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Originally from Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, Treaty 6 Territory, visual artist Joi T. Arcand is now based in Ottawa. She plays with language, typography and symbols to tell stories and has an accessories line too, called Mad Aunty, that does the same. When she’s not creating, she’s exploring.

Asinabka Film and Media Arts FestivalHandout

Celebrate Indigenous film at the Asinabka Festival

Running Aug. 10-14 at multiple locations in the city, this Indigenous film festival, which features screenings from Indigenous filmmakers around the world, also includes art exhibits and musical performances. “It always brings really exciting and new films to Ottawa audiences, and they usually have really fun community-oriented events, too,” Arcand says. “They have outdoor screenings and lots of fun parties and gatherings.”

Enjoy al fresco art at the Saw Gallery

Arcand recommends this art gallery – and particularly its courtyard, dubbed Club Saw, as a fun place to spend a summer night. “They have really exciting programming. really cutting edge art and events,” she says. “Whether it’s a concert or film event, the outdoor-indoor aspect of Club Saw is really fun.” The gallery also late last year opened its Nordic Lab, a space for artists from Nordic countries, including Canada’s north, to show their work. “They work with a lot of elite artists to bridge the north and the south.”

Tuck in at The Whalesbone

The Elgin Street location is Arcand’s preferred eatery from this restaurant group. “It’s a place that has become the place to go when there’s any kind of life celebrations, whether it’s a birthday or just getting together with friends,” she says. “Getting a couple of dozen oysters and a cocktail there has become an Ottawa staple for me.” Enjoy Ontario beef, Quebec lobster or Labrador scallops on the balmy backyard patio.

Dip into a scoop of Moo Shu Ice Cream

This small-batch scoop shop works with local farmers, brewers, roasters and other foodie makers to create inventive flavours, which Arcand attests to. “They have amazing flavours,” she says. Just a sampling of what might fill your cone: ginger and ground cherry, lime leaf and fresh mint, and Do You Bay Leaf in Magic – a mix of concord grape ice cream and bay leaf ice cream. The menu is constantly being updated with new creations so you may be inclined to make multiple stops.

Moo Shu Ice CreamMoo Shu Ice Cream/Handout

See underground Indigenous art at Central Art Garage

Located in Chinatown, this gallery hosts “really amazing contemporary Indigenous artists that live in Ottawa,” Arcand says. For many artists, this space has become a stepping stone to being shown in much bigger galleries, including the Art Gallery of Guelph and Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and national institutions such as the Crown-Indigenous Relations building. Arcand is one of the artists featured in the gallery’s summer show, Conveyance, which features seven women artists.

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