At the official Closing Ceremony, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson wished about 1,300 delegates from 196 countries a safe trip home. “We hope you go home from Ottawa with lasting memories and friendships,” Mayor Watson said. But though he wished delegates farewell, Mayor Watson invited everyone to come back to Ottawa for 2017; Canada’s 150th anniversary year. “We want Canada’s Capital to be a window to Canada’s 150th birthday,” he said. Mayor Watson then passed on the OYW baton to Bogotá, Colombia, who will be the summit host for 2017.
Prior to accepting the baton however, performers from Colombia treated OYW delegates and observers to a lively display of Colombian culture with traditional music, colourful dancers and more. The Bogotá summit is scheduled to take place from Oct. 4-7, 2017.
One of the Closing Ceremony’s highlights was a performance by international Hip Hop artist and award-winning peace activist Emmanuel Jal, who sang his song entitled ‘We Want Peace.’ Now a One Young World Counsellor, artist and activist, Jal was born into the life of a child soldier in South Sudan. He remained in this war-torn life until he was rescued by a British aid worker.
At the Closing Ceremony, Jal encouraged the crowd of young leaders to forgive those that they may currently have conflict with. “If you’re angry with someone, just forgive. Just let it go,” Jal said. “If you stay mad at them, you become their prisoner.” He also encouraged young leaders to go out and make the world a better place. “Always make the next person you meet ten times happier than when you found them,” he said.
Another ceremony highlight was an appearance by legendary award-winning artist Cher, who said jokingly: “I wish I had known there was singing. I would’ve brought some music.”
A One Young World 2016 Counsellor, Cher used the summit in Ottawa to make young leaders aware of the plight of animals, particularly the plight of elephants. “People might think, ‘Wow, she’s like a crazy cat lady with all of her animals,’” Cher said at the ceremony. “But this is very important to me.”
Cher then encouraged delegates and observers to think about how what they might want or like – for example, bacon – and how that item may affect an animal’s life. “How much do we want something that we’ll have it even when it causes pain to something else?” she asked.
The Closing Ceremony followed a busy four-day summit that saw delegates attend interesting sessions with speakers such as Emma Watson and Community Dinners with local companies and families, among other activities. And, based on the traffic on the OYWOttawa social media pages, delegates enjoyed their time in the city as many sent thank you messages to Ottawa afterwards.
Siwapiwe Madubela from Johannesburg, South Africa tweeted: “Thank you so much Ottawa! I will be back. SA, see you soon.” On Instagram, @vaibharar said: “OYW bids adieu to Ottawa! The “Kind Canada” was a perfect host :-)” Even Emma Watson herself extended a thank you to Ottawa, posting to Instagram on the morning of Oct. 3: “Thank you for having me, Ottawa. Had such a wonderful time in your beautiful city.”
Michael Crockatt, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, said the OYW Summit was the largest ever undertaking by Ottawa Tourism.
“Our staff outdid themselves in preparing and executing the event; from securing permission to host the Opening Ceremony on Parliament Hill, to organizing breakout sessions with dozens of local partners, to feeding 1,300 delegates in a series of community dinners,” Crockatt said. “The logistical challenges were immense, but were successfully tackled.”
Crockatt said the entire Ottawa community came together like never before “to give One Young World delegates incredible memories of visiting Canada’s Capital, just on the eve of our celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday in 2017.” He added: “We hope to see many of the delegates (and their friends and families) return next year!”
The run, which was organized by Canadian OYW Ambassador and Ottawa Tourism staffer Katie Dolan in collaboration with Run Ottawa, saw about 140 delegates participate along with various local community members.
On the summit’s closing day, Dolan noted that The Home Run had gone “really well.” According to Run Ottawa, Dolan said, The Home Run had the most countries EVER represented in a running event in Ottawa. “There were even more [countries] than Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend,” Dolan said. Each May, Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend sees more than 40,000 runners compete in various events, including the grueling Ottawa Marathon.
At the end of the Closing Ceremony, all the delegates became OYW Ambassadors by writing their future hopes and goals on a white ribbon. The ribbons were then joined together, becoming part of One Young World’s ribbon ball that contains all the hopes and dreams of delegates since the first ever OYW Summit.
Upon the summit’s official end, OYW Co-Founder Kate Robertson told delegates: “You are all our hope. Where you lead, we will follow.”