"FROM PARKING LOT INTO A VIBRANT COMMUNITY HUB" is a community-engaged placemaking project that will transform a shipping container into a unique community space in Vanier. The goal of this project is to create a positive community space that will bring us all together once the world is back to normal again :)
From July 15 to August 15 residents of all ages, cultures and backgrounds were invited to share their thoughts to inspire the mural that will cover all four exterior walls of the container turning it into a piece of art. Community members were reached out through personal interviews, online submissions form, children's' art workshops and consultations with key stakeholders which included Vanier Community Association, Vanier BIA, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, Odawa Native Friendship Centre, Minwaashin Lodge and Boys and Girls Club.
As a result of this extensive work, we have received a very positive response from the members of the community who welcomed the idea of this new "container hub" and generously shared their stories about the neighbourhood with us. It has been humbling to hear so many beautiful heartwarming stories about family, friendship and neighbours coming together during the time of unrest to make each other lives a little bit brighter, a little bit happier. There were stories of many generations living in Vanier and even streets named after some of them; stories of finding a new home and starting a new life in here; stories of self-organized neighbours' street dance parties and super friendly kids' soccer league; stories of neighbours helping neighbours, caring and sharing with each other; stories of birth and death - stories of life; stories of sounds - drum circles, church bells and neighbours music in the summer; stories of neighbours' collective love for ice-cream and excitement to hear the ice-cream truck's coming... These have been stories of humanity, love and care for one another.
Every single person spoke of how kind, caring of each other, generous and close-knit this community is. Every submission spoke of how diverse in all senses people who live here are. "Vanier is home to everybody. Here you find not only all colours, creeds and languages, but all different socioeconomic statuses. People here are literally from all walks of life." These two things - incredible diversity and exceptional friendliness of people were by far most noted "favourites" about the neighbourhood. Another favourite things people brought up were little winding streets, pretty little houses, community gardens, the proximity to nature and the river, as well as the city.
As for the positive images people thought about vibrant colours, people, sun, children, pets, flowers and butterflies. Strawberries were brought up as having a very special meaning in Indigenous cultures - known as "heart berry" they symbolize peace, forgiveness and teach how to maintain heartfelt relationships in our families and communities.
The nature of these contributions inspired a mural concept that would reflect it all. I thought of uniting things that were named as favourite about Vanier with people and their stories, in other words, create a tribute to all the layers that make this beautiful neighbourhood. This is how I came up with an idea of a "rainbow circle" - a rainbow is a very beautiful phenomenon adored by all cultures in the world and a modern symbol for inclusion and diversity, and there is no more inclusive shape than a circle - also a sacred symbol in many traditions around the world.
MURAL CONCEPT: Layers of Vanier
Background: “rainbow circle” that goes around the container and represents all walks of life together, united. This layer also features all the "hardware" that makes up Vanier - little beautiful houses, winding streets, nature, the river and Ottawa core across the river.
The rising Sun in this design is greatly inspired by Ojibwe concept of "Wabano"- which in its simplest terms means the morning twilight - when night meets day. Ojibwe Elders say that this time is "thinner than a strand of hair, yet even in its brevity, it is the most powerful time—where the magic happens and new beginnings are possible."
The river here represents all the three rivers of Ottawa - which has sacred meaning to the host nation and remind us of the history of this place as a gathering place. And it literally gathers us all today here.
Foreground: people and their stories are line-drawings on top of the colourful background. People, in the end, are what makes Vanier unique :)
Colour Palette: rainbow colours, modern
Style: Children’s Book Illustration
I thought of children's book illustration as the most accessible and inclusive style - as clearly people who live in Vanier today come very diverse backgrounds and cultures, but one thing that may unite us all - is that we all at some point were children. Plus, of course, this is a mural for a community hub that will host many family and children's events :)
Our painting is currently scheduled for the middle of September. Exact dates and times of community painting will be announced here later.
If you have ideas, comments or questions, please send them to .
P.S. And if you are curious, these are the community's responses harvested during the past four weeks:
We also have received some creative responses as a treat :) Please enjoy below. Vanier is truly a creative neighbourhood!
"This photo shows a young girl peering into a bucket attached to a maple tree being tapped for its syrup. I like to play with depth and unique frames in my images. I had been carefully lining up this photo, when suddenly the girl ran into the frame. I was quick to react and captured this spontaneous and inquisitive pose.
I took the picture in April 2019 during Vanier's Sugar Festival, which is put on annually by MuséoParc Vanier. Vanier's sugar bush is one of the few that are active in an urban environment.
The festival is one of my favourite events in our community. MuséoParc Vanier puts on many cultural activities in celebration of Vanier's unique and diverse heritage. It's also one of the earliest signs of spring where I look forward to the warmer days that lie ahead."
Caleb Ficner (@calebficner)
"I grew upin Vanier. My father Jacques Berlinguette still lives here in the same house since 1965. I wrote a poem about him..."
Patsea Griffin, Thunderbird Sisters Collective
Daddy and the Window
With the fear of Covid-19
We protect what we hold dear
We visit with papa
From the outside
Through the large front window
I remember as a child
Against the back of the sofa
Nose pressed against
That large front window
Waiting for daddy to come home
Always exciting to see him
Pull in to the driveway
Get out of the car
Maybe with treats
Maybe Chinese food
Maybe with some news
Jumping and shouting
All five of us
Must have driven my mother nuts
Mom was always happy
To see him too
She loved her Jack
Through the same window
I imagine him
Watching us leave the nest
One after the other
Silently hoping for the best
We’ve been staring
In and out of that window
For almost 60 years now
Watched people come and go
Watched families grow
We’ve seen love and heartbreak
From that large front window
If he imagined all the joy
This place would see
It certainly outweighs the sorrow
As a young father
What did he see
When he stood
At the large front window
For the first time
When the house was empty
Trying to decide
Whether to buy or not to buy
A man of vision
I bet he saw it all
Patsea, her daddy and the big window (Vanier, Ottawa, 2020)
Children participants of Vanier Community Service Centre programs expressed it through their own art:
And someone else reminded that he also lived in Vanier and "it holds a special place in his heart" ;)
THANK YOU FOR ALL YOUR AMAZING CONTRIBUTIONS!
As part of Neighbourhood Arts Ottawa, a program presented by Arts Network Ottawa.