Call for Indigenous artists made for showcase at new Ottawa library

Rendering of the OPL-LAC Joint Facility, view from Albert Street at sunset.Five calls to Indigenous artists were made across Canada to honour and showcase their art at the new OPL-LAC Joint Facility. Photo courtesy of the City of Ottawa.

Community, Culture

The City of Ottawa has been doing an active outreach to Indigenous artists across Canada to honour, support and showcase their artwork at the new library near Lebreton Flats.

Set to open in 2024, the Ottawa Public Library-Library and Archives (OPL-LAC) Joint Facility will be located on 555 Albert St.

With the help of the Indigenous Public Art Program, five Indigenous public art opportunities were made for local, regional and national Indigenous artists to submit their artwork and have their stories featured around the building.

Dawn Saunders Dahl, curator for the Indigenous Public Art program, was hired a little over a year ago to create the public art calls to artists. She’s hoping the showcased artwork will inspire future programs to include Indigenous art.

“My sincere hope is that there is a genuine interest in learning more and understanding of our collective history.” said Saunders Dahl.

A woman stands with a box in a graphic of the colourful, round Indigenous Multi-Purpose Room

Interior view of the proposed Indigenous Multi-Purpose Room inside the Joint Facility. Photo courtesy of the City of Ottawa.

“It’s an incredible opportunity for Indigenous artists to share their stories for non-Indigenous and other Indigenous peoples to see,” she added. “There’s hundreds of different groups of Indigenous peoples in Turtle Island and this is one incredible way that we can showcase these stories and we can all learn a little bit more about these different first peoples.”

The project states that it is important to include Indigenous people on this project because the facility will be located on traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

“The land surrounding the Chaudière Falls is a sacred meeting place for the Algonquin Anishinabe and other First Nations, associated with a portage and trade route for Indigenous people along the Ottawa River,” the project website states.

The facility will hold records of the history of these lands and will include and celebrate art and storytelling from Indigenous perspectives.

Those who will be working in the facility and the architects worked in collaboration to decide where the artwork would be featured throughout the facility.

Here is CHUO’s interview with Dawn Saunders Dahl, curator for the Indigenous Public Art Program:

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