By Emmanuelle Gingras, cultural journalism intern in collaboration with Le Pressoir.
Katherine Takpannie is an urban Inuk whose family is originally from Apex Hill, Nunavut. She was born in Montreal and grew up in Vanier. Takpannie is a self-taught, emerging photographer who wants to reveal the complexities and nuances of urban Inuit life. Having lived most of her life in Ottawa, her work speaks to the Ottawa that she sees. Her visual language expands out from lifestyle portraiture to include lush landscapes and gritty urban scenes.
Takpannie also captures performative and political gestures, hoping to bring reflection on issues that Canadians face daily. Katherine is also a proud alumni of the Nunavut Sivuniksavut program.
Apt613: Where is somewhere to take a friend who is visiting Vanier for the first time?
I’m very drawn to the Richelieu Vanier Park. It’s right beside the Ottawa Public Library and Richelieu Community Centre. The park itself is quite small, and it has a sugar shack inside of it. The moment you get into it, you feel like you’ve left the city. I never was a big fan of the city, I always loved being in nature, and it’s kind of like my gateway.
Where is your favourite place to read a book?
Along the Vanier Parkway, close to the Ottawa River, near Beechwood. There’s a park that follows the river and a bike and walking path. It has a very serene and peaceful landscape. In the summer, the very large trees give a lot of shade, and you can see a lot of dog walkers.
Somewhere you consider important for you?
The Tungasuvvingat Inuit centre. It’s a resource centre for urban Inuit. I’ve been able to connect with other Inuit, connect with my culture, and access programs. They even have a food bank I would go to when I was having a harder time, as a student and growing up. It really has everything.
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Where do you find good comfort food?
I will 100% go with the Great Canadian Poutinerie. It’s located a little bit off Montreal Road behind the Burger King. I was a very young student with not a lot of money in my pockets, I walked by one day and they were selling two hot dogs and a poutine… it was such a comfort food.
Best place for breakfast or brunch?
I suppose it depends on your mood for brunch. Bobby’s Table is a classic, if I’m going with my folks who like a traditional but well put-together eggs-sausages-toast classic kind of breakfast. But when you go to Beechwood, there’s also Red Door Provisions. It always has a lineup, it’s always busy. It’s delicious and a little bit fancier than Bobby’s Table.
Where is somewhere you know your parents or family members would like?
The Inuit Children’s Centre, Inuuqatigiit, in Vanier, if I were to bring my son or nephew. There’s often a lot of programs that connect us with our Inuit culture.
Where have you heard live music in the neighbourhood before?
I have heard music at the Clocktower Brew Pub. I haven’t really heard of any other places honestly…
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Are you a “regular” at any Vanier businesses?
Do corner stores count? *laughs*
There’s a few places if I walked in people would know who I was, depending on who’s working. It would be places like Ola Cocina Taqueria, The Great Canadian Poutinerie (hands down, they definitely do). Then there are a handful of corner stores that if I walk in, they’re gonna be asking me: “How is your mom?!”
What’s your favourite corner store?
Fresh Grocer on Joliet.
What about somewhere you miss that has closed down?
I don’t know if it falls into Vanier… There used to be a Jamaican food store. It’s further up on Montreal Road near Farm Boy and McDonald’s. Is that still considered Vanier? It had the tastiest Jamaican food. I’m not sure if they moved somewhere else but when I walked by recently, I realized it was closed.
What’s something to do at night, late night?
Um… most things are closed in Vanier at night *laughs*. I mean, everyone stops at the Quickie’s… Oh! If you’re in for a good old-fashioned time, there’s Finnigan’s Pub!
How about somewhere you don’t have to spend money?
That definitely falls into being outside. Taking a stroll or going to the community centres that connect me with my Inuit culture. It’s so fun to see all my people.
Find more of Katherine Takpannie’s work on her website.