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Mayor’s Breakfast May 2023: Fireside Chat with Her Excellency Yuliya Kovaliv, Ambassador of Ukraine

The Mayor’s Breakfast series, hosted by the Ottawa Board of Trade (OBOT) and Ottawa Business Journal (OBJ) brings together Ottawa’s business community to inform and discuss key issues impacting the growth and prosperity of our city. 


Sueling Ching, President and CEO of OBOT welcomed business and community leaders who joined us at the sold-out breakfast. As the voice of business in Ottawa, we are passionate about cultivating a thriving world class business community, one that drives affordable, inclusive, and sustainable city building. To that end, in her remarks, Sueling shared how we have been convening and engaging with stakeholders within our community and at every level of government. Last month OBOT attended the Ontario Chamber of Commerce’s AGM and policy debate and hosted events such as our annual City Building Summit and the popular Women, Wine and Wisdom.


Sueling Ching, President and CEO of OBOT


We were also pleased to support Ottawa is Open along with our partners at Invest Ottawa and Ottawa Tourism, hosted by Canderel in the lobby of newly renovated Constitution Square. Yesterday’s event was a beautiful example of how the business community can come together to animate an unusual space and create vibrancy and raise over $17,000 for the Shepherds of Good Hope.


This month Mayor Mark Sutcliffe was joined by Her Excellency Yuliya Kovaliv, Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada for an inspiring fireside chat. Ahead of their talk Mayor Sutcliffe expressed his admiration of their spirit and emphasized Canada’s steadfast support of Ukraine.


In their discussion, Her Excellency discussed her experience as the Ambassador since arriving in Ottawa just over a year ago. She also thanked residents for the hospitality shown to her, her family, and to the Ukrainians who came to our city. “I never thought I would be an ambassador, it was not in my plan,” she said. “It’s a way to help and serve my country.” She went on to joke that being an ambassador is nothing like the show the Diplomat on Netflix.


Her Excellency Yuliya Kovaliv, Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe


In 2022, only 21% of ambassadors are around the world are women. People are shocked when they find out what her role is. “There’s still a lot of work for everyone to do to empower women to take leadership roles.”


When asked about Kiev, she talked about the resiliency of Ukrainians. Her main message – we cannot stop living. Amidst the ongoing destruction you can find people going shopping or dining out, children are still going to school, and citizens are rebuilding. On her last trip to the city in February while there was no electricity she could hear the sound of hundreds of generators coming from small stores. “The resistance of the businesses is remarkable,” she said. “They said we are not earning any profit but we understand that if we are open people can find a sense of normality.”


The crisis has showed who they are as a people. When Russia invaded, there were countless stories about businesses opening their doors and working to supply people with what they need. There’s a unity and an understanding that each of us can make a difference.


Her Excellency Yuliya Kovaliv, Ambassador of Ukraine to Canada and Mayor Mark Sutcliffe


She went on to talk about how people in Ottawa can help. Humanitarian challenges are still present, for those able to, donate to places such as the Red Cross and Canada-Ukraine Foundation. There are many Ukrainians who have come to Ottawa - mentor them, hire them, and give them opportunities. On behalf of the city, Mayor Sutcliffe announced that a motion would be presented at council to donate an ambulance to Ukraine to help provide emergency medical care.


To close the event, Michael Curran, Publisher of OBJ provided an update provided an update from the media organization, including the announcement of the summer issue of OBJ and a reminder of the upcoming events happening this spring. For more information about the upcoming Welch Business Growth Survey Launch, Forty Under Gala, and the next Mayor's Breakfast, please click here.


Michael Curran, Publisher of OBJ