Post by Katie Lydiatt. Katie Lydiatt is a recent graduate from Carleton University with a passion for art, theatre and public history. She can usually be found eating brunch or playing board games with pals.
Mìwàte: “To dazzle with light” in Anishinaabe, the language of the Algonquin people
And dazzle with light it did.
Created by multimedia studio Moment Factory, the folks who brought us the immersive Kontinuum this past summer, Mìwàte has transformed Chaudière Falls into a sublime experience of light and sound. Nestled in at 4 Booth Street, directly behind the Canadian War Museum on Chaudière Island, Chaudière Falls has just recently open to the public for the first time in over a century. With over 13,000 visitors in under a month, Miwate has surpassed attendance expectations dramatically.
Created in consultation with the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation, the event aims to shed light on the history of Indigenous people in Canada and to celebrate the sacred site on which the falls are located. While deep ambient lighting and soundscapes consisting of Indigenous music elevate the natural beauty of the falls, a series of information panels emphasizes some of the complexities of Indigenous and Canadian histories.
While the event itself teaches visitors of the many complexities of our history, the context surrounding the event and the subsequent reactions of the public teaches us even more about how far we have yet to come.
Seated on unsurrendered Algonquin Anishnaabe land, the Chaudière Falls have been a site of contestation for many years. The use of the falls for power generation and the threat of drastic development on surrounding land in recent years has local activist group Free the Falls advocating for the return of the land to a sacred and preserved park space. The use of the falls as the site of Mìwàte has brought these issues, which have previously flown under the radar, greater public attention. Both a sublime and breathtaking project, Mìwàte has welcomed with it new questions of reconciliation and environmental protection.
A spectacular collaboration of art and sound, Mìwàte is not only a celebration of Indigenous culture, but also an entry point for teaching and educating the public about the many complexities which still affect our country and our own city today. Mìwàte stands as a tremendous example of the ways in which art can serve as a vehicle for discussing important issues and deciding where we stand on issues of reconciliation as we near the end of the Ottawa 2017 celebrations.
You can catch Mìwàte in its extended hours from 6:30-10pm at 4 Booth Street until November 5. Admission is free. Drop off at site entrance is reserved for OC Transpo’s Para Transpo Service so prepare to park and walk. The path is well marked. Dogs are permitted on leash, as are baby strollers.