In February 2021 Sandy Hill Park was renamed Annie Pootoogook park following a community wide effort led by Stephanie Plante. On Sunday, November 7th we held an Official Naming Ceremony to celebrate this, as well as Annie’s Legacy and Impact.
Annie Pootoogook was a well beloved Inuit artist. Her ink and crayon drawings oushed the boundaries of what Canada and the world expected from “Inuit” art. Her artistry reflected her experiences as a female artist living and working in contemporary Canada. Annie eventually moved to Ottawa, as many Inuit do, where she was welcomed into the local art community, where she had her first solo exhibit, and where she tragically passed away in 2016.
I was so touched to see the community come together in celebration of Annie as well as International Inuit Day. We had a fantastic turn out, lovely weather, and even a very special visit from Her Excellency, the Right Honourable Mary May Simon, Governor General of Canada .
The park was brought to life by drumming performances by Sheena Akoomalik and members from the Tununiq-miut Theatre as well as a beautiful throat singing performance by Annie Aningmiuq and Kendra Tagoonaq. We are so grateful to Isaruit Inuit Arts who animated a tent where folks were invited to come learn about Inuit cultural traditions and practices and put together a feast comprised of a variety of northern country food. We also had the pleasure of having the Ottawa Art Gallery animate a beading craft activity and we were happy to be joined by the National Gallery of Canada and SAW Gallery. I was particularly moved by the words of first year student from Nunavut Sivuniksavut, Emily Danielle, who said that “having a park named after (Annie), a great artist whose life represents Inuit realities, helps us spread our voices as Inuit and how we are situated in this country (…) it’s a great honour to be an Inuk today.”
This event also marked an important moment in something larger, community led efforts to create an Ottawa that truly represents us. I continue to encourage all of us to support similar efforts.
Additionally, the event highlighted the opportunity we have to bring the local Inuit community together in a space that is familiar and meaningful, I am so honoured to have been apart of what is hopefully the first of many events of this kind.
To learn more about the ceremony, I invite you to read this article by Nunatsiaq News: https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/article/ottawa-park-named-in-honour-of-late-inuit-artist-annie-pootoogook/