THINKING GLOBALLY, CREATED LOCALLY – A Night with Ottawa’s documentaries

The Global Shapers Ottawa Hub was proud to support and promote the screening of three Ottawa-produced documentaries presented at the Mayfair Theatre on Wednesday, March 4th. There is a strong belief in our Hub that local action can have global impact, and so the idea behind ‘Thinking globally, created locally’ truly resonated with the Ottawa Shapers.


The first film, titled Sacred River brought us far away from Ottawa to meet Pratik Mahant who shared his love for the Ganga River, referred to as the “lifeline of India.” Realizing that the future of nature is under an imminent threat, directors Jennifer Macklem and Sajan Sindhu wanted to make a film about the sacred versus the profane. In the sixteen days that it took to make the documentary, their dedicated team discovered that the Ganga River, while under a serious threat of industrial pollution, also has a unique self-purifying capacity thanks to the high dissolved oxygen levels in the water.

Through the second documentary film, Secret War directed by students from the Carleton University Journalism program, the audience travelled for a brief visit to Afghanistan where the war that had lasted thirteen years left many Canadians struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) upon their return home. With memories of seeing children set on fire by their dads, piercing screams for help, loud explosions, and the unbearable loss of comrades, these soldiers come back in need of understanding and patience, but often find only ignorance and rejection. They are forced to resort to denial, ineffective self-medication and desperate calls for assistance that keep going unanswered. Shannon Gray, who worked in Afghanistan as a medic, returned home from the war only to realize that the symptoms she had been trained to recognize in others were her own, too. That is when she found out about the War Horse Project in Pembroke, which uses horse therapy to help PTSD patients face their fears and anxieties and rediscover their sense of self without judgment.

This inspiring evening ended right with the film, Turning the Page at the H’Art of Ottawa. The H’Art of Ottawa is an art studio managed by Lin Rowsell that encourages and celebrates self-expression of people with developmental disabilities and where “art is made of heart.” The film showcased last year’s project which the studio organized to help its members explore different ways of making music. Using a variety of objects, including goat’s toenails as instruments, they learned to appreciate sound, listen to each other and take turns. Conducted by Ottawa’s composer, percussionist and artist Jesse Stewart, on April 30, 2014, they had a unique opportunity to showcase their connection with music and one another on the fourth stage at the National Arts Centre (NAC). The studio organizes regular exhibitions in a range of venues and is a place where creativity meets dreams.

thinking globally created locally

This fascinating trio of films reminded us that there are wonderful people doing wonderful things for others and that inspiration is closer than we think. We just have to take the time to look for it. More often than not, we don’t even have to stray too far away from our backyard.


Note: Originally written for for the Global Shapers Ottawa Hub and published at

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