Brenda Dunn artinjest

Chance and Choice

I’ve been transcribing our conversations with the seniors. Now that we’ve made a few trips to visit them and gather their stories, there are themes and patterns that have already started to emerge. I am taking note of what would be considered a shared experience, and trying to watch for the overarching themes with our Canada 150th celebrations in mind. What does it mean to collect these stories? What am I gathering when I transcribe them? What exactly is being learned, remembered, shared?

The experience of a world war is prevalent in the vast majority of these stories. It is so abundantly clear that every single person alive during these monumental events was directly affected in some way. We’ve met multiple war brides, and I notice that the experience of Canadian seniors is particularly coloured by this experience. So many people had to make their way – by choice, deliberately- to Canada from another place they previously thought of as home.

Group shot 1The stories of these travels are arduous and often dangerous and with many stops along the way.  As someone who has lived in Canada my whole life, the idea of this undertaking – often when young, or newly married, a child or nearly – is mind-boggling. These stories are told with a shared tinge of “well dear that’s just what had to be done”.

group shot 2There is a resilience that has come out of these experiences of war, and an appreciation for what it means to become Canadian by choice rather than chance. Even in the early stages, this project of collecting is a learning experience.

Brenda Dunn artinjest


Théâtre Belvédère

Juste avant la scène

Nous entrons dans la dernière phase de notre projet QUARTIER(S) : morceaux d’avenir : la présentation sur scène!!!

Voici un résumé rapide des belles rencontres et des étapes que nous avons pu vivre depuis le début de cette aventure effrénée!

7 mars 2017

On commence à répandre nos questionnaires aux quatre vents d’Orléans et Cumberland. On veut rejoindre 150 répondants de tous âges et tous horizons pour faire des statistiques non-scientifiques du 150e.

On va aussi rencontrer directement des gens au Centre de ressources communautaires Orléans-Cumberland et au Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa.


23 mars

On prend de magnifiques images de nos quartiers, pour faire partie du visuel du spectacle.


30 mars

On fait une incursion à l’école élémentaire Le Prélude avec notre conceptrice sonore, Venessa Lachance. Les élèves de 3e année nous partagent leur vision et leurs rêves pour leur quartier. Les animaux et les Legos sont à l’honneur!


27 avril

Après avoir compilé toutes les réponses à nos questionnaires et concocté les bases d’un texte de théâtre, nous sommes allées rencontrer nos acteurs : les élèves de théâtre de 9e année de l’École secondaire catholique Garneau. Ils sont talentueux, ils travaillent forts et, surtout, sont très inspirants! Les explorations que nous avons faites avec eux nous ont permis de créer de beaux tableaux à partir de statistiques.



1er mai

On commence les répétitions avec les comédiennes professionnelles. On ne vous en dit pas trop (venez voir le spectacle!) mais voici un aperçu de notre base de costumes…


Le spectacle avance très bien et on a hâte de vous présenter ce portrait un peu fou d’Orléans et Cumberland.

Soyez au rendez-vous le 8 juin à 18 heures au Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa!

Théâtre Belvédère

Brenda Dunn artinjest

re[place] re[collect] Small Town Big City

It’s a good thing my photographer comes from the Pontiac. His rural street cred is necessary to help ease the tension when we first roll in from the big city. I’ve never thought that I’d live in a rural area, but I recognize the incredible advantage to having that built in recognition and sense of community.

When we meet seniors from these more remote neighborhoods, there is sometimes a hesitation, even suspicion, about what we might be doing, and what intentions we may have brought from downtown Ottawa. The impression, for some, is that the big city is not a particularly caring or friendly place. The idea comes from a sense of anonymity. One of the greatest things about a rural community is that you KNOW everyone. Like them or hate them, they are part of your ecosystem. And that can come hand in hand with an idea that there is no community – no shared responsibility – in a place where you cannot possibly know everyone.

I can see how it can look that way. But I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a really close knit and mutually supportive community in Ottawa, and being part of the Arts scene has played a huge part in that. For a small town, the entire population becomes part of this mutually sustaining ecosystem. Everyone recognizes, and therefore feels accountable to each other. One of the advantages of being so entrenched in the arts is that there is this funny little subset of “big city Ottawa” where the concerns and the mutual support feels in some ways like a small town. Although that can cause artists to struggle with economy of scale, it can also lend well to connecting with and sustaining a very devoted and supportive audience.

This project has reminded me that there are some wonderful things about being part of a community, and I’m reminded to appreciate the niche that the arts has provided in the Big City of Ottawa. So thanks Ottawa Arts. Mighty nice to know you.

Brenda Dunn artinjest