St Kateri Mural’s opening with Grandmother Irene Compton (first nations Saulteaux from the Keeseekoose band in Saskatchewan) and Aurora Jade (Plains Cree from Peepeekisis First Nation)

On March 25 Grandmother Irene Compton conducted an opening ceremony for the mural on Indigenous Womanhood painted by MASC artist Aurora Jade in collaboration with 200 students from St. Matthew High School. The mural has been permanently installed at the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Elementary School.  

In Aurora’s words: “You are beautiful, you are strong, you are capable. You are not alone. I decided on those words to represent women standing together, strength, and unity. It is often you can feel alone especially as an indigenous woman“.   

Mural description as shared by Aurora: 

The image depicts mother nature, the strawberry plants and growth to honour the connection and stewardship of this land. The piece also depicts the red road. On the red road there are baby footprints that slowly turn into more mature adult moccasins with each step (these moccasins grow in size and have the corresponding beadwork and designs to represent the walk of life) .  

The woman in the middle of the red road has a small family and represents motherhood and strength, as well as the nurturing and caring nature of youth. She wears the same ribbon skirt as the woman at the end of the road because they are the same woman.  

At the end of the road, she has white hair and is being welcomed into the spirit world by the ancestors above her. I wanted the sky woman to wear a red dress to acknowledge our MMIWG and sisters in the spirit world.  

Underneath the sky woman is a sky dome design which is the spirit world above us. The night sky above includes the moon which has 13 dots inside to represent 13 moons to show our connection to grandmother moon as well as our moon time and the passing of seasons and time. The sky has a gradient of night to day, sun to moon. 

The Elder and Artist in Residency Program is an arts education program that pairs an Indigenous Elder with an Indigenous artist and offers students an in-depth and enriched artistic experience, providing an alternative lens to understand Indigenous ways of Knowing, Thinking, Feeling, and Being. The project introduces students to Indigenous culture through the arts. The Elder introduces students to Indigenous teachings through storytelling and songs, exploring concepts like land-based knowledge, the sacredness of water, holism, interrelatedness, reciprocity, Turtle Island, and the Medicine Wheel, among other teachings. Each project results in a mural installed permanently in the school.

This project was produced in partnership with the OCSB Indigenous Education team and the OCSB Arts consultants. We are grateful for the financial support of the Ottawa Community Foundation through the MASC Reconciliation Legacy Program.