Friday, March 25, 2022

The Ottawan



Meet Colleen Kanna, the Ottawa designer creating stylish and sustainable pieces for women who need easy-to-wear clothing

Cokanna, the Ottawa fashion brand that believes comfort can coexist alongside style, has been dressing mature women and cancer survivors for over five years. Cokann’s founder, the warm and engaging Colleen Kanna had always been fascinated by fashion, but that interest took a back seat to a career in finance. In 2010 she entered a challenging stage of life when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and she started down the path to recovery. When she was given the all clear at the end of 2011, Kanna started back to work on a part time basis, and she began to explore ways that her original passion could become a business. I recently spoke to Colleen Kanna about her business journey over Zoom.

During her research and planning phase Kanna decided that her collections would have to be easy to wear. In her own recovery she had struggled with tops that required raising her arms, and she knew this was a problem for older people as well. “I think my customer is looking for comfort,” she says. “ I cater towards an older customer, I think you get to that age, I know I have, where comfort is just as important as style. Like you still want to look nice, and pulled together, but you definitely want to be comfortable doing it.” 

Kanna knew that there were gaps in her knowledge, and she looked to the fashion community for help. She took courses offered by Fanshawe College and Invest Ottawa, which was also where she was paired with a mentor who advised her to contract out the tasks that she did not have skills to complete herself. “I didn’t want to go back to school to learn pattern making, “ she says, “I didn’t feel that I had the time to do that at my age.” 

She searched for pattern makers, sewers, and manufacturers to help her build her dream. “I contacted Algonquin College and then Richard Robinson, asking to be put in touch with pattern makers.” She also contacted the Toronto Fashion Incubator, from whom she purchased a list of contractors. “I remember I just kept calling people on that list. I narrowed it down to a few, and went to visit them. It was a lot of leg work.” Kanna says most of the people she met early on were really helpful. 

Each call she made led to another contact, and eventually she collaborated with Twiss and Weber, the Ottawa area designers (who also had a retail outlet on Sussex Drive, which subsequently closed during the pandemic). “I met with them, they were so much fun and so helpful to me. I was so green. I knew nothing! I brought them my drawings and samples of clothes that I liked, and they made me my very first sample.” 

During her meetings with manufacturers, Kanna discovered that her responsibilities ranged from purchasing her fabric, to creating her own sizing, and in some cases even sourcing (and buying) her own thread. She says it’s still a constant learning experience. 

Since starting her company Kanna has worked with a number of manufacturers. After using a contractor based in Toronto, Kanna now has her collections produced by The Bobbins Production Studio here in Ottawa. 

From the start, Kanna used her experience with Breast Cancer to direct her designs. She created a zip top that someone recovering from cancer could fasten. She also ran workshops with cancer patients, using their feedback to design pieces that were easy to wear and to care for. She was an early adopter of bamboo fabric, which she says is “forgiving and thermal regulating" as well as sustainable. 

While Kanna formerly participated in craft markets, the pandemic resulted in an upsurge of online sales for her brand as well as an expansion of her customer base. The digital world has also created the opportunity for Kanna transition her coffee and shopping events, which she had previously held in her home studio, to online Zoom experiences. Community is just as important to Kanna as her fashion line; in her Online Coffee Shops her customers and a wider group of women come together for conversation and to learn about a variety of topics. 

It’s this love of community and a passion for the plight of aging Canadians that fuel Kanna’s plans for the future. She envisions a retail, meeting, and living space where older people can live and shop, and be in their own community. 

“You know, our system is so broken in that way and for sure the pandemic really brought that to light. It just breaks my heart when i hear about people in long term care, cut off from their families, not getting the proper care. Something has to change, and you know, government, I don’t see anything happening any time soon that would make a difference. So I think as communities, we have to think of our own solutions and that’s one of the things that I would like to do in getting the space. 

“That could be a space with a few living spaces for myself, for my sister, and other people that are older and we create our own little community. We look out for each other. And if a pandemic happened we would be our own bubble.”

If anyone can bring a new vision for aging communities to life, it’s the passionate and determined Colleen Kanna. 

Martha Gall

We'll see you Monday – Martha and Darren

? Is there something that Ottawa should know about? Email to us at We read every single comment.


Weather: ?️ 40% chance of showers. High of 9°, low of 0°. 

