The 2014 Human Library is coming soon! Keep checking our website regularly for updates.
Read up on what happened last year:
Talk to people one-on-one about their diverse experiences.
- An individual accepts to take part in the event as a Book
- Book reservations for specific time slots will be available the day of the event, at each site
- Books get "checked out" for 20 minutes by a Reader
- Readers can register for only 1 book at a time. First come, first served.
Launched in Denmark in 2000, the Human Library was a way to focus on anti-violence, encourage dialogue and build relations. It has grown in popularity with 27 countries taking part in 2008, including Brazil, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Malaysia and South Africa.
Human Library in Ottawa
The Ottawa Public Library is holding this event in partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Ottawa (CBC Ottawa).
This program is designed for an adult audience and will be taking place in the adult areas of the participating branches. Children are welcome in the Library, but are not encouraged to participate in the Human Library without the presence and consent of their parents.
This program is not a career fair.
- The Reader must be respectful in his or her questions and conversation with the Book.
- The Reader accepts the fact that the Book can quit the conversation if he or she feels that the Reader treats him or her in an inappropriate or disrespectful manner.
- The loan period is for 20 minutes.
- The Reader must not record (audio or written), videotape or take pictures of the Book.
- The Reader is not allowed to ask the Book for personal contact information.
- The Reader must not seek professional counsel during the conversation.
Alta Vista, 2516 Alta Vista
|Person living with bipolar||Claude Lurette's cocaine addiction led him to lose his family, friends and job. And it literally took an earthquake to convince him to get sober and manage his bi-polar condition. Languages: English and French|
|Chef||In 1967, Luke Campbell left Jamaica to train as a chef at Algonquin College. After graduation he worked for several hotels, but figured his black skin got in the way of advancement. He wound up knocking on the doors of several embassies to offer his catering services. Soon, he began catering for diplomats, senators, and even prime ministers. These days he is often credited with bringing Jamaican cuisine to Ottawa. Language: English||Chef|
|Recovering compulsive gambler||When his parents fought at home, Ken played pinball at the corner store to escape. As he got older, he gambled to escape reality until he was on the verge of losing his house and family. Ten years ago, he headed to his cottage with the intention of ending his life, but an unlikely knock on the door became one of the catalysts that set Ken on the road to recovery. Language: English|
|Firefighter||Sue Jones comes from a family of police officers and she always thought she would be one, too. But she changed her mind after she spotted a recruitment poster for the Ottawa Fire Services featuring a female firefighter. Sue has been extinguishing fires for the past six years. Language: English||Firefighter|
|Mother of eight||During her first year of law school, Veronique Bergeron was shocked to see the little blue line appear on the pregnancy test she took. Despite warnings from some of her peers that an infant might destroy her professional aspirations, she and her partner decided to have the baby. Now, 17 years later, their family has grown to include eight kids, most recently, a set of twins. Language: French and English||Mother of eight|
|CBC newscaster||Laurence Wall was so keen to work at CBC that he quit a full time job as a newspaper reporter to take a short term contract in the Winnipeg newsroom back in 1979. Only a short time later, he was sent to report on the story of his old newspaper closing down. Since he started with the corporation, Laurence has worked in Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Fredericton and Ottawa where he prepares and delivers newscasts each weekday afternoon. Language: English||CBC newscaster|
Hazeldean, 50 Castlefrank
A doctor diagnosed Theresa Dupuis with acute glaucoma just before Christmas 1990. He told her she'd go blind within 10 years. Theresa now considers her vision loss as a gift and swears she wouldn't take her sight back if offered to her. The octogenarian loves cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, kayaking, yoga and meditation. Languages: English and French
|OC Transpo bus driver||Carl Burkett used to work in marketing at a Crown Corporation. At 45 he took a buyout to help start a new direct marketing business and five years later, on a whim, he decided to apply to OC Transpo. He's been behind the wheel of a bus for a decade. Language: English||Bus driver|
|Heritage breed farmer||As a teen, Laurie Maus tossed aside the teen magazines in favour of the Holstein Friesian Journal. Her family has farmed since the 1750s. And after a career in the public service and beyond, Maus returned to the land to start-up Hawk Hill Farm in North Glengarry Township. Language: English||Heritage breed farmer|
|Police officer||As a boy, Jeffrey Eva-Gonzalez's family moved to Canada to escape political persecution in Nicaragua. Here in Ottawa, a police officer shot his gang-involved eldest brother after he failed to put down his knife. Eva-Gonzalez lost a second brother to violence when a stranger attacked him with a knife on a escalator at Bayshore Shopping Centre. Now, Constable Eva-Gonzalez works for the Ottawa Police's D.A.R.T. unit, monitoring whether gang members follow court-ordered conditions. Languages: English, Spanish||Police officer|
