The Celebration Sandy Hill Working Group recently organized a joint submission to the City of Ottawa’s Paint the Streets Initiative on behalf of a number of community partners and neighbours from Sandy Hill and Lowertown. The proposed design – which was created by art students at l’École De La Salle – would be located at the base of York Street, on the cul-de-sac facing York Street Public School, Ste. Anne Catholic School and the Centre Éducatif Beausoleil, and would help local students start their day off ‘on the right foot’ on their walks to and from school!
At the centre of the design is the image of a beautiful 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. 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, like trees, leaves, sunshine and grass; and the small birds and animals with whom we co-exist, like cardinals, raccoons, owls, foxes and squirrels. 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 Working Group will keep the community apprised of any developments regarding this exciting placemaking initiative. If our submission is selected, the painting party/street festival is likely to take place in September 2014.