Countdown Public Art Project

Honouring survivors of gender-based violence

The Countdown Public Art Project is an Ontario-wide arts initiative that works with communities to create monuments in public spaces to honour those affected by gender-based violence and to imagine, or count down to, a world without gender-based violence. 

“Countdown” was launched in 2016 after the Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County invited ReDefine Arts to bring its vision into being. Since then, over 1500 people have gathered in large and small groups to build 10 pebble mosaics across Ontario.

The Countdown Continues! 2022 web banner, featuring an image of a pebble mosaic

We are proud to announce that in 2022, the Countdown Public Art Project will be returning to work with communities in Hastings Highlands & Lanark County towards the creation of two new pebble mosaic monuments, in continued partnership with Maggie’s/Tamarack Resource Centre & Lanark County Interval House & Community Support!

These two Countdown monuments will succeed the 10 others created with communities in Pembroke, Eganville, Killaloe, Pikwàkanagàn First Nation, Peterborough-Nogojiwanong, North Bay, Carleton Place, Brantford, Almonte & Bancroft since 2016.

“Countdown” is produced and led by ReDefine Arts with local leadership and community and civic partners, and the support of project advisor Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County.

We gratefully acknowledge project funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, operating funding from the Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council, and additional support from EVA-Renfrew County, without which this work would not be possible.

View video highlights and monument locations


What is gender-based violence?

What is gender-based violence, and why do we use this term?

This project began in 2016 with a call to join the countdown to end sexual violence. Since 2019, we have chosen to shift our language to “gender-based violence” or GBV. Some people wonder – why did we make that choice?

GBV refers to any form of violence that is committed against someone because of their gender identity, gender expression, or perceived gender. It is any form of abuse, assault or harassment that can be linked back to societal bias or unequal power dynamics surrounding gender.

Sexual violence disproportionally affects women and girls and is most often (but not always) directed at them because of their gender. Sexual violence is one type of GBV. Other forms of GBV include discrimination, harassment, and physical, economic, and emotional (psychological) abuse.

GBV, as a term, also recognizes violence that is directed at LGBTQQI2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, and two-spirit) and non-binary peoples because of their gender or gender expression.

Some people are more at risk of experiencing gender-based violence because of other forms of discrimination, including racism, colonialism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and poverty.

For the Countdown Public Art Project, we’ve gathered, carried, and placed thousands of stones to create large pebble mosaics that are now public artworks across Ontario. These pebble mosaic monuments honour the resilience of survivors of gender-based violence, and hold space to remember and mourn for those who have not survived.

To learn more about GBV, visit: http://www.canadianwomen.org/the-facts/gender-based-violence/


Countdown Digital Story

Graphic poster that includes the Countdown Public Art Project logo with text that reads, "Digital Story".

The Countdown Digital Story is an evolving online exhibition that is home to audio compositions, photos and videos collected and created since the beginning of the Countdown project in 2016. It focuses on the conversations, writing, art, and relationships that grew and were generated during the whole collaborative process including the creation of a pebble mosaic public artwork unique to each community.

The Digital Story had its soft launch as an online presentation and workshop in October 2021. It is now undergoing improvements and additions, and will be re-launched later in 2022 as a purpose built artistic website.

Current Monuments


Hastings Highlands/Combermere

Local Partner: Tamarack/Maggie’s Resource Centre

Tamarack/Maggie’s Resource Centre was originally formed in response to the closure of the Madawaska Mines in the early 1980’s. Maggie’s evolved over time and as of 2011, continues to operate as a not-for-profit agency, with a volunteer, all female Board of Director’s. The team of women working within the walls of Maggie’s Resource Centre and the Tamarack Program continue to dedicate themselves to serving women (and children) in North Hastings. Services offered include Crisis Intervention, Safety Planning, Transitional Housing Support, Counselling, Safe Placement and transportation for women and their children leaving abusive relationships, Advocacy, and Referrals to health, legal and income support resource centres and advocacy with legal and social services.

