Art at The Foot of The Waters: Jiimaan’ndewemgadnong

Tia Cavanagh with her creation (courtesy of her press release)

Peterborough’s latest public art installation, Jiimaan’ndewemgadnong (the place where the heart of the canoe beats) was inaugurated this past August at the northeast corner of Water and King Street. This interactive installation consists of a canoe held upside down and hand-painted both inside and out, as

well as the transformer box right behind it, and surrounded by a series of Indigenous plants. Both art pieces were created by current Trent student and Indigenous artist Tia Cavanagh. Enabled by the Downtown Vibrancy Project, this art installation was generously funded by Kim and Mark Zippel. While the green area surrounding it was done in partnership with GreenUP, an organization central to environmental education, sustainability and stewardship; alongside other local businesses and community members.

Tia Cavanagh’s canoe photographed by Irene Suvillaga.

The space brings colour and Indigenous spirit to our precious downtown, reminding us of the beauty, presence and history of Mississauga and Anishinaabe Indigenous peoples. Although small, the impact of the painting and landscape design is powerful. The canoe is carefully designed with symbolic colours (red, white yellow and black) on the exterior, and a vibrant heart in the middle of the interior that pumps both life and energy into the installation. Symbolizing the water surrounding the canoe, a transformer box features a series of fish and algae. The essence of this art piece is to work as a representation and commemoration of the First Nations community of Peterborough, formerly known as Nogojiwanong meaning place at the foot of the waters, located next the heart of Peterborough’s Otonabee river. Embedded in the name is the inherent significance of the river and the connection between its people. As part of the traditional territory, its creators sought to enable an artistic revitalization of the stories that lie within this traditional territory. By calling (705) 775-7286 you can hear narrated stories by three local Anishinaabe women in regards to canoes and their personal connection to them.

This is a truly powerful piece that everyone should visit. Take a moment to reflect, hear these stories and appreciate the history of where you stand. Reminisce in the place at the foot of the waters.

Tia Cavanagh’s work, photographed by Irene Suvillaga.
Tia Cavanagh’s work, photographed by Irene Suvillaga.