Honouring the Children mural being unveiled in Lebret a source of healing, says artist

·2 min read
Darren Pratt stands in front of a mural being unveiled Tuesday which he painted for survivors of the residential school system with the spirit of reconciliation in mind. (Sue Bland/Facebook - image credit)
Darren Pratt stands in front of a mural being unveiled Tuesday which he painted for survivors of the residential school system with the spirit of reconciliation in mind. (Sue Bland/Facebook - image credit)

A massive mural spanning three walls of the White Calf gym in Lebret, Sask., dedicated to honour the victims of residential school is being unveiled Tuesday.

One wall of the mural shows an enormous eagle with its wings outstretched, hovering over a group of silhouettes holding hands and what appears to be a row of tipis. Below that are orange hand prints separated from the people and the tipis by an arrow that runs the length of the wall.

The mural is being painted in the spirit of reconciliation.

"It goes deep, because it's not only me I'm doing this for, it's for all the ones that went in through these residential schools and suffered and the outcome of the racial part that we live with," Darren Pratt, the mural artist, told Stefani Langenegger, host of CBC's The Morning Edition.

"It's a lot of healing for myself … so I put a lot of my feelings in too."

Pratt said those feelings included the pain and rage that was brought into his home and the art has helped work toward forgiveness for his "dad not being there because of the memories and the torture that they lived within those schools."

He spoke with people who had gone through the residential school system who heard their pain and he wanted to bring that pain to the wall as well.

The unveiling of the mural comes less than a week after the Pope came to Canada to apologize for Catholics who supported the colonization mentality of the governments responsible for oppression of Indigenous people.

"It's an honour to be chosen to paint that and leave all that crap that was brought on, into my life, and stop the intergenerational trauma crap that they brought into our homes and to heal so that my children don't have to live with that stuff," Pratt said.

The Starblanket Cree Nation raised funds for the mural in a pair of walkathons on July 1, both this year and last.

The public is invited to add to the art piece by stamping their own hand prints on the mural.

"It was actually to bring our people together, not only our people but to bring all nationalities together and that's why I painted that arrow with all the nationality colours on there," Pratt said.

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