Date: September 12, 2014 (September 19, rain date)
Time: 8:00 a.m. to 4:00/5:00 p.m.
Location: Lowertown at the base of York Street
All Sandy Hillers are welcome to swing by and lend a hand with various non-painting tasks throughout the day!
The painting will be led by Mr. Grant Holmes, a visual arts teacher at De La Salle, and his students will act as team leaders for each of the painting teams. The teams themselves will be made up of students from École elémentaire Catholique Ste. Anne (under the leadership of Jean-François Boulanger), Collège Samuel-Genest (under the leadership of Réal Charette and Martin Gagnon) and York Street Public School, as well as by parent volunteers and teachers.
Action Sandy Hill decided to coordinate this project – even though it is taking place in Lowertown – because many youth from Sandy Hill attend school in Lowertown and walk through this area on a daily basis. Moreover, this initiative also brings many people together in order to implement the project, thus promoting positive intergenerational, multicultural and linguistic interactions that we believe will help foster physical and emotional well-being and strengthen the interpersonal ties between participating residents, neighbours and community actors. Support from the community has been widespread – participants to date have included the Lowertown Community Association, the Lowertown East Residents Association, the Lowertown Good Neighbours House and the Lowertown Community Resource Centre (inter alia), as well as the schools noted below (each representing a different school board).
The design was created by art students at De La Salle High school, who were provided with a number of themes related to Lowertown from which to draw inspiration. At the centre of the design is the image of an angel. She is inspired by the book Angel Square – set in Lowertown in the 1940s and written by acclaimed Canadian children’s author, Bryan Doyle. In the story, Angel Square is the site of daily fights between the local French Canadian, Irish Catholic and Jewish kids. When the narrator’s friend get seriously injured in such a fight, the diverse children get together to push back against the racism and discrimination that is hurting them, and come to realize they are more bound by their similarities than their differences.
The messages from this story still resonate in Lowertown, and the image of the angel at the centre of our design represents the celebration of our multicultural community as a place where people from all different backgrounds, languages, religions and cultures come together in a positive way. Winged creatures are also represented in multiple religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity and Buddhism, etc.) and mythologies (Greek, Norse, Aboriginal, etc.) from around the world and have largely been integrated into secular philosophies as symbols of protection and guidance, messengers of harmony and tolerance. This is part of the reason that the newly-installed weather vanes at the City of Ottawa’s Jules Morin Park feature such winged creatures – they bring messages honouring past Lowertown traditions and heralding new beginnings for Lowertown East.
The arms of the design represent other themes important to both Sandy Hill and Lowertown: the bodies of water that shape the boundaries of our neighbourhoods – waters that come from afar, bringing many people and creatures to Ottawa; the abundance of natural elements that surround us and help make us happy and healthy, and the small birds and animals with whom we co-exist. Finally, the sense of movement in the design is intended to suggest playfulness and joy characterizing the actions of the children who live and play in Lowertown each day. The title of our project (Lowertown on the move! / Basseville bouge!) reflects this sense of movement too.