As part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021, Arts Etobicoke is pleased to invite artists from the community to work on a community place-making art project called Sites of Significance. This is a paid opportunity and artists will be compensated in accordance with the CARFAC rates.

Arts Etobicoke with lead partners Lakeshore Arts and Albedo Informatics will work with six lead artists to explore sites of historical and cultural importance by digitally animating them using the LARGE platform, a location-based Augmented Reality (AR) app. Artists do not need extensive digital experience to participate as education and professional development for selected artists are built into the project. Our lead Indigenous artists Susan Blight, Philip Cote, and Nadya Kwandibens will be identifying sites significant to Indigenous culture and history across the three wards in Etobicoke. 

Through this open call, we are inviting three BIPOC or newcomer artists to each identify and animate one site of historical importance to marginalized and equity-seeking community members in Etobicoke. Artists will interpret, re-imagine, and highlight these sites through digital art creation. All six sites will be marked with a permanent signpost or plaque commemorating the project and describing its significance along with instructions to access the commissioned digital artwork through the AR app. Delivery of an artist talk or community presentation is also a requirement for this project. 

It is important to highlight  and celebrate these sites throughout the Etobicoke community to bring awareness to important and perhaps overlooked histories, stories, and places of cultural significance to Indigenous and other marginalized community members. We are seeking proposals from artists to animate sites in each of the three Etobicoke wards. We are open to any location/proposal that highlights a hidden, unknown, forgotten, or undocumented site of significance to the Etobicoke community (past or present). Some of the sites we have identified can be seen below. This list is by no means exhaustive and we encourage proposals for activating other sites as well. Please reach out to Sair@artsetobicoke.com if you have any questions about site eligibility. The deadline for submissions is Sunday, January 17, 2021.

Local Businesses

Oftentimes, Independent businesses set up by members of the immigrant communities become important sites where commerce and culture intersect to create a community meeting-place. 

  • Albion Islington Square Centre – Gold marketplace
    Located in the Rexdale neighbourhood, the Albion Islington Square Centre is a large shopping plaza dominated by independent gold jewelry stores that serve the many immigrant communities, especially from the South Asian diaspora, in North Etobicoke. Gold has deep-rooted significance in South Asian cultures, and the presence of these shops creates a cultural resonance for these communities. 
  • Istar Somali Restaurant near Dixon and Islington
    Istar was opened by Mahamed Aden Elmi’s mother, Istarlin Ali Mohamed, in 1999 after emigrating from Somalia. Today, Istar is more than a restaurant serving traditional and fusion Somali delicacies, it has grown to become a community hub for the large Somali community residing in the Dixon Road neighbourhood. Read more from West End Phoenix.

Religious Sites 

Religious sites are sacred spaces for new immigrants to meet people who share the same faith and have a cultural and spiritual significance for members of those communities. They are often the first place people turn to when arriving in a new community. 

  • Bosnian Islamic Association Gazi Husrev-beg (BIAGH) near East Mall
    Founded in 1977, BIAGH servers the community that belong to the Bosniak tradition and hosts events that showcase Bosniak folklore, sport, and culture.
  • BAPS Hindu Temple
    BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is a volunteer-run religious space serving communities of the Hindu faith and is renowned for its unique hand-carved marble, limestone, and sandstone architecture.
  • Bais Olom – Roselawn Lambton Cemetery on Royal York
    Known as the Lambton Mills cemetery is one of the most picturesque sites of significance for Jewish community in Etobicoke. Read more from the Etobicoke Historical Society.

Community Sites

  • Chinese market gardens, operated by the families who lived and worked on the farmlands surrounding Montgomery’s Inn. Read more from the Etobicoke Historical Society.
  • 12 O’Connorvale Ave plaque commemorating the previous home of Wiliam Lafferty, an African-American who came to Toronto in the 1830s, escaping from bondage and racism in the United States. Read more from the Ontario Historical Society.

Example of a potential project: There is a lot of room for creative exploration in this project, however we thought an example of a potential augmentation may help start your creative process. If an artist decides to work on the Albion Islington Square Market (a landmark location for South Asian’s to buy gold jewelry), an option  could be to photograph or illustrate large scale jewelry pieces and place them all around the square to be discovered by audience members through the use of the AR app. Creating giant versions of these culturally significant jewelry pieces as a way to tell a story of cultural importance to the South Asian community. Artists from any background or discipline can choose to create work that aligns with their own practice which can then be augmented digitally through the AR technology. 

Important dates: 

Submission deadline: Sunday, January 17
Notification of results: Friday, February 5

Selection process: A diverse panel of jury members will use a set of criteria that includes evaluating the artist’s capability, proof of artistic practice, past work, and how the proposal fits with the project’s goals, expectations and the community context with respect to the proposed site. The jury is composed of experienced and practicing artists, public and community arts program managers, and technology experts.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Artists living/ working in Etobicoke (have any present or past connection to Etobicoke, for eg: went to school, grew up, lived here upon arriving to Canada, or worked in Etobicoke)
  • Have a professional art practice
  • Have a historical and cultural understanding of the chosen site (this site may or may not be from the list provided above)
  • A willingness to work in a digital art format within the scope of our chosen Augmented Reality platform

Submission Procedure: Please submit an application form including an artist CV and 2-5 examples of your past work.


Sites of Significance is presented by Arts Etobicoke with lead partners Lakeshore Arts and Albedo Informatics