- Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

When you create something to represent your community – a changing, living place in a dynamic world – how often does it need to be updated to reflect your current reality?

There are many details on Owen Sound's Community Development webpage that will need to catch up with 2021, but it is the Community Video from 2015 that struck me the most.

Great production values and beautiful photography, it is backed by the evocative song “Beautiful Life” sung by Beckon, the duo of Beth Hamilton and Connie Rossiter.

It is narrated by Larissa Yirkiw, a hometown woman who fought back from a serious injury and being cut from the Canadian National Ski Team and raised her own funding to go to the Sochi Olympics to compete in two downhill ski events. An inspirational woman indeed.

But that's where I started to imagine the video differently. How would outsiders see Owen Sound if the 3 minutes and 41 seconds included Jason Crone? Winner of medals at three Paralympic Games including gold in 2015, Jason's neck was broken in a hit from behind in a minor hockey game when he was 15. There is only one Jason Crone, but Owen Sound includes lots of people with disabilities living their lives.

There are things in the video that have changed  downtown since 2015 – Norma Jean's is closed, Macdonald's Flowers has moved to the west hill, City Hall has added glass atriums, and there are no longer horse and carriage rides through the Festival of Northern Lights. The Owen Sound Artists' Co-op moved into the historic McKay building, the Georgian Bay Centre for the Arts opened in the former bingo hall, two more galleries and many new murals were added including the stunning addition on the south wall of the Grey Gallery by Taiwanese artist Raquell Yang.

The city and its downtown are also home to many LGBTQ+ folks and 2nd Avenue East was the location of Grey County’s first-ever Pride parade, which attracted thousands of people to the core.

The Georgian Bay Symphony hired a new director the year the video was made. François Koh, a native of South Korea, has been Music Director while also completing his PhD at the University of Toronto, covering rehearsals of the University of Toronto Symphony Orchestra and participating in concerts as a guest conductor. His retired predecessor John Barnum appears in the video.

Settlers of Chinese heritage have been working and living in Owen Sound since the 1890s, and the storefront where Yummy Yummy is on 10th St East has been homes for businesses owned and operated by Chinese immigrants for the past 100 years.

In one single downtown block in Owen Sound there are a full dozen businesses owned and/or managed by people of colour. Add another block south and there are four more. Local high tech firms like CTRE and KP9 Interactive, and Bruce Power and its vendors, are hiring staff from around the globe. Newcomers and college students from dozens of countries are studying, working and raising families in Owen Sound. 

Physiotherapists, dentists and denturists, medical specialists of all kinds from all over the world have been coming to Grey Bruce Health Services and opening private practices in Owen Sound for well over a decade.

Owen Sound is home to M'Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre and the Métis Nation of Ontario - Grey Owen Sound. The Mosque serves our growing community of Muslims, and Beth Ezekiel Synagogue, a designated building under Ontario’s Heritage Act, and its welcoming local Jewish community, have made Owen Sound attractive for Jews looking to settle outside of the city.

2020 saw as many as a thousand people gather in solidarity with Black Lives Matter at the Black History Cairn, led by Jill Lyman. There is one shot of the cairn in the Community Video, taken during the annual Emancipation Festival. There is only one identifiable person in the image - Bruce Kruger, a white town crier from Bracebridge, in early 18th century European regalia.

The only non-white people in our Community Video are a Nepalese chef (who no longer lives here) serving customers at the Market and a visiting musical act at Harbour Nights.

Watching our Community Video I was easily attracted to the lovely music and happy images. Re-watching, I had to think what it is like to watch this if you do not see yourself represented at all. To take nothing away from the videographers or those who are included in the video, I suggest that a 2021 version aim to reflect Owen Sound as it is today – rich, diverse, and inclusive.






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