top 10 shifters


This year we’re back with our end-of-year feature, Top 10 Shifters in the Capital celebrating the accomplishments of cultural, business, sports, non-profit and political influencers in the capital.

“Shifter” is a term we coined for people who use their creativity and influence to impact culture, business and beyond.

Without further adieu, here’s our list of the top influencers who impacted the capital in 2018.

1. ELIJAH WOODS X JAMIE FINE | Recording artists, Winners on CTV’s The Launch


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After being crowned one of the winners of CTV’s The Launch, Ottawa and Perth natives Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine have emerged as the biggest mainstream act to come out of the capital in recent years outside of XO-Roc Nation artist Belly. Aside from being probably the most successful act from the show, their hit song “Ain’t Easy” earned them a number of accolades in 2018. The song entered the Mediabase pop radio airplay chart at #39 earning just over a 1000 spins from December 16 to 22. It also topped the iTunes All Genre chart, was certified platinum in Canada, was at one point the most Shazamed song in Canada, and has over 2 million streams in the United States. They also performed at a number of major events and festivals, including the Calgary Stampede, Canada Day on Parliament Hill, RBC Bluesfest, the iHeart Radio Fanfest, the iHeart Radio Jingle Ball and the iHeart Radio MMVA red carpet. Later in the show walked away with the award for Best New Canadian Artist or Group. Needless to say, Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine have set a new bar for what’s possible for artists and musicians in the capital.

2. BREAKOUT SQUAD | Events and media company


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The Breakout Squad continued to put their stamp on the capital in 2018. After winning the Faces Magazine award for Favourite DJ, DJ Tdot graced the stage at the 2018 edition of the Escapade Music Festival. DJ Fusion, DJ UpAndGone, and Hwayz also made some noise, opening for A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie and SAINt JHN in partnership with DNA Presents and the Carleton University Students’ Association. In February, DJ Tdot and Enock Shikongo, also known as Knocks, converted the former Dodge City location in the Byward Market into arcade shot bar Room 104. Fusion and Tdot followed that up by opening a new 25 and older club, The Hudson, in the former Flybar location on Rideau Street. It was a busy year for the Breakout Squad and they’re sure to continue shaping nightlife and entertainment in the capital in 2019.

Correction: The previous version of this article implied DJ Tdot was the sole founder and director of the Breakout Squad. The company was co-founded by DJ Tdot, DJ Fusion and DJ cRiTiK and is operated as a collective.

3. BRUCE HARVEY | Film commissioner, Ottawa Film Office


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It’s no secret that for years Ottawa has been punching below its weight as a film and television hub. One of the knocks on the city was the lack of a proper sound stage to attract productions to the capital. Well that’s about to change. This past August the Ottawa Film Office announced its plans for a film studio and animation hub on NCC land in partnership with Toronto’s Tribro Studios. The man who made it happen is film commissioner Bruce Harvey. The $40 million production facility would include four soundstages, a back lot, and office space for animation companies. The National Capital Commission recently approved the project and construction may begin as early as Spring 2019.

4. ALEXANDRA BADZAK | Director and CEO, Ottawa Art Gallery


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One of the biggest game changers on the Ottawa arts scene was the April opening of the new Ottawa Art Gallery. Referred to by some visitors as ” like something you’d find in New York”, the space has given the city a sense of pride and a proper place to celebrate local and Canadian art. The Jackson Cafe is also one of the best kept secrets in the city. The person who made this all happen is OAG director and CEO Alexandra Badzak who led the gallery through the expansion after a long process. Since opening the gallery has staged some very cutting edge exhibitions including Karim Rashid: Cultural Shaping.

5. ZAINAB MUSE | CEO of Wingd, Producer of Creatorland, Bluesfest Board of Directors


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Zainab Muse is the living definition of a “Shifter”, influencing culture, business and the non-profit sector in 2018. Muse is arguably the most connected woman in Ottawa. Aside from joining the board at RBC Bluesfest and bringing a much needed Millennial perspective, the Wingd CEO also produced the Creatorland television series profiling entrepreneurs in the capital.

6. MARSHALL CELESTIN | Founder of Never Give Up Clothing


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Ottawa has been slowly racking up fashion wins over the past few years and 2018 was no different. Marshall Celestin, fashion designer and founder of Never Give Up Clothing, also known as NGU, showed at Street Fashion Week in New York, one of the biggest street fashion shows in the world. Celestin’s showing at Street Fashion Week has immediately positioned him as one of the leading designers in the city. NGU also showed at FashionFest Edmonton, Runway for Hope, and Raw Artists Ottawa. Celestin also believes in giving back to the community. Aside from the runway, NGU sponsored two students in his native St. Lucia with financial assistance for the upcoming school term.

7. ROBERT WANG | Inventor of the Instant Pot

Ottawa is a major centre for technology but made-in-Ottawa innovations tend to be of the less sexy variety (the stuff that other stuff runs on). World famous consumer products are usually created in other major cities but that has started to change. One of Ottawa’s latest business success stories is the Amazon bestselling Instant Pot invented by Ottawa’s own Robert Wang. This comes just over 125 years after another Ottawa inventor and entrepreneur, Thomas Ahearn, first patented the electric oven. Wang show us that Ottawa can be the birthplace of buzz worthy consumer products and not just semiconductors and 5G networks.

8. PROSPER LAGUERRE | Recording artist, In-arena DJ for the Ottawa Senators


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After complications with Lupus that almost claimed his life, Patrick Laguerre, also known as Prosper or DJ Prosper, rebounded to have a big year. After being asked last minute to DJ and hype up the crowd at an Elijah Woods x Jamie Fine concert, he was asked by executives of the Ottawa Senators, who happened to be in the crowd that night, to do the same during an upcoming Sens game. The Canadian Tire Centre crowd noticed and soon Prosper was trending locally on Twitter. With his near death experience in the rear view mirror, DJ Prosper continues to spin and get the crowd going at Ottawa Senators games, and has help rejuvenate the in-arena experience. Later this year, he also released his latest single “Famous”, launching the #Makehimfamous challenge where he left a part of the song blank and invited other artists to help him finish the song by submitting 16 bars. Prosper has received submissions from cities like New York and is scheduled to release the song in early 2019.

9. AMIR ZARGARA | Founder/ Designer, Zargara and Babes & Gents


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In 2018, the Zargara and Babes & Gents founder and designer left his Byward Market store and headed to France for his first Paris pop-up, a rare feat for an Ottawa designer. Amir Zargara also continued to position his store as the place for major artists to stop and pick up a few pieces when visiting the capital. In 2018, Zargara has been visited by the likes of A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Yung Tory, Grandtheft and LocoCity.

10. OLIVIER HANLAN | Professional basketball player, NBA G League champ

(photo credit: Austin Spurs)

Aylmer native Olivier Hanlan is probably the biggest basketball prospect to ever come out of the capital region. Last April, Hanlan was a key member of the NBA G League champion Austin Spurs who defeated the Raptors 905 in the championship game. Although he was eventually waived by the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs just days after being signed to a training camp contract, the now Bundesliga player has at least shown the NBA isn’t out of reach for players from the capital.