Alderville First Nation Commemoration Project: Manidoo Ogitigan
I wrote the following back in the winter for that other paper…. The Kingston Local, now I am going to cover the project’s unveiling. It is really exciting!
Kingston’s largest public art installation set for unveiling in June
“Manidoo Ogitigan” installed at Lake Ontario Park as Alderville First Nation Commemoration Project
Almost eight years ago, representatives from the Alderville First Nation sat down with Kingston city staff to establish an effective way to commemorate Nation’s ties to the Kingston region.
Since 1837, the Mississauga Anishinabeg of the Ojibway Nation have called Alderville First Nation home. However, before that the Mississauga people lived on their traditional lands around the Bay of Quinte and St. Lawrence River, including the land where the city of Kingston now stands.
After having lost the American colonies in the American Revolutionary War, the British began to move soldiers and civilians who had remained loyal to the King (The United Empire Loyalists) to these traditional lands. As the population grew, a “land surrender” was negotiated and Mississaugas moved from Kingston to their current 1,450 hectare site near Rice Lake, north of Cobourg.
Danika Lochhead, Manager of Arts and Sector Development for the City of Kingston explains, “Then Chief of the Alderville First Nation, James Marsden, approached the city with a request to form some sort of partnership in the development of an appropriate vehicle that would commemorate the story of the Mississaugua Nation in Kingston.”
“There was discussion about a plaque and it was determined that it wasn’t the right vehicle for this kind of a commemoration and for what Alderville wanted to explore,” says Lochhead. Public art [on the other hand] has the ability to respond to ideas and connect with people and so this was the way they chose to go.”
Thus began a two stage process laid out in the city’s Public Art Policy. There was an open call process, which went out internationally. An all indigenous jury, including three members of Alderville First Nation, and three indigenous artists, whittled down the entries to three shortlisted artists.
These were asked to submit a proposal and visit Alderville First Nation to present them to the community. “This was an important part of the process, for the artists to get that feedback to integrate into their proposals,” explains Lochhead.
After deliberations by the jury, “Manidoo Ogitigan” (“Spirit Garden”) by Terence Radford was selected as the winning proposal to be installed at Lake Ontario Park as the Alderville First Nation Commemoration Project.
Lochhead states proudly,“This is our biggest public art projection in Kingston so far, it’s a remarkable landscape installation created by Terrance Radford. Terrence’s proposal was very unique in that it involved a landscape installation, not just a sculpture, though it does have sculptural components.”
Terrance Radford is a practicing contemporary artist working in multiple media. He is also a registered Landscape Architect and runs Trophic Design, a landscape and architectural practice in Cobourg, Ontario.
Radford’s study in Cultural Landscape Theory and Indigenous Art History are informed by his Cree heritage and membership with the Metis Nation of British Columbia, as well as his work with the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres,
“Manidoo Ogitigan” presents the history of select Wampum Belts, the symbolism of the medicine wheel and a selection of culturally significant food and medicinal plants in a formal layout based on the Alderville Methodist Church. The installation is to function as a symbolic reclamation and physical restoration of the land. It explores how colonization and attempts at cultural assimilation influenced and impacted the living culture of Alderville First Nation.
“People can come and appreciate and learn through this commemoration,” says Locchead. “But through the conversations with the artist and Alderville First Nation it has been acknowledged that this will actually act as a site and a space for future gathering and as a catalyst for teaching. There are so many elements to this project that are really exciting.”
Current Chief Dave Mowat sat on the jury and was an integral part in the selection of the work. “He also facilitated a ground blessing event involving representatives from both the city and Alderville First Nation before the groundbreaking and installation,” says Lochhead.
The construction has been completed this past fall and in the spring it will be planted with the various culturally significant vegetation planned. Lochhead says in June a public unveiling is being arranged, “Talks are ongoing with Alderville and the artist how they would like this to come forward and we are also recognizing how to as a city engage the local indigenous community in this project launch.”
For more information about the installation visit: https://www.cityofkingston.ca/city-hall/projects-construction/alderville-first-nation-commemoration