Finding her place in our community: Park renaming gives nod to a talented community artist (Sandy Hill Image, February-March)

What is in a name?

We often ask this question – whether it is for a child, a pet, a street – or sometimes, even a park. 

A local Sandy Hill resident, Stéphanie Plante, approached my office with such a request to name the park behind the Sandy Hill Community Centre, Annie Pootoogook Park. 

The connection was simple, she said, the internationally renowned artist lived in the community, but more so, she connected so many who wouldn’t be with Inuit culture. (not sure why we say this) 

Her work, often described as honest and innovative, came to an abrupt halt when she died in 2016. 

My office worked closely with community leader and resident Stephanie Plante,  with the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Sandy Hill Community Centre, the  City arts group team, Saw gallery (Nordic lab) and National Gallery of Canada for the consideration and support of this nomination and recognition.

Back by the community association and multiple outside of the city organizations and prominent individuals, Plante’s nomination submission said she felt it necessary to commemorate Annie’s legacy in the City and neighbourhood where she became famous, where she lived and drew, and where she also died.

Annie Pootoogook was born in 1969 in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. She came from a long line of artists and began drawing in 1997. Annie’s drawings reflected her way of life as a contemporary female artist living and working in Canada’s far north. 

The park behind the Community Centre is currently referred to as Sandy Hill Park but is not formally named. This naming would officially give the park a proper name.  

I am happy to support the community in this renaming. It is a shame Annie’s gift of the beautiful pen and coloured-pencil drawings of chronicled Inuit life, often with deeper meanings or commentary on both easy or challenging situations, came to an abrupt end. 

The hope is that many can come to the park and remember this artist and her work. 

We are working with the City, to designate a permanent space in the Community centre to showcase Ms. Pootoogook, her art as well as and Inuit art.  We are also working with local arts organisations to establish Inuit art programming in the park.

The renaming submission is set to be considered at the next Community and Protective Services Committee on Feb. 18, 2021.  

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