Light up the Night for Bruyère heads to 50 Sussex for fireworks

Stunning evening showcases new tech tools designed to help elderly patients ease effects of aging

Editor's Note

OBJ.Social is supported by the generous patronage of Mark MotorsBruyère FoundationMarilyn Wilson Dream Properties and Sparks Dental. Read their stories here.

It may be the oldest hospital, with the oldest patients, but Bruyère Continuing Care is out to change the future of aging with new and innovative technologies.

“People really want to be healthy when they’re older,” Heidi Sveistrup, CEO and chief scientific officer of the Bruyère Research Institute, told “They don’t want to just sit in a rocker and feel like their life has been written off.”

Sveistrup, who’s also a long-time professor in the School of Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ottawa, was one of about 250 people to attend a chic benefit for Bruyère this past Saturday night. It was held at 50 Sussex, a hot new event space overlooking the Ottawa River and Rideau River Falls. It’s also headquarters for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. 

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The perfect summer evening of drinks, food and live entertainment culminated with the grand finale of the Casino du Lac-Leamy Sound of Light annual international fireworks competition. 


On hand were Peggy Taillon, president and CEO of the Bruyère Foundation, and the chair of its board of directors, commercial real estate lawyer Danny Fernandes. Joining them was Sally Douglas, principal of operations at public affairs firm Earnscliffe Strategy Group and former deputy publisher of iPolitics.

Douglas is chair of the board for the Bruyère Research Institute. The role is her way of giving back to a Canadian health care system that saved her husband’s life four years ago. Her husband, Kenny Douglas, underwent a double-lung transplant in Toronto. His lungs had been damaged during his military service in the first Gulf War and Bosnia.

“Because of research and the evolution of health care, he’s alive and kicking and doing well,” she told “If he had the same surgery five years prior to the date that he had it, he would have been in a lot of more trouble.”


The second annual Light up the Night for Bruyère was able to build on the success of last year’s inaugural fundraiser, held at the private home of Ottawa businessman Aik Aliferis. The party may have changed venues this year but the cigars were back, with ample outdoor patio space for chomping on a stogie. Guests, who were encouraged to wear red, also took in comedy and a fire-breathing performance prior to the fireworks show.


Attendees included: Dr. Phil Wells, chair and chief of the Department of Medicine at The Ottawa Hospital and the University of Ottawa, philanthropist Shirley Greenberg, Emond Harnden LLP chief operating officer Antoinette Strazza, DCR/Phoenix Group founder and CEO Cuckoo Kochar, former Bruyère Foundation board chair Dave Ready, RBC regional president Marjolaine Hudon, Mann Lawyers senior partner André Martin, and Karen Wood, producer of the Broadway for Bruyère: Come from Away Gala happening this Thursday. It will feature a pre-show kitchen party, tickets to the Broadway musical at the National Arts Centre, and a post-show party with live Celtic music and dancing.

In the “long time, no see” category was Rosemarie Leclair. The one-time head of Hydro Ottawa recently retired as chair and CEO of the Ontario Energy Board. She and her wife, Joan Weinman, have just moved back to town, settling in the Wellington West neighbourhood.


Bruyère, founded in 1845, is Ottawa’s first and oldest hospital. Today, the health care organization has 731 beds and more than 2,000 staff working across three sites in the city. It focuses on helping patients who require complex care and rehabilitation, geriatrics and palliative care.

“We may be the oldest but we’re actually one of the most innovative,” Taillon told

Last year, for example, Bruyère launched a new private-public partnership with FCi involving wearable tech that helps aging folks live actively and independently, while providing caregivers peace of mind.

During Light up the Night, staff took the opportunity to showcase some of the new tech tools designed to help elderly patients combat the effects of aging. NeuroTracker, which is a video game that features bouncing balls, helps to sharpen cognitive skills while the whack-a-mole tablet game helps to test memory (disclaimer: no actual moles were assaulted in my playing of this game).



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