My first stop for Doors Open was out in the Vanier area. I was a few minutes early, and came across this mural, nearly complete on the wall of a four story building. It's done by three artists, Mique Michelle, Kalkidan Assefa, and Markus Kisa Gaudreau, and celebrates Inuit culture. It was officially unveiled a few days ago. At this point, the artists would have still been working on final touches, as the hydraulic lifts were in place.
My destination was nearby, and it was something I've shown you back in a post in April. The Wabano Centre is an organization working with First Nations people in the Ottawa area, as a health and social services centre. It has been headquartered here since 2013 in a bright and wonderfully designed building by Douglas Cardinal, the First Nations architect who designed the Museum of History in Gatineau. Mr. Cardinal has a style of making buildings flow, which show in the curves he employs in his designs, and fits into the purpose of the building.
I took a tour with one of the staffers inside (and didn't start taking pictures until late in the tour). She spoke of the design of the building, its programs, the art that could be seen here and there, and the evolution of relationships between Canada and its First Nations, which we're still dealing with today. That tour included a walk into the washrooms- men's and women's- which were rightly described as the best looking washrooms in the city. The former incorporates the idea of the wampum belt, an item common to numerous First Nations peoples, while the latter uses tiles in a strawberry plant motif.
The tour took in the third and fourth floors of the building. The first and second floors are more typical working space, referred to informally as the earth and water floors, while the third and fourth floors are referred to as the fire and air floors- all four elements important in First Nations culture. This rooftop view looks out onto a project the Centre is doing this summer- the addition of a traditional lodge to the roof.
This view from the top floor looks out onto the atrium below. The mosaic down below reflects the fire aspect of that floor, and I can tell you that when we were standing right down at the center of it, our voices echoed- a trick of Cardinal's design of this space. Across the gap is a large working space where among other things, a canoe and quilt were being prepared.
Numerous examples of First Nations art could be found on the walls.
Coming back down, I took another view of that third floor mosaic. The columns surrounding this space each feature banners displaying aspects of the moon through the year, such as the spirit moon in the last shot. If you look up from the mosaic, the dome up above has an oculus window, with the four colours neatly arranged around it.