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'Overdue' recognition for Joni Mitchell set for Sunday Print-ready version

by Matt Olson
Saskatoon StarPhoenix
June 8, 2018

Saskatoon is gearing up for what has been called an "overdue" celebration of a local music legend.

Two plaques will be dedicated to music icon Joni Mitchell, and a newly developed walkway will be named after her.

The City of Saskatoon announced at the end of April that the River Landing walk between Second Avenue and Third Avenue would be named the Joni Mitchell Promenade. The naming ceremony and unveiling of the plaque are set to take place on Sunday.

Ward 6 city councillor Cynthia Block said it's important for both Mitchell and the Saskatoon community that she gets this recognition.

"It's overdue, and I'm glad to see that it's moving forward," Block said. "Her greatness was rooted and nurtured here, and I think that speaks volumes ... about the caring community she grew up in."

The event on Sunday will start at the Broadway Theatre with the unveiling of a plaque commemorating Mitchell and one of her favourite haunts, the Louis Riel Coffee House.

People are invited to walk together from Broadway to River Landing for the revealing of a second plaque for the Joni Mitchell Promenade.

Kirby Wirchenko, executive director of the Broadway Theatre, said it means a lot to the people at the theatre for the plaque to be right outside.

"When you take someone who's really, probably the biggest global name in arts and culture that's ever come from Saskatoon, it's like a no-brainer," Wirchenko said. "It feels good. It feels like it fits."

The theatre has been a community fixture since it was built in the 1940s. Wirchenko said he's heard stories of Mitchell visiting the theatre to see matinees when she was younger.

The City of Saskatoon and businessman Ken Achs, who is funding the project, reached out to the theatre to discuss where the plaque would end up. Wirchenko said the whole process "happened quite quickly" from their initial discussions in April to the plaque being ready for the public unveiling by the beginning of June.

He said the most important part of the plaque is not the celebration on Sunday, but the fixture it creates in the community to remember one of the most renowned artists to come out of Saskatoon.

"The real value is for the next 10, 20, 30 years, that thing's going to be there," he said. "This is the first time there's been some successful Joni Mitchell recognition in town, and it's high time."

The plaque unveiling on Broadway is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday. After a walk from Broadway to River Landing, the ceremony for naming the Joni Mitchell Promenade is set to start at 2:30 p.m.

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Added to Library on June 9, 2018. (3965)


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