On Sunday, November 7, in Ottawa, ON, the newly named Annie Pootoogook Park was officially unveiled in honour of the late artist, Annie Pootoogook (1969–2016). The park, which is located in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood, was filled with approximately 200 people there to witness the park naming ceremony and plaque unveiling. The celebration coincided with International Inuit Day—a day dedicated to celebrating Inuit and sharing their voices.
The ceremony was hosted by Rideau-Vanier Councillor Mathieu Fleury, who emphasized the importance of this moment for the Inuit community. Governor General Mary Simon was in attendance and gave a speech in honour of Pootoogook’s legacy, highlighting her personal connections to the artist’s work. Other memorable moments included a recorded speech from Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq, a drumming performance by Sheena Akoomalik and her family as well as a throat singing performance by Annie Aningmiuq and Kendra Tagoona.
A drummer performs at the Annie Pootoogook Park naming ceremony (2021)PHOTO COURTESY KATHERINE TAKPANNIE
The crowd of onlookers included members of Pootoogook’s family and others who knew and loved Pootoogook or were impacted by the artist in some way. For members of Pootoogook’s family that live in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, the event was livestreamed.
The idea to name the park after Annie Pootoogook came from Stéphanie Plante, an admirer of Pootoogook’s work who would often see the artist around the Sandy Hill neighbourhood. When the artist passed away in 2016, Plante took it upon herself to start a campaign to have the park located next to the Sandy Hill Community Centre named after the internationally renowned artist. Plante worked with Councillor Fleury to bring the campaign to Ottawa’s city hall.
Annie Pootoogook Park naming ceremony, 2021COURTESY MATHIEU FLEURY
Pootoogook is known for her graphic artworks depicting contemporary life in the North. Her art covered a wide range of topics, but she often depicted everyday images and scenes, such as shopping or watching TV. She began creating her art in 1997 and within a decade was receiving national and international attention. The year 2006 was pivotal for the artist, which included a major solo show at the Power Plant in Toronto, ON—the first one dedicated to an Inuk artist in the institution’s history. That year Pootoogook was also the first Inuk artist to win the annual Sobey Art Award, further propelling her into the contemporary art sphere. Fittingly, the park naming ceremony took place the day after Laakkuluk Williamson Bathory was awarded the 2021 Sobey Art Award, the second Inuk to be awarded the top prize and 15 years after Pootoogook herself.