Born in a Catholic household, MC Snow’s childhood was distinctively marked by stories of saint Kateri Tekakwitha.
With every tale and prayer, the Kahnawa’kehró:non artist grew more enthralled by the holy presence beloved by many in the community.
“I’ve been wanting to do a representation of Kateri since I was a kid,” said Snow. “So it was very inspiring for me to finally be able to do a statue of her.”
On September 30, the inaugural National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, also known as Orange Shirt Day, the local sculptor saw their artwork unveiled at the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal.
“This is the biggest art project that I have ever been asked to work on, so it holds a lot of meaning to me,” said Snow. “To be able to unveil it on that particular day was also really heavy – it was just an emotionally-charged moment for me.”
The honour of having their application selected to design the statue conflated with the realization of the weight of the task at hand.
Constraints brought on by the pandemic challenged Snow in realizing the project within a shorter time period, as well as resorting to materials they usually don’t use.
“I worked on this for four months, and it was a really long process of first just researching all the different stories I could find about Kateri,” explained Snow. “I researched some of the miracles that are attributed to her and how she came to be canonized. I put all of that into the building of this statue.”
As a saint who lived during the 17th century, much is left to the imagination when picturing Kateri. But through fruitful research, endless creativity and a handful of inspiration, Snow began to see a face in the water-based fibreglass effigy.
“When I kept imagining what she could have been like, I was also using references from a lot of my aunties, my daughters and most of the other women in my family,” explained the artist. “This all crossed my mind as I was in the process of trying to give her a face and give her hands.”
On September 30, when a cloak was lifted to reveal the five-foot tall detailed sculpture, Snow recounted feeling choked up from the overwhelmingness of the day.
“It was an honour for me, but when I got up on stage, it became very hard to be there,” they said.
From a child to an adult, Snow continues to be reminded of the significance the saint holds for multiple people, including many within the community itself.
“It was a good day to be remembering all of these things because there a lot of people looking straight to Kateri for their healing.”
Laurence Brisson Dubreuil, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door