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tually never wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a veterinarian,” said Tossounian. “But I was always doing art andmaking things and selling them tomy friends in school.The next thing you know I was taking art classes in College just until I got to University and then the next thing you know I was opening up my own art gallery. It was all kind of seren- dipitous.” Now, she works mostly fromhome in Bourget but also has a studio in Ottawa and gets most of her business these days through private commissions. “Everything is so digital nowadays that actually people are reverting back to wanting something real,” said Tossounian. Tossounian has led an interesting life, to say the least. She was convicted of arson in 2012 in connection to a fire that destroyed her art studio and spent almost two years in the Ottawa Carlton Detention Centre. She has always maintained her innocence, and the case is presently up for review in which the Court of Appeal has set her conviction aside and ordered a new trial. While in detention, Tossounian became a self-journalist – documenting everything she saw and heard – and gathered the stories of the women shemet there. After her release, she self-published those documentations into three novels and became an advocate for justice reformand criminalized women. Tossounianwas also one of the first people to have amedical marijuana club in Kitchener, Ontario, working with Health Canada and pushing for it to become legal. “Being in a

Jeanette Tossounian, a Canadian artist fromOntario whomoved to Bourget a few years ago, is in themidst of painting amural along the Prescott-Russell Recreation Trail near the Bourget Pavilion. This project is in collaboration with the Prescott-Russell Trail Corporation, the City of Clarence- Rockland and othermembers of the com- munity.The Trail Corporation and the City put up money for the paint and supplies and, for the rest, Tossounian has started a GoFundMe page. “Most artists will raise the money in ad- vance of the project, but I just really wanted to do this,” said Tossounian. “So I figured I’ll just go and do it and see what I can come up with along the way.” Tossounian takes this laid back attitude with most – she has an idea in her mind of what she wants to paint on themural but nothing set in stone. So far, she has painted a beaver dam, some Canadian flags, a train (to represent the Bourget Train Station) and a moose. The only aspect Tossounian is certain of is that the focus of themural is the recreational trail of Bourget through the years. Other than that, she is doing research on some of its history and simply letting herself be inspired by the things she sees and the people she encounters along the way. Tossounian has been an artist her entire life, even when she did not know it yet. “I ac-

Jeanette Tossounian, une artiste canadienne née en Ontario et qui habite à Bourget depuis quelques années, est en train de peinturer lamuraille le long du sentier récréatif de Prescott-Russell, à côté du Pavillon de Bourget. Son projet est en collaboration avec la corporation des sentiers de Prescott-Russell, la Cité de Clarence-Rockland et d’autres membres de la communauté. Mme Tossounian encourage les gens à la visiter durant la journée, pendant qu’elle travaille sur la muraille, pour discuter de leurs idées. Le but est de créer quelque chose pour toute la communauté et elle espère finir pour la fin de l’été. —photo Alexia Marsillo

relationship with someone who is on the cutting edge of a lot of just general human respect and decency issues and how we look at other people and their pasts blows me away,” said Matt Paul, Tossounian’s life partner. However, Tossounian has presently set aside some of her activism in order to just

focus on her art. “Right now, I’m really just working on the mural and I go back and forth between things when I have time for them or when an issue I care about comes up,” said Tossounian. For this summer, at least, Tossounian’s cause is themural along the Recreation Trail in Bourget; giving back to a community she now calls her home.


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