A large public mural in Selkirk, Man. dedicated to the legacy of residential schools has been completed and its artists have added a new section to commemorate the students whose remains were found in Kamloops, B.C., earlier this month.
“When that news came about… we had to speak to that. We had to commemorate those spirits, so what we did is we created the 215 spirit orbs representing each child that was found,” said artist Jeannie Red Eagle.
They found a home for the project on 260 Superior Ave., and added a new section that includes 215 blue orbs surrounded by the colour orange to honour the lives of those whose remains were found.
“It was really emotional for me because … I painted every one of these and then each one has a fingerprint. So for me, I feel like I am connected,” she said.
Learning experience for artists
The project, funded by Heritage Canada, is the result of months of work from Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists in the area.
“They say a picture is worth a thousand words,” Anderson said. “Well, telling a full story about something that deserves to have light shed on it, that cannot be denied now that it is in story form … it’s been amazing to be able to do that.”
“I’m 25 years old and there was still a residential school open in my lifetime,” Anderson said. Learning that and getting to learn more about the teachings has been also amazing, considering it’s not something very talked about in my family due to what happened.”
While more people continue to learn about residential schools, Metis artist Ashley Christiansen says that public art will play a vital role in peoples education.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t even know that these things happened and that they were happening recently… It’s pretty unnerving, but people should know about it,” Christiansen said.
Red Eagle and Stranger will be holding a pipe ceremony outside the mural’s location on Superior Avenue. She said that people are welcome to visit, or have the option of watching the unveiling ceremony on the Mashkawigaabawid Abinoojiiyag Stand Strong Children Facebook page.