Site Coordination Oversight: Tanya MacKinnon – Executive Director at Tamarack/Maggie’s Resource Centre

Site Coordinator: Donna Reid – Women’s Support Worker at Tamarack/Maggie’s Resource Centre

Donna Reid has gained an abundance of experience working with diverse populations over the past twenty years. Returning to college as a mature student she obtained a diploma in Addictions Counselling and Social Service Work. Her career has included work at a treatment facility for women with problem drug and alcohol use, a mobile crisis team and a woman’s shelter for domestic violence. She worked as the Family Matters coordinator for the Edmonton Mental Health Clinic in Alberta, successfully creating a support group for families with loved ones experiencing mental health and addiction issues. Helping women heal is her passion.

Outreach, Promotions & Contributor Support: Eryn Solmes – Women’s Support Worker at Tamarack/Maggie’s Resource Centre

Eryn has recently graduated from Sir Sanford Fleming College for Social Service Work and Mental Health & Addictions. She also went to Trent University for Sociology with a specialization in Criminology. She has experience working with children and adolescents, adults and older adults from her various placement experiences. She is very excited to be starting her career at Maggie’s Resource Centre and as a part of this amazing project.

Elder & Knowledge Keeper: Noreen Tinney

Noreen Tinney, Omāmāwinini Anishinābe Ikwe (Algonquin Anishinābe Woman) from Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini Algonquin First Nation: “I was born and grew up in the Bancroft area. Like many mixed European-Indigenous people, I did not learn about my Indigenous culture, traditions and ceremonies. Thankfully, we have re-established connections with other Algonquin communities and are beginning to learn our culture and language. I am a founding member of the Shawashkong Ikwe Singers, our local Algonquin women’s drumming-singing group.”

Elder & Knowledge Keeper: Ada Tinney

Ada Tinney is a stained glass artist, carver and hand drum maker who has spread Algonquin Cultural Teachings in the North Hastings area schools since 2007. A member of Kijicho Manito Madaouskarini Algonquin First Nation, Ada is employed as Elder/Planner for Algonquin Inòdewiziwin Child and Family Centre based in Maynooth.

Civic Partner – Municipality of Hastings Highlands

Lanark County/Smiths Falls

Local Partner: Lanark County Interval House and Community Support (LCIHCS)

Lanark County Interval House and Community Support (LCIHCS) is the only dedicated anti-violence agency in Lanark County. For 42 years +, the agency has supported victims of all forms of violence via our 24/7 crisis line support, our emergency shelter, our second stage shelter and our diverse community-based counselling, group and advocacy programs and services. LCIHCS is active politically locally and provincially. The agency is creative in our approach and has pursued and has been engaged in several partnerships with community-based roots in education, honouring and awareness. We unveiled our first pebble mosaic with Red Dress Productions in 2019 and we are grateful to be active in working on our second, with a planned location in Almonte Ontario. Most recently, we partnered with the OPP and launched the first victim advocate position of its kind rooted in the agency while working alongside police to improve victim outcomes and experience.

Site Coordination Oversight: Erin Lee – Executive Director at LCIHCS

Erin Lee is an experienced, passionate advocate who has spent decades working to end violence against women. Her work spans anti-violence programs, school board initiatives, provincial associations, and anti-oppression anti-racism provincial trainings. She is a founding member of the See It Name It Change It campaign, and a past member of numerous boards and committees including OAITH, and the Assaulted Women’s Helpline. Currently Erin is the Executive Director of Lanark County Interval House, chair of the Planning Collaborative, Community Issues Committee, recent recipient of the Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario social activism award, member of the Victimology Program Advisory of Algonquin College and a lead on the rural forums work.

Site Coordinator & Contributor Support: Sara Milligan – Administrative Support Worker at LCIHCS

Sara Milligan has been with LCIHCS for about 10 months. She grew up in Almonte, and after spending 4 years on the East coast getting her undergrad, returned to Lanark County in May 2021 to get some work and life experience supporting women and children in the community. After having been at the Almonte mosaic unveiling, Sara is excited to be a part of this project and work with ReDefine Arts and the Smiths Falls community.

Outreach, Promotions & Contributor Support: Emma Kinsman – Social Media & Promotions Specialist at LCIHCS

Emma Kinsman is the Social Media and Promotions Specialist at Lanark County Interval House and Community Supports. She is passionate about feminism, amplifying women’s voices and ending domestic violence. Emma has a background in Public Relations and Social Media and is excited to apply those skills and her creativity to the Countdown Project!

