On December 6th all of the flags on Federal buildings are lowered to half mast and women in cities from coast to coast to coast organize vigils like the ones that I have attended in Minto Park since I moved to Ottawa in 2002.
The vigil at Minto Park takes place at a monument known as "The Enclave" and that monument (and two other Ottawa monuments) is the subject of this post.
|The Enclave, Minto Park, Ottawa|
I think about how the monument is located midway between the police station and the courthouse on Elgin Street - "the two institutions that were failing to protect women" and I think about the National Tribute to Human Rights monument further down the street that cost $350,000.00 and this monument cost $10,000.
I think about how the artists wanted rocks "with hips" and I think about how the Women's Urgent Action committee stopped adding new stones with the names of local women who were murdered after the year 2000 when they had to remove the stone with Sandra Campbell's name (at defense lawyer Michael Neville's request).
Sketching As A Meditation
I walk around Ottawa every single day with my Yellow Labrador Retriever Lexington ("Lexie" for short) and
- as an artist, I am always looking for interesting subject matter;
- as a genealogist, I am always curious about history;
- as a naturalist, I am always paying attention to the flora and fauna; and
- as someone who worked my whole life for social justice, I'm interested in the human stories behind the public art, monuments and memorials and the artists who created them
|"Lost Child" by David Ruben Piqtoukun|
This assemblage of stones recalls the artist’s childhood experience and feelings of alienation when arriving in an urban environment.
The artist intended this space to be a "gathering site that provides a place of respite and contemplation" which it often is for Lexie and me on our daily walks.
|The National Tribute to Human Rights|
The National Tribute to Human Rights is another monument that Lexie and I love to visit, walk through and meditate about and I have attended many, many vigils at this site over the years.
Melvin Charney (1935-2012) was selected to design this monument and people either love it or hate it. I personally love it especially when the leaves are off the trees and I can walk through it with Lexie and see the National War Memorial which was Melvin's intention: that we imagine the War Memorial and the Human Rights Monument having a conversation about peace.
I also imagine the Dalai Lama standing there at its' unveiling and Nelson Mandela standing where I'm standing unveiling the plaque on September 24, 1998, marking the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Monuments and Memorials In Ottawa
These three monuments that I have sketched and the artists who created them inspire me through every season. The Enclave was covered in leaves just a few weeks ago. For the vigil tomorrow it will be covered in snow ....
No matter when I visit "The Encalve", I think about all the women and girls who were/are victims of violence, the artists who created this space to honour them and I hope and pray for a world where violence against women and girls does not exist.
Special Thanks To Tonya Davidson
N.B. I am eternally grateful for the work of Tonya Davidson especially "Narratives of National Belonging at Ottawa Monuments: The Canadian Tribute to Human Rights and Enclave: The Women’s Monument " and her thesis "Stone Bodies In The City: Unmapping Monuments, Memory and Belonging in Ottawa" (Tonya's 2012 thesis; 311 pp) for making my walks around the City of Ottawa with Lexie so much more interesting and for inspiring me to make many sketches and meditate on the art and monuments around me.