|Drag queen||Eleven years ago, Zelda Marshall first stepped onto a stage wearing high heels, a wig and make-up. Now, she's affectionately known as a grandmother in the Ottawa drag scene. Zelda volunteers with the GLBT Liaison Committee of the Ottawa Police. Language: English||Drag queen|
|CBC radio host||Robyn Bresnahan is the host of CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning, the city's #1 morning show. She got her start at the CBC but has worked most recently for the BBC World Service in London making documentaries and hosting a variety of programs. Robyn has covered stories in locations around the world, including Paris, the Ivory Coast and Louisiana, which she visited after the recent oil spill. Languages: English and French||CBC radio host|
Main Library, 120 Metcalfe
Kauthar Mohamed is a restauranteur who helped found the local group Voices of Muslim Youth. Through VOMY, Kauthar organizes town hall meetings ranging from mental health to election engagement that aim to develop youth leaders in the Muslim community. Languages: English, French and Somali
|By-law officer||Abdulkadar Mohamed Dualeh works for the City of Ottawa in parking enforcement. He is known for intervening when he hears a cry for help on the streets. Recently he won a Community Safety Award from Crime Prevention Ottawa for helping people while he was on the job. This year alone, he apprehended a man who assaulted and mugged a young mother, broke up a vicious assault in the Byward Market and ran onto the Queensway to stop a woman who was trying to kill herself. Language: French, English||By-law officer|
|Family physician||As a young girl in Iran, Parisa Rezaiefar ran an imaginary medical clinic with her sister. She sought asylum in Canada in her 20s and against the odds, put herself through medical school. Now, she has a family practice at Bruyere Academic Family Health Organization where she mentors medical residents on respecting patient diversity. Language: English, French and Persian||Family physician|
|Former gang member||When he was 13 Marc Clairoux joined a skinhead gang at his school. During the 17 years he spent with that gang, he became one of its chief recruiters. After the death of several friends and serving three years in prison for a series of assaults, Marc left gang life. Now as a volunteer, he's begun sharing his personal story with youth-at-risk. Language: English||Gang member|
|Drug user||After a traumatic childhood, Sean LeBlanc moved to the east-coast to go to university. When his pregnant partner drowned, Sean turned to drugs for solace. He spent seven years dependant on drugs. Now he's weaning himself off heroin through a methadone program. Sean is the chair of an Ottawa non-profit group that advocates for harm reduction and the education of drug users. Language: English||Drug user|
|Imam||As a boy, Mohamad Jebara committed the entire Qur`an and many Classical manuscripts to memory. Today he is Ottawa's only Canadian-raised Imam and the author of dozens of books. Mohamad is the founder and headmaster of Cordova Academy and Andalusia College. In December 2012, he was ordained the official representative of the Canadian Council of Imams for the Canadian Capital Region. Language: English, Arabic||Imam|
|Developer||Doug Casey graduated from university with a degree in business, but after he and his wife renovated a couple of houses in the Glebe as a side-project, he decided to start his own development company. For more than 25 years, his firm Charlesfort Developments has specialized in urban infill projects that range from townhouses to condo towers. Language: English||Real estate developer|
|Anarchist||Since the late 1990s, Dan Sawyer has helped organize many direct-action campaigns in Ottawa and beyond. They include squatting in a vacant house on Gilmour Street, running special diet clinics for people on social assistance, handing out Hurricane Katrina relief items in New Orleans, and marching through the streets of Ottawa during Take The Capital. Language: English||Anarchist|
|HIV positive||Grant Cobb has been living with HIV for 17 years. For the first decade, he kept his status mostly private. But he came to accept his HIV after going to counselling at the Ottawa AIDS Committee. Now he works there, helping people who are HIV-positive learn to survive and thrive. Languages: English and American Sign Language||Living HIV positive|
|Police officer||It was a brief brush with the law at the age of 10 that inspired Staff Sergeant Kal Ghadban to join the police. Over the years he's worked on patrol, as a homicide detective, and now as the Staff Sergeant of the Street Crime Unit / Break & Enter Team. Language: English||Police officer|
|Chinese adoptee||During elementary school, Maryfrances Carton tried to avoid questions from classmates about where she born. She only knew someone had abandoned her in a market in China when she was six months old. By the time she was one, an Ottawa family adopted her into their family. She's since returned to China twice, and even visited the orphanage that was briefly her home. Language: English||Chinese adoptee in Canada|
|Criminal court judge||Thanks to guidance from a couple of his teachers, Hugh Fraser excelled in both academics and sports at Lisgar Collegiate. After high school, he competed for the Canadian National Track & Field Team, representing Canada at the 1976 Montreal Olympics. After 14 years as a lawyer, with an emphasis on Human Rights, the province appointed him to the Ontario Court of Justice. This year marks Justice Fraser's 20th anniversary on the bench. Language: English||Criminal court judge|
