Anyone involved with Indigenous reconciliation couldn’t have predicted the importance of its healing methods during COVID-19. However, a new multicoloured mural created as part of a local reconciliation process has also become a beacon of hope during these uncertain times.
“It’s kind of appropriate,” says Rev. Laurie McKnight of St. Paul’s-Eastern United Church, on Daly at Cumberland in Sandy Hill, where the mural named “Lighting the Way Forward” temporarily resides in the sanctuary.
The brainchild of Patrick Wilmot, a Mi’kmaq and a member at St. Paul’s-Eastern, the mural was the final project of three workshops facilitated by the church. Started in April 2019, it incorporates the ideas of the members of several local United churches and Indigenous residents, “to help them express what reconciliation means,” says McKnight.
Wilmot has created other murals with the youth and their parents at The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, on Montreal Road.
Through the use of symbols, such as ravens and northern lights, the centre of the approximately four-by-four square acrylic mural expresses the personal— what is closest to the heart, and the outer part is the cosmos. Local métisse artist Marie-Claude Charland co-ordinated the project. Others integral to it were McKnight, Rev. Cheryl Gaver, and Claire Savage, a student minister at Aylwin Pastoral Charge (Low and Kazabazua, Quebec).
The mural is meant to be shared, so hopefully will be displayed at Ottawa City Hall and libraries, as well as at Wabano and local churches after the pandemic restrictions are over or relaxed. For now, McKnight will open the church sanctuary to groups of up to four people who wish to see it.