The 2023 Women of the Year Awards: Rising Stars – Winner – Meg O’Hara

One of the winners of the Rising Stars category of the 2023 Women of the Year Awards is Meg O'Hara, owner of Meg O'Hara Creative.

Credit: Mary Paquet/SOI Foundation

Meg O’Hara
Owner, Meg O’Hara Creative

Since landscape painter Meg O’Hara won our 30 Under 30 award in 2021, the artist’s business has catapulted. 

She has visited three different continents, been on two icebreaker ships, won her first Canadian Art Council grant and finalized five upcoming expeditions for the next two years. A few months ago, Quebec’s SOI Foundation invited her to be one of 10 delegates going on an “expedition with a purpose” to Antarctica, looking at Canada’s involvement in the Antarctic Treaty System. Her corresponding exhibition took place this April at the Artist Project in Toronto.

Living with learning disabilities like dyslexia and ADHD, O’Hara admits that the business of art didn’t come easy: “I hear stories of people who used to have lemonade stands and were really born to be an entrepreneur, and I’m always like, Man, lucky. I had to learn this one.”

In her mind, she only graduated from UBC with a degree in art history because the textbooks were picture books.

But O’Hara leaned into what she was good at (her first exhibition was in her dad’s living room at age 17), and since launching Whistler-based Meg O’Hara Creative in 2015, began to outsource work like copywriting and marketing.

As a Whistler resident, it’s only natural that her career started with a sharp dive into the ski industry. (“I love ice,” she says with a laugh.) But even though skiing is what sparked her interest in high alpine areas, over the past two years she shifted her attention to vulnerable environments at the forefront of climate change.

Among other projects, O’Hara is collaborating with Ocean Week Canada, an annual event held by the Canadian Ocean Literacy Coalition to spread ocean awareness nationally. According to her, the June event gets 750,000 visitors a year. 

“At the core of everything I do is to inspire people to seek adventure in nature and then reflect on their role in preserving it,” she says.