A ‘powerful, inspiring,
energizing evening’

Last year, the team at Refugee 613 had some questions. What holds people back from connecting with people we don’t know, and what propels us forward? Why do some people invest time and energy in helping strangers and others don't? Would it make a difference if we heard how others have done it — how they found their way to reach out and have impact on their community?

The result was The Kindness of Strangers, an evening of short, powerful talks about building community, in ways big and small. We were blown away by just how powerful and inspiring it was to tap into this theme. And we weren’t the only ones.

Many who attended told us it ignited a new spark for them, while others said it recharged their batteries at just the right time. They urged us to do it again, so we are!

Please join us on Tuesday, June 25 at 7 pm to hear five ordinary and amazing people tell their stories of connection, compassion and building a better world.

“The Kindness of Strangers is an extraordinary evening, like no other I've been involved in,” says broadcaster and entrepreneur Mark Sutcliffe, who is returning as the evening’s MC and honorary chair. “It's powerful, inspiring, energizing, stimulating, humbling and thought-provoking. It was remarkable to see so many people gathered to think about how kindness impacts the lives of others, from extraordinary generosity to everyday gestures. I think everyone came away with a fresh perspective on how each of us can make a difference, and a renewed desire to do so.”

This year’s stellar lineup of speakers includes:

  • author and former governor general Rt Hon David Johnston will talk about Canada’s social landscape and how to restore personal, community and national trust in a turbulent time.
  • Bernadette Clement will talk about overcoming doubts — her own and those of others — to seek a leadership role in her community. Bernadette was elected mayor of Cornwall in the fall of 2018, becoming that city’s first woman, first person of colour and first francophone to be elected mayor.
  • Hassan Al Kontar, the "man at the airport" who was stranded in a Malaysian airport for seven months, will share his story of how social media opened the door to life-changing kindness from complete strangers.
  • Poet Ketty Nivyabandi will share her observations of everyday acts of kindness changing lives.
  • Branding strategist Thomas Coombes, most recently the global head of brand and deputy director of communications at Amnesty International, will speak about overcoming polarization and political division by maximizing the potent force of hope

Proceeds from the evening will support Refugee 613's work building a stronger Ottawa through community mobilization and connection. A tax receipt will be issued for a portion of each ticket.

To learn more about this June 25 event, see our Eventbrite page. If you can’t make it, consider our Pay It Forward option, which allows you to buy tickets for others who would not otherwise be able to attend.

We hope to see you there!

The Refugee 613 Team