Sandy Hill has always recognized Canada’s greats. We have a park named after Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook, streets named after Wilfrid Laurier and the first Chief Justice, William Osgoode, as well as a historic movie theatre named after Colonel John By, who built the famous Rideau Canal.
Building on this legacy, two members of Action Sandy Hill are hoping to pay tribute to the thousands of front-line and essential workers who kept our shelves stocked, tended to our children and elderly, and cared for the sick throughout the pandemic.
On September 20, Stéphanie Plante and Susan Khazaeli both members of ASH reached out to the City of Ottawa to begin the process of renaming Wilfrid Laurier Park on Chapel Street to Cindy Mitchell Park. For those who don’t know, Cindy was the long-time director of Bettye Hyde Cooperative Early Learning Centre, located on Blackburn Avenue. Under Cindy’s leadership and vision, Bettye Hyde is not just daycare, but an extension of a child’s home. Thousands of “children” (now adults) and their parents can attest to the tireless energy and enthusiasm she has dedicated to early childhood education for over 30 years.
As of today, Bettye Hyde has seven dedicated staff and a full-time cook. It is also important to recognize Cindy’s insistence that Bettye Hyde be a place where there was fair compensation and health benefits for the staff in a field where such things are a rarity.
The goal of naming a park after Cindy is threefold. First, it would honour a person who has devoted endless time and energy to Sandy Hill’s youngest residents thus ensuring that thousands of families can resume their careers while knowing their children are safe and in good hands. Second, it helps to increase the representation of women in the topography of the City of Ottawa. When you count the number of commemorative names in our city including streets, pools, community centres, parks, libraries, arenas and bridges, only 12% are named after women something both Susan and Stéphanie are hoping to rectify. Lastly, Cindy has done much to improve the status of vulnerable minorities through the refugee sponsor group, Everyone’s Sister. Given Laurier’s racist policies as well as the fact that 29% of Sandy Hill residents identify as BIPOC, renaming the park aims to better reflect the openness and values of Sandy Hillers.
If anyone has any feedback regarding the Cindy Mitchell Park, please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. We like to think that Sandy Hill is a community that cares for the caregivers and we cannot think of a better tribute than dedicating a public space to Cindy.