An Algonquin Wayfinding Wheel can now be found in front of the Heritage Building at Ottawa City Hall, and more of them are set to be featured across the city.
The wheel was unveiled by Mayor Jim Watson and Algonquin artist Simon Brascoupé of the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg on Tuesday, October 12.
Inspired by the traditional four sacred directions, the Wayfinding Wheel reflects Algonquin culture and the history of the Algonquin territory. Similar wheels will also be installed at all O-Train stations along with plaques that describe the significance of the depicted animals and symbols to the Algonquin peoples. The first wayfinding wheel was installed at Pimisi Station back in June of this year.
The city says the Wayfinding Wheel was designed through a participatory process involving Algonquin Elders and community members from Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation and Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg, as well as representatives from the Algonquins of Ontario (AOO), which is comprised of 10 Algonquin communities in Ontario.
"The design of the Wayfinding Wheel is an interpretation of what I heard and learned," explains Brascoupé. "The design is to help travellers’ wayfinding in their journey on the land. The wheels are attached to boulders called Grandfathers that honour Algonquin history in the territory since the beginning of time."
The design includes representations for all four compass directions and an orienting arrow that points north, along with important Algonquin symbols such as the canoe for transportation and animals that are important to the Algonquin peoples, including the moose in the centre of the design symbolizing food and strength.
The development and production of the Algonquin Wayfinding Wheels was funded through the Government of Canada Public Transit Infrastructure Fund (PTIF) to help accelerate municipal investments to support the rehabilitation of transit systems, new capital projects, and planning and studies for future transit expansion to foster long-term transit plans.
The Wayfinding Wheel is an important and unique symbol of traditional Algonquin territory, history and culture. Today I am honoured to stand with Algonquin Elders and members of the community to officially unveil this Wayfinding Wheel at City Hall. pic.twitter.com/r79nn8dEIF— Jim Watson (@JimWatsonOttawa) October 12, 2021