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Patient gifts a piece of home to Indigenous Cancer Program

 
Photo of a custom, resin-cast checkerboard and pieces made by Tania Scott.

Jennifer Burmingham, a patient at the Indigenous Cancer Program at The Ottawa Hospital since June 2023, hopes a special piece of interactive art will help remind Inuit patients of home.  

Jennifer commissioned a customized, resin-cast checkerboard and pieces by friend and artist Tania Scott. The board and its pieces were cast with flowers handpicked by Jennifer and Tania on Baffin Island. The flowers – including Nunavut’s floral emblem, purple saxifrage – grow throughout Nunavut and are detailed on cards which accompany the game.  

“It’s to bring a piece of home,” says Jennifer. “It’s an actual piece of the land that was there before we picked it and [patients] can see it. That makes a big difference.” 

Photo of Jennifer Burmingham, a cancer patient, smiling and sitting in a chair while holding a painting and small bag, with a resin-cast checkerboard set and small cards on an ottoman in front of her.
Jennifer Burmingham in the Windòcàge Room at the General Campus the day she gifted the checkerboard to the Indigenous Cancer Program.

A long way from home 

Jennifer has been receiving treatment for metastasized breast cancer at The Ottawa Hospital since she was flown by MedEvac to Ottawa on June 2. In all, she spent 22 days at The Ottawa Hospital, 40 days in a hotel and 20 days at Larga Baffin, a lodge for Nunavut residents staying in Ottawa for medical care. She didn’t go home again until late August, making it the longest time she had every spent away from home. 

Interactive art brings hope 

Jennifer wanted to gift the interactive artwork to The Ottawa Hospital after noticing a gap in Inuit representation in artwork and cultural items. Checkers is a familiar game that patients and families can play with if they’re bored. The cards detailing each of the flowers used add an option to play a matching game. 

“It may bring out a bit of positivity if they’re not doing so well and they see a piece of home,” she says. “It brings out hope that ‘I could see that again.’  It makes a big difference when you can see a piece of home when you’re away from home.”  

Jennifer is now completing chemotherapy in Ottawa and hopes to return home soon.   

You can view Tania Scott’s art at on tundramoon.ca

About The Ottawa Hospital’s journey of reconciliation 

The Ottawa Hospital is working with First Nation, Inuit and Métis partners to better ensure all campuses are reflective of the people and territories we serve. 

Resources for Indigenous patients and families 

Indigenous partnerships and The Ottawa Hospital’s journey of reconciliation 

 
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