Ottawa council committee says yes to Annie Pootoogook Park
Canada’s capital is a step closer to naming a large green space just east of downtown Ottawa after the late Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook.
Members of Ottawa city council’s community and protective services committee, at a virtual meeting on Thursday, recommended Sandy Hill Park be renamed Annie Pootoogook Park after the much-revered artist from Kinngait.
The committee’s recommendation must be approved by the city’s full council at a future meeting for the renaming to become official.
“Representation matters. Women matter. The arts matter. And most importantly, Inuit people matter,” Stéphanie Plante, a Carleton University employee who lives in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood, told the committee.
Plante started campaigning for the name change in December 2019.
In an interview prior to the meeting, she said too few municipal facilities in Ottawa are named after women, and even fewer are named after Indigenous people.
So she chose to push for the commemoration of Annie Pootoogook’s name because of the strong Inuit presence in the area, she said.
The park is located behind the Sandy Hill Community Centre at 250 Somerset St. E., not far from the Nunavut Sivuniksavut building at the corner of Nelson and Rideau streets.
There’s also an Inuit daycare in that neighbourhood — and Plante says those Inuit children should see Pootoogook’s life represented in a positive way.
“We need to remember Annie as the absolutely special person that she was,” Plante said.
Plante’s work generated letters of support for the idea from Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, Kinngait MLA David Joanasie and from multiple Inuit organizations.