Annual Steel Toes & Stilettos Gala raises $120K for Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa

Organization celebrates affordable homeownership with sponsors, donors and volunteers

Single working mother Annie Aningmiuq tried saving enough money for a down payment on a home for her and her son. But, as is often the case, life kept getting in the way.

"I've had to use the money for other things," she told OBJ.social in the days leading up to Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes & Stilettos "Full Moon Gala."

Some 370 attendees, including Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson and Mayor Jim Watson, gathered Saturday in the Trillium Ballroom of the Shaw Centre to raise $120,000 for Habitat for Humanity GO. For the past 24 years, the non-profit organization has been working with its community partners, donors and volunteers to build decent and affordable housing for low-income families.

Steel Toes & Stilettos
From left, Rahul Kochar, vice-president with Phoenix Homes, and his wife, Simran, with Melinda Karlsson and Erik Karlsson at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes and Stilettos “Full Moon” Gala, held at the Shaw Centre on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Returning as presenting sponsor was Laurin General Contractor, owned by Dennis Laurin. He agreed to donate a further $5,000 if the room could collectively match that number before the night was over. It did.

Steel Toes & Stilettos
Dennis Laurin owner of Laurin General Contractor with his wife Andrea at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes and Stilettos “Full Moon” Gala, held at the Shaw Centre on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Guests heard how construction is underway on Phase 1 of Habitat's largest development to date, Leacross Landing in Orléans. It's building townhomes over the next three years to serve 16 families, including Aningmiuq and her four-year-old son Hunter. 

They are currently renting a small room in a house but will move into an interest-free mortgaged, three-bedroom townhome of their own. Her little guy will get his own bedroom (painted blue, he’s already decided).

“I keep imagining what pictures are going to go on the walls,” Aningmiuq told OBJ.social.

Steel Toes & Stilettos
Annie Aningmiuq  at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes and Stilettos “Full Moon” Gala, held at the Shaw Centre on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Aningmiuq has agreed to donate 350 hours of her time to the organization by either volunteering at a ReStore location, at Habitat for Humanity events or at the construction site.

She thanked all the supporters, both in English and Inuktitut, on stage, while expressing her sincere gratitude.

“Every single person has already had such a positive impact on me, from their kindness when working with me to prepare for our future home, to the patience that is given to me when teaching me how to operate an electric tool,” said Aningmiuq. “I’m extremely proud to be here today, in person, to say thank you to everyone supporting this program.”

The audience was treated to a traditional Inuit throat-singing performance by Aningmiuq and Cynthia Pitsiulak.

Aningmiuq came to Ottawa to go to college, leaving behind her small Inuit community of Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, Nunavut. She now works full-time as an engagement coordinator for the Community Foundations Of Canada.

It’s expensive, however, for her to provide a lifestyle for her and her son that is healthy, active and, in particular, tied to their Inuit culture. Just to fly home to visit friends and family costs $2,000 per plane ticket.

On hand that night was Habitat for Humanity GO’s CEO, Alexis Ashworth, and board chair, Bob Ridley, past president of the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association.

Steel Toes & Stilettos
Alexis Ashworth, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa, with Bob Ridley, chair of its board of directors, at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes and Stilettos “Full Moon” Gala, held at the Shaw Centre on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

It was a pleasant surprise to see Ray Bassett, Ireland’s former ambassador to Canada, there with his wife, Patricia. They came to Ottawa to spend time with their friend Pat Kelly, a big-hearted Irish-Canadian Ottawa businessman who co-owns Bradley Kelly Construction and the Heart & Crown Irish Pubs. Sadly, he lost his wife Laurie this past summer, while they were visiting family in Ireland.

Also seen were board vice-chair and gala committee member Richard Lauzon from BMO, fellow board member Janice Menezes, chief financial officer for Lockheed Martin Canada, and members of Ottawa's commercial and real estate development industry.

The dinner included auction items and prizes, as well as live entertainment throughout the night.

Steel Toes & Stilettos
Richard Lauzon, from BMO Private Banking, with Bonnie McLeod at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes and Stilettos “Full Moon” Gala, held at the Shaw Centre on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips
Steel Toes & Stilettos
From left, Stew Waton, senior construction manager at Trinity Development Group, and Beata Kuchciak, with Michael MacIsaac and Mariette MacIsaac, manager of the Trinity Development Foundation, at Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa’s Steel Toes and Stilettos “Full Moon” Gala, held at the Shaw Centre on Saturday, November 4, 2017. Photo by Caroline Phillips

caroline@obj.ca