|Urban Inuk||Growing up in Alberta and Ontario, Lynda Brown sometimes hid her Inuk identity. But after moving to Ottawa and starting a family of her own, she now teaches kids and families at the Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre to be proud of who they are. Language: English||Urban Inuk|
|CBC Radio Host/Producer||Amanda Putz started at CBC 13 years ago in the archives in Toronto. She quickly moved to work in television on Newsworld and on the show Play with Jian Ghomeshi. She helped launch the well-loved radio show FUSE in Ottawa and even spent a year working in Hong Kong at RTHK (Radio Television Hong Kong). Currently, Amanda is the host and producer of the provincial music show Bandwidth. Language: English||CBC newscaster|
North Gloucester, 2036 Ogilvie
Born in Nicaragua, Martha Chaves survived both the Managua Earthquake and the start of the Sandinista Revolution. Her parents sent her to Canada as a political refugee. Since then she's felt uprooted, cold and confused about her identity, which she figures makes her a true Canadian citizen. She tours the country as a headliner for Yuk Yuk's Comedy Club and this year celebrates 20 years in stand-up comedy. Languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian
|Mixed Martial Arts fighter||Nick Denis a.k.a. "The Ninja of Love" has won three King of the Cage titles, and competed in Japan at the Sengoku Championship. He dropped out of his final year of his PHD in biochemistry to pursue MMA full-time. He landed a five-fight contract with the UFC. Recently, after two fights, he decided to retire from the sport because of his concerns about potential brain damage. Language: English||MMA|
|War veteran||In 2007, while patrolling a farmer's field in Afghanistan as a sniper team leader, Master Corporal Jody Mitic stepped on a landmine. The explosions blew off his foot, and injured his other leg, making a double amputation necessary. After returning to Canada for rehabilitation, Jody reconnected with one of the medics who came to his aid. Now the couple has two children. Language: English||War veteran|
|Defence lawyer||For more than 20 years Mark Ertel has defended people charged with everything from shoplifting to murder at the Ottawa Courthouse. Language: English||Defence lawyer|
|Paramedic||When she was in her mid-twenties, Chantale Dumas decided to ditch her cubicle job and climb behind the wheel of an ambulance. Now her job involves doing such things as pulling over at an accident scene on the Queensway and then crawling under an upside-down pick-up truck to pull a patient to safety. Chantale has seven years of experience as a primary care paramedic. Languages: English and French||Paramedic|
|Radio host and reporter||Although Giacomo Panico was a huge news fan when he was a boy, he chose to study mechanical engineering at university. But he still had the news bug. After learning the radio ropes at CKCU, he visited a CBC Ottawa story meeting. His story pitch was so good that it landed him on radio newscasts across Canada. Now Giacomo is a radio reporter with CBC Ottawa and the host of In Town and Out. Language: English, French||CBC newscaster|
Ruth E. Dickinson, 100 Malvern
|High school teacher||
Growing up in Ottawa, Adrienne Coddett got used to being one of the only black students in her school. It wasn't until she attended the predominantly black Howard University that she felt a sense of belonging in a classroom. Now she teaches Law and Social Sciences, and through her community organization 3 Dreads and a Bald Head, she puts on the annual Black Youth Conference. Language: English
|Hunter||Barry Turner grew up in Ottawa catching pike and shooting groundhogs at Green's Creek. After university, he landed a volunteer job as Game Warden in Tanzania. That's where he hunted big game such as elephant, Cape buffalo and gazelle. After returning to Canada he served as a Member of Parliament in the 'jungle' of Parliament Hill. These days during hunting season, he can be found on his property tracking deer, grouse, wild turkey and geese. Language: English||Hunter|
|Sex worker||Lindsay does indoor sex work. She specializes in clients with disabilities. She's also vice-chair of a local sex worker advocacy group. Language: English||Sex worker|
|CBC video-journalist||Roger Dubois' first job at CBC was setting up for big TV broadcasts featuring poltical heavyweights like Trudeau and Levesque. Since then he has worked as a cameraman for Hockey Night in Canada and traveled the country with CBC National Sports and the program On the Road Again. Now he is a video journalist for CBC Ottawa where, a day after his 35th anniversary with the corporation, he rappelled down the side of a building with a camera on his shoulder for a TV news story. Lanugage: English, French||CBC video-journalist|
|Algonquin spiritual advisor||For many years, Albert Dumont struggled with an alcohol addiction. But in 1989, after watching a grieving mother confront an impaired driver at the Ottawa Courthouse, he began his road to sobriety. Dumont, a poet, now works as a spiritual advisor for Aboriginal offenders in the Maximum Security Unit of a federal prison. Language: English||Algonquin spiritual healer|
|Taxi driver||Tony Hajjar has been behind the wheel of a taxi for more than 30 years. His road stories include encounters with everyone from prime ministers to Monica Lewinsky. Language: English||Taxi driver|