate in building Ottawa’s future.
  • To sustain Ottawa’s reputation as a cosmopolitan city where diversity thrives and newcomers are welcomed. 
  • To create new champions for attracting and integrating immigrants.

Who is involved in WOW?

WOW was initiated and developed by OLIP, championed by Mayor Jim Watson, and fuelled by OLIP partners, stakeholder organizations and civic groups that host WOW events. 

The number of organizations hosting WOW events has grown every year since its inception in 2013.  

Everyone is encouraged to be part of WOW by hosting an event, participating in any of the dozens of WOW events taking place across the city or simply promoting WOW in their network to help grow the movement.  

How has the Mayor championed WOW?

In June 2013, the Mayor of Ottawa, Jim Watson, proclaimed the last week of June of every year as WOW, a time we set aside to express Ottawa’s hospitality to new immigrants. Through this proclamation, the Mayor of Ottawa invites residents to recognize that a large proportion of residents arrive here as immigrants and contribute to Ottawa’s quality of life. 


How many immigrants does Ottawa receive every year? 

Ottawa receives about 12,000 newcomers every year, split equally between permanent residents and temporary residents. Temporary residents include international students, temporary foreign workers, refugee claimants and humanitarian admissions. 

Why is welcoming newcomers important? 

Newcomers are essential for Ottawa’s prosperity, growth and social development. Apart from the economic benefits, there is universal agreement that Ottawa residents want to live in an inclusive and unified city.

How does WOW help make newcomers feel more welcome in Ottawa? 

Many Ottawa residents value and welcome immigrants and assist them daily in their integration process. However, this support is too often invisible to newcomers who are focused on overcoming the many challenges of integration.  

Our goal with WOW is to create opportunities for Ottawa residents to convey their genuine respect and welcome, and to encourage many more Ottawa residents and organizations to join the chorus of our collective welcome.