His Approach

An outstanding advocate for Ottawa history and heritage, John J. Heney received [The City of Ottawa Distinguished Service Award]. His concrete accomplishments are underpinned by John’s remarkable ability to attract others to his cause, to work together with existing authorities at all levels, and create new coalitions wherever needed.

Ottawa City Councillor Gord Hunter

John tends toward the practical and the welcoming, seasoning this with humour and wonderment, not only about people but about what they do, why, and how they go about their busy-ness. His interest is multi-dimensional. He’s intrigued by what people have been through, what and who they know, and what they’re passionate about.

He’s a profound listener, diving deep to address wider issues. He’s respectful of backgrounds, experience, and how points of view came into being. He believes we’re each more than we can possibly see, our stories simultaneously unique and universal.

Interactions he has enjoyed across cultures, roles and professions have heightened his wonder at the human experience. It’s been reinforced by his work across many forms of communication. So it was perhaps no surprise that — when felled by a sudden and complex series of neurological challenges — he applied his fate as a launch into the study of interaction of even more dimensions.

John Heney

Photo courtesy of Patrick Dolan.

If asked about his principles, he might mention

  • Whatever your fate, you are fascinating and worthwhile, until proven otherwise
  • Underneath, the vast majority of people seek the same core elements
  • Wants can create joy . . . and problems; wants tighten, service expands
  • Fundamentally, we ought to target stupidity before anything else
  • Uplifting engagement fosters the same
  • Projects ought to demonstrate process, not the other way around
  • Getting there is half the fun
  • People of any age have gifts and talents waiting to blossom
  • Youngsters get it, but often have it grabbed away
  • We’ll befriend ecology when we realize we’re part of it, and always have been
  • The atmosphere can be on the lookout for inspiration and liberation just as much as the people who populate it
  • People thrive on buddyhood which, if absent, creates cliques, division and false senses of exclusiveness
  • People love permission to be free; external examples are attractive but we shouldn’t merely wait for them
  • It is easier to bring love and joy than to seek it

… and more.