Isaruit had a great time on a beautiful Fall Sunday on November 7th, 2021, connecting with the 300 or so people who came to the unveiling of the Annie Pootoogook Park sign unveiling event at the former Sandy Hill Community Centre park in Ottawa.
Annie was a well recognized and well-loved woman by many people in Ottawa throughout the twenty or so years she lived here. She is also a highly regarded Inuit artist whose has some works housed at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. Since her untimely and heart-breaking death in 2016, Annie has been missed by many people in Ottawa for these 4+ years. It was good to finally gather together to console one another and to commemorate Annie’s living memory and talents through the renaming of Sandy Hill Park to Annie Pootoogook Park officially. The park is located behind the Sandy Hill Community Centre, at 250 Somerset St. East, and is intended by the City to become a welcoming place especially for all Inuit living in the Ottawa area.
Canada’s First Inuk Governor General, Her Excellency, Mary May Simon, attended the World Inuit Day Event and was able to visit with many people from the Inuit Community of Ottawa after the formal part of the Day’s Events. Speakers included The Governor General, Martha Flaherty, and Shelly and Malaya, students from Nunavut Sivuniksavut, as well as Jason St.-Laurent from the SAW Gallery, a gallery that Annie worked with closely for many years while she lived in Ottawa. Napachie Coubrn, Annie’s daughter, and the Governor General unveiled the Park Sign at the ceremony. Annie Aningmiuq and Kendra Tagoona sang two throat songs, and Sheena Akoomalik and her children performed a drum dance, accompanied by her Uncle, Ernie Kadloo and her mother Saramee Akoomalik.
Isaruit workers and volunteers also worked very hard to present a great feast of Magdalen Islands seal meat , other country food, bannock and a wide range of casseroles so ably and generously supported by Manitok Thompson and her husband, Tom. Ruben Komangapik and Yoanis Menge, a seal hunter from the Magdalen Islands were also present to host people, along with Sheena Akumalik and her family , in the Cultural Tent set up along side the Ottawa Art Gallery tent in the park. Isaruit even gave away door prizes on Sunday.
Councillor Mathieu Fleury said, “A huge thank you to Beverly Illauq and the team at Isaruit Inuit Arts for not only running the Country food feast and animating their tent, but for putting in a lot of leg work to bring Ottawa’s Inuit community together for this event. .”
He also said,” Yesterday’s event also 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.”
It was a wonderful
It was about one year ago that Isaruit’s Centre Coordinator, Beverly Illauq, and our Sewing Programs Coordinator, Susie Tiglik, began talking with Karen Balcomb, Stephanie Plante, Councillor Fleury’s office and other City of Ottawa personnel about the possibility of having Isaruit Inuit Arts participate in the ceremony around the renaming of Sandy Hill Park to the “Annie Pootoogook Park”, in memory and recognition of Annie Pootoogook, Kingaimiutvinniq.
Isaruit ended up helping Councillor Mathieu Fleury Councillor for Rideau Vanier, Ward 12, with the planning and carrying out of the renaming event on World Inuit Day, November 7th, at the suggestion of Natasha Latreille, Isaruit’s Board Chair. World Inuit Day has for many years been forgotten by Inuit and non-Inuit alike. Instituted by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference in 2006 the birth date of ICC visionary, Eben Hopson Sr., one of the great historic political leaders of the Arctic and the founder of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. It is fitting that World Inuit Day was celebrated this year in Ottawa by the events on Sunday, Nov 7th at Annie Pootoogook Park.