Civic Partner – Town of Smiths Falls

Reflections from Countdown participants

Transcript of reflections

— We’d been dreaming about doing something that brings the idea of sexual violence into the light of day. This opens a conversation in a different way about resiliency, about surviving, about moving forward — sheer numbers.

— We’re talking about the first-ever monument to honour survivors of sexual violence in the little town of Eganville.

— We’re using pebbles or stone as our permanent monument. The elders always tell us that stones are the oldest people on planet earth. They’re our storytellers, they’re our archivists. We can’t, I don’t think, underestimate the grounding-ness of stones.

— It appears massive, but is made up of small, sort of, moving parts — which, I think, aptly describes life.

— What do I see in it? Uh, like, when a drop of water falls and hits the water and creates a series of rings.

— That’s very much what happens, I think, with people who have experienced sexual violence – is that it makes an impact — there is an interruption, an impact on the way you view the world after something like that has happened.

— I felt all through this that it’s been something that I would like to — and I talked to different people, the care, the carrying, I guess, of this — not allowing the what came out of the creation of this or what was evoked from this, to just let it dissipate.

— This has given people a chance to talk about — ah — um — subjects that are, um, hidden and a chance to express themselves in ways that perhaps they hadn’t thought they could before, so it’s wonderful.

— Society is starting to take a stand in starting to stand up against violence against women, so the more awareness we can bring to it, the better.

— Hopefully the project is just the beginning, and I think is just going to be a snowball effect and we’ll see more and more communities take a part in that and having a visual reminder that sexual violence happens, and you know, we’re not going to remain silent any more.


“I Carry”: A video poem by Countdown participants from Brantford, Ontario

Transcript of video poem
[WOMAN SINGING OVER RUNNING RIVER]

— I carry
— I carry
— I carry
— I carry
— I carry gloves in my pockets to warm my hands, hands that reach out in warmth and welcome
— I carry my watch with me to remind me that my time is now
— I carry a key from a house that no longer exists
— I carry the weight of the world
— I carry growth, strength, peacefulness, glee
— I carry determination, whimsy, and delight
— I carry burs, brambles, memories that stick
— I carry a winding river

[WOMAN SINGS]
Lights, lights awaken…

— I carry whispers, stories, histories — I carry songs of heart, I carry truth of vision, hope for future
— Hope for shifts, tidal waves, avalanches
— I carry anger that stops me and anger that moves me forward
— I carry drum, feathers, humour
— I carry the work of believing in change
— I carry heaviness
— I carry stones
— Lightness
— I carry memories of myself…
— I carry soil
— …before and after the flood
— I carry fire
— I let go of the lost years
— I let go of all the lost years

[WOMEN’S VOICES]
— I carry memory, stones, sand, river, and heart
— I carry a winding river

[WOMAN SINGS]
When the lights, the moon and the stars, the nights and the lights and the moon and the stars, where eagles fly the sky

— I carry a vehicle for ancestors
— I carry for my ancestors thoughts of resilience and love
— I carry my ancestors and my ancestors carry me
— Past, present, future, we are one, sending our love and solidarity
— I carry my ancestors. I carry the power of their songs. I carry purpose and hope. And I carry compassion, strength for me, for you, and all the earth.

Countdown Team


Anna Camilleri – Lead Artist & Public Artwork Designer

Anna Camilleri has been working with performance, image, and text for 25 years. An interdisciplinary theatre artist and designer, her tactile and sculptural works are primarily expressed through 20+ public artworks. Her book works have been recognized with distinctions from the LAMBDA Literary Foundation, the Association of Independent Publishers, and the American Library of Congress. Anna is Artistic Co-Director of ReDefine Arts.

Tristan R. Whiston – Lead Artist & Digital Story Audio Composer

Tristan R. Whiston is a Toronto-based theatre director, dramaturge, writer, performer, audio and community artist. He has written and directed five audio documentaries for CBC, including Middle C, which won the 2007 Premios Ondas Award for International Radio. Tristan’s film pINCO Triangle was honoured with three 2018 Queer North Awards, including Best Canadian Film. He is Artistic Co-Director of ReDefine Arts.

Katie Yealland – Production Lead & Installation Director

For 20 years, Katie Yealland has worked in the commercial film industry primarily as a grip (film technician), and since 2010, Katie has worked with ReDefine Arts in various roles including community artist, live video animation, and production lead.

