Ottawa Tourism

Footsteps and storytelling: Discover Ottawa’s past on an Indigenous walk through the city streets

As Community Coordinator at [email protected] at Carleton University, one of the perks of my job is getting the opportunity to meet amazing people doing truly amazing things in our city! Even though I have lived here for a good part of my 28 years, I am always finding out about a hidden gem in our capital.

When I first got involved in One Young World, I could feel the energy and creative juices flowing from the other end of our first conference call. I felt so honored to be part of a network of Canadians spreading positive messages about our city to our future leaders who would soon embark on a journey here.

It was shortly after that conference call when everything aligned for my colleague Darlene Gilson and I. We thought to ourselves, ‘how can we tell a story to our visitors about the diverse Indigenous groups in our region’? After what felt like a millisecond, Darlene’s face lit up and she started telling me about Indigenous Walks – one of Ottawa’s ‘hidden gems’ that I was referring to.

Indigenous Walks was founded by Jaime Koebel, an Otipemsiwak/Nehiyaw (Metis/Cree) woman who studied here at Carleton University. Each guided walk is a unique tour of downtown Ottawa, showing the participants arts and culture from an Indigenous perspective.

I jumped at the chance to go on my first Indigenous Walk on Saturday, May 28th, and have since been keeping my eyes peeled for the next public tour. We started at the Ottawa Art Gallery, made our first stop on Elgin, and then made our way through the bustling ByWard market. Listening to Jaimie’s stories brought a whole new perspective, as I got to hear about the deeper meanings behind the artwork that I have walked by more than a dozen times.

Going on an Indigenous Walk served as a reminder of the rich history of our capital, and the importance of telling stories to learn about our past from another lens.  Here is a glimpse of some of the stops I got to experience along my recent walk.

‘The Lost Child’, by artist David Ruben PiqtokunThis fragmented inukshuk stands in front of Ottawa’s City Hall as part of the City of Ottawa Art Collection. The piece is called ‘The Lost Child’, by artist David Ruben Piqtokun.

This set of three photographs are located in the pedestrian underpass off of Rideau Street.  This set of three photographs are located in the pedestrian underpass off of Rideau Street. 

. ‘Thunderbird Woman’ hangs in the Byward Market’s CourtyardThe above is a piece by Daphne Odjig, one of Canada’s most celebrated Indigenous artists. ‘Thunderbird Woman’ hangs in the Byward Market’s Courtyard.

‘Jin’ by Meryl McMasterA few steps away in the Courtyard is ‘Jin’ by Meryl McMaster. With an Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian background, her pieces explore issues of identity in biculturalism.

‘Autumn Spirits’ piece by Kenojuak Ashevak displayed towards the York Street entrance of the CourtyardThe last stop of the afternoon was the vibrant ‘Autumn Spirits’ piece by Kenojuak Ashevak displayed towards the York Street entrance of the Courtyard.

For more information on Indigenous Walks please visit: http://indigenouswalks.com/.

Jenna HobinWriters Bio:

Jenna Hobin has a Combined Honours Degree in African Studies and Communications from Carleton University. She is currently working as Community Coordinator at Carleton University’s social innovation hub, [email protected] (carleton.ca/1125). She has a passion and interest in the way Communications can be used to mobilize positive social impact on a local and global level.