Number: 13. The number of people in the first class of graduates from the Ottawa Mission's Rideau Bakery food services training programme. The programme provides free training to newcomers and people whose housing is at risk in the skills demanded by restaurants, caterers and retirement homes. [CTV]

Ottawan of the Day: Collinda Joseph. With her non-Ottawan teammates, Joseph brought home a Bronze for wheelchair curling at the Paralympics in Beijing. [CBC]

Quote: ‘If varenyky are not pinched properly, they open up in the boiling water and we get to eat them. But we prefer perfect varenyky’ – Nadia Zelem, one the the many volunteers who made perogies at at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral to raise money for the Canadian Ukrainian Foundation. [Ottawa Citizen] [Donations]

Sports: NHL Ottawa Senators 5 – Winnipeg Jets 2, last night

   ""    ""   


Information is as of this morning. Changes are relative to yesterday.


hospitalizationschangein icuchange
667? 6161

? -4

1,148,336? 2,76112,388 ? 15
? Eligible people vaccinated with one dose (5+)89.6% 
? Eligible people vaccinated with two doses (5+)


? All people in Ontario with third dose48.2%

Ontario COVID Page    Ontario Vaccine Rates 


hospitalizationschangein icuchange
1,048? -1459? -2
953,498? 2,20314,300 ? 12
? Eligible people vaccinated with one dose (5+)91.5%
? Eligible people vaccinated with two doses (5+)87%
? All people in Quebec with third dose49.7%

Quebec COVID Page     Quebec Vaccine Rates


hospitalizationschangein icuchange
10? 11? 0
cases changedeaths

760 ? 0

? Eligible people vaccinated with one dose (5+)

914,249 (92%)
? Eligible people vaccinated with two doses (5+)876,057 (88%)
? Eligible people vaccinated with three doses (12+)560,571 (61%)

Ottawa Public Health     Ottawa Vaccination Rates.    Ottawa Wastewater 


hospitalizationschangein icuchange
8? -22? 0
36,109? 55291 ? 0

As of March 18, 2022 Updated Weekly

? Eligible people vaccinated with one dose (12+) 89%
? Eligible people vaccinated with two doses (12+)86.8%

Outaouais Public Health    Quebec Vaccination Rates


The Health Unit is changing the way they report. In the meantime, they are reporting only selected information. 

hospitalizationschangein icuchange
6? 00? 0
active caseschangedeaths
-? -211 ? 0

Eastern Ontario Health Unit.   Daily Stats  



⭕ Lifting capacity limits in businesses is the reason COVID-19 cases sharply went up, says Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa Public Health's deputy medical officer of Health. [CBC]

⭕ Superspreading events due to dropping of the mask mandate may lead to a spring wave of COVID-19 cases in Ottawa, says Tyson Graber, co-lead investigator of the COVID-19 wastewater project. [Ottawa Citizen]

⭕ Premier Doug Ford today said that Ontario did not drop COVID-19 restrictions too soon, despite rising COVID-19 cases. [CTV]

⭕ The World Health Organization has rejected the Canadian-developed, plant-based COVID-19 vaccine from Medicago because it is partially owned by a tobacco company. We mentioned that this was a possibility previous, now it is official. [CityNews]

⭕ Somerset ward councillor Catherine McKenney has tested positive for COVID-19. [CityNews]

    ""    ""    

Historic Logo t-shirts
Ottawan T-shirt

Support the ottawan

Buy one of our Ottawa Historic Logo t-shirts or an ottawan logo t-shirt (which is sure to be historic one day).

Historic the ottawan


▪️The Ontario Provincial Police said the Trucker protestors would be a security threat in the weeks leading up to the siege. In testimony to a House of Commons committe, the OPP security bureau told police departments and security agencies their concerns starting January 13, and maintained a daily watch. Previously, now-acting chief Stephen Bell testified that Ottawa Police Services expected the Truckers to stay for the weekend then leave. [CBC]

+ Related The three organizers of the Trucker siege have had new charges laid against them. Chris Barber and Tamara Lich are now both charged with mischief, counselling mischief, obstructing police, counselling to obstruct police, counselling intimidation, and intimidation by blocking and obstructing one or more highways. King is now charged with two counts of intimidation, two counts of obstructing police, one count of disobeying a court order,  and one count of counselling intimidation.

▪️The Province has appointed three new members of the Ottawa Police Services Board to fill the empty seats. The new members are Salim Fakirani (a lawyer with the Department of Justice), Peter Henschel (a former RCMP deputy commissioner), and Michael Doucet (a former executive director of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency). The appointments were needed after the three previous appointees all resigned last month. [Ottawa Citizen]

▪️The City's Planning Committee has approved the destruction of hundreds of low-rent homes to develop new ones. The Aggarwal family plans to redevelop Manor Park with 3,900 new apartments in towers as well as townhouses. The family promises – and signed a memorandum with the City – to resettlle 650 existing tenants at the same or lower rent, and to put aside 10 per cent of the new units as affordable rent. [CBC]

▪️49 year-old Federal civil servant Lucy wants to retire next year with only a Federal pension and the income from three rental homes that she owns to help her in those twilight years. Spoiler alert: The Financial Post says that she will be all right. [Financial Post]

▪️The City's Twitter account asks ‘Looking for a good stack of pancakes or waffles?. If Parks and Recreation was set in Ottawa, which #OttCity diner would have the most awesome breakfast food just like JJ’s Diner?’. It's a great question. Let us know at if you have a suggestion. Not necessarily for a story – we're just looking for a good place to eat. [City Tweet]

    ""    ""    

⏩ Do you find the ottawan worth reading?