Roberta Della-Picca – Associate Lead Artist, Elder & Storykeeper

Roberta epitomizes that wise adage, “to serve one’s people, there could be no greater honour”. A warm, sensitive, socially-conscious member of the community, she has dedicated her passion, devotion and commitment to the expressive arts for health and wellness, and community engagement, as an artist, workshop and manual designer and co-facilitator.  She has shown herself to be a powerful force for positive change, helping to make communities more vibrant, safer and even more wonderful places to live, work and co-exist. 

Andy Trull – Associate Lead Artist & Public Art Production Manager

Andy is Artistic Co-Director of the Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio (OV-CAOS), weaving creative arts into the life of rural community. His artistic practice combines poetry, woodwork, and land-based arts. He has a PhD from Concordia University in the Philosophy and Poetics of Participation and lives in Killaloe, Ontario with his partner Kathy amongst their hand-made buildings and gardens. 

Wy Joung Kou – Associate Artist & Digital Story Designer

Wy Joung Kou is a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist with a practice rooted in frameworks of disability justice. Their body of work spans mosaic, poetry, sound, movement, performance, video, and installation. Wy-J is the Associate Artistic Director of ReDefine Arts, a performing member of Raging Asian Womxn Taiko Drummers, the inaugural winner of a JRG Grant for Artists with Disabilities (2018), and an ILGBT Artist Residency alum. 

Megan Wilk – Program & Access Coordinator

Megan Wilk is a queer, new generation settler with lived experiences of disability. Their professional experience working with and for Indigenous, racialized, 2SLGBTQIA+, D/deaf, blind, neurodiverse, and other disability artists and arts organizations has furthered their dedication to learning and un-learning, relationship building, and practices of care. Megan is the Program & Access Assistant of ReDefine Arts.

Margo Charlton – Evaluation Consultant

Margo’s work in the arts spans over three decades, most recently, as a program and research manager at Toronto Arts Council/Toronto Arts Foundation. Projects include: a public survey about arts engagement; tool kit on arts accessibility in parks; and SSHRC-funded study of the impact of the arts on Toronto neighbourhoods. In Winnipeg, Margo founded a community-based theatre. This work connected her to community activists and popular theatre practitioners in Brazil, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama and across Canada. As a consultant, she conducts program evaluations and strategic plans for arts and culture organizations and arts funders. Margo believes that the arts are an essential part of personal and community development.

Tariq Sami – Graphic Designer

Tariq Sami is a Designer and Illustrator who has focused on creating innovative art and design strategies for arts and not-for-profit organizations. His client engagement has consisted almost entirely of community-based organizations which operate under principles of equity and social justice. As an experienced project manager he has coordinated large-scale projects from initial concept development, identity branding, art direction, and to the final stages of print, production and publication.

2022 Graphic Design Credits

Tariq Sami – Countdown logo, monument plaques and postcards

Wy Joung Kou – Countdown Colouring Book and promotional materials

Locations


Almonte Old Town Hall

14 Bridge Street
Almonte, Ontario
6-foot diameter, 2021

Brantford mosaic

Brantford & District Labour Centre

1100 Clarence Street South
Brantford, Ontario
6-foot diameter, 2019

Centennial Park mosaic

Centennial Park

1T0
Eganville, Ontario
10 x 20 feet, 2016

Fisher Street Parkette

Fisher Street
North Bay, Ontario
6-foot diameter, 2019

Millennium Park

166 Hastings Street North
Bancroft, Ontario
6-foot diameter, 2021

Millenium Park

130 King Street
Peterborough, Ontario
6-foot diameter, 2019

Pikwàkanagàn First Nation mosaic

Minopimàdiz-i Gamik

Pikwàkanagàn First Nation
1643 Mishomis Inamo
Golden Lake, Ontario
4 x 3 feet, 2016

Station Park mosaic

Station Park

Queen Street
Killaloe, Ontario
4 x 3 feet, 2016

Lanark County mosaic

Town Hall Square Park

15 Mill Street
Carleton Place, Ontario
6-foot diameter, 2019

Handful of pebbles

Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County

Address unlisted
4 x 3 feet, 2016


Photos

View Countdown images on Flickr

Videos

Watch Countdown videos on Vimeo

Funders: Ontario Trillium Foundation, Government of Ontario, EVA–Renfrew County, Women’s Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council.