Today, the City of Mississauga officially unveiled Conference at the Council House, a Canada 150 public art legacy project at Mississauga Celebration Square.
According to Conference at the Council House artists Hadley Howes and Maxwell Stephens (Studio of Received Ideas), the artwork draws attention to the rich Indigenous history of the area. The installation features an artistic replica of the tower that tops the historic Council House, built 132 years ago, on the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation Reserve in Hagersville. Thirty bronze birds are placed on and around the tower to signify our diverse community.
This afternoon’s event began with traditional drumming and a smudging ceremony; it went on to include a land acknowledgment by the Peel Aboriginal Network and a spoken word tribute by the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.
“The legacy of Indigenous culture on these lands is an essential part of our local heritage,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “Conference at the Council House gives us pause to reflect on and celebrate this important piece of the city’s history. As a Canada 150 project and now part of our permanent art collection, it gives us the opportunity to learn more about our past while inspiring us to look forward with hope to the future.”
An open Call to Artists was issued in summer 2016. An independent Art Selection Committee considered feedback from more than 600 residents in the selection process. Once the artist was chosen, residents were encouraged to submit drawings of local birds which were used as the basis for the sculpted pieces.
“I am delighted that the City of Mississauga is unveiling their magnificent creation for Canada 150. This public artwork will be at the heart of the community and will highlight the region’s diversity and Indigenous heritage. What a wonderful way to bid farewell to this remarkable year, as we look to the future with hope and optimism.” —The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage
«Je suis ravie que la Ville de Mississauga dévoile sa magnifique création à l’occasion de Canada 150. Cette œuvre d’art public sera au cœur de la communauté et elle soulignera la diversité et le patrimoine autochtone de la région. Quelle belle façon de dire au revoir à cette année formidable, tout en envisageant l’avenir avec espoir et optimisme.» – L’honorable Mélanie Joly, ministre du Patrimoine canadien
Community engagement was also a key focus in the development of the artwork. Artist Hadley Howes worked with the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation, local schools and The Riverwood Conservancy to offer workshops which featured traditional teachings and stories of birds from an Indigenous perspective.
“Conference at the Council House serves to tell part of the story of how our City came to be,” said John Kovac, Ward 4 Councillor. “This project has already provided an exceptional learning opportunity for the students who participated in the workshops and submitted bird drawings. I encourage everyone to come and see the artwork for themselves and learn more about our community and our history.”
The project was supported through a contribution of $199,000 from the Department of Canadian Heritage. Ce project a été rendu possible partie grâce au gouvernement du Canada.
“We gratefully acknowledge the support from the Department of Canadian Heritage for this Canada 150 project,” said Janice Baker, City Manager and Chief Administrative Officer. “The funding supported the artwork as well as programs to engage residents on issues of identity and culture.”
“We worked closely with community partners to host a number of events this year,” said Paul Mitcham, Commissioner of Community Services. “These programs included a community conversation series, cultural competency training and a traditional First Nations Sunrise Ceremony at Bradley Museum, the site of our sweat lodge and healing garden. We continue to work on building these relationships through public art, heritage and cultural programming.”
With today’s unveiling, Conference at the Council House becomes the second addition to the City’s permanent public art collection in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. In March, artist Marc Fornes and his studio THEVERYMANY was commissioned to create Pine Sanctuary, a permanent public art sculpture at Riverwood; growing the City’s permanent public art collection to more than 20 pieces.For more information, visit culture.mississauga.ca/content/art.