Bringing reconciliation to Universite de Montreal

Last Friday (September 30), at the Universite de Montreal’s Faculty of Law, a mural was unveiled illustrating the transfer and preservation of Indigenous knowledge and wisdom.

The mural is part of a collaboration entitled Inspiring Dialogues between Sacred Fire Productions and Creativo Arts Collective that brings together Indigenous artists from across Canada with Indigenous and Metis artists from South America.

Young Kanehsata’kehró:non Sage Harrington, 12, was invited to help paint the mural along with Atikamekw artists Eruoma Awashish and Jacques Newashish, as well as international tattoo artist and muralist from Chile Pablo Gomez.

"I feel really good. The other people that came were amazing artists. I was a bit nervous, but then it turned out to be fine,” said Harrington. “There were all amazing people there and nice people, friendly people, cool people.”

Harrington’s father, Al, said that he was contacted by Sacred Fire Production a couple of weeks ago inquiring if his daughter, a young emerging artist, would be willing to participate.

“So, I asked Sage, and she said yes. This collaboration with the University of Montreal is to bring awareness about Indigenous worldviews about the law,” said Al. “For me, it’s really something to see this. We’re still here. It’s just a beautiful mural.”

According to Evgenia Ginsburg, the administrative assistant at Sacred Fire Productions, the collaboration will take place over a two-year period and will include four large-scale murals. The first mural was painted in Trois Rivieres. The Universite de Montreal mural is the second.

“Each mural will have its own history linked to the territory on which it is realized with the international Aboriginal artist and the Canadian Aboriginal artists. The creation of the mural will also be filmed by a filmmaker to make a promotional video as well as documentary sequences with each participating artist,” said Ginsburg.

Sacred Fire Productions is an Indigenous arts organization that aims to build bridges between Indigenous artists and audiences in order to create spaces for people to come together and better understand Indigenous arts and culture.

The University’s mural depicts two hands, one handing over the feather of knowledge to the other.

“Each arm has different Indigenous symbols representing different Indigenous cultures, and the feather exchanged symbolizes the importance of togetherness and equality,” she said.

“This is a very powerful message we hope inspires the future generations studying the law.”

Al said that although Harrington was shy and a bit intimidated at first, she was eager to paint and work on her first-ever big art project.

“It was something to watch her as a father sitting there, thinking about intergenerational trauma with our families and how significant it is to see our youth be part of this change,” he said.

She explained that the artists guided her through the process of painting the mural. She said that it was an honour to paint with them.

“Yes, it was quite amazing to be asked. I would definitely do it again if I get the chance,” said Sage.

Marisela Amador, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door