Mosaic hopes to capture fear, isolation and hope following triple-murder inquest

·2 min read
The mosaic depicts a hill, a large tree and three chickadees. Anna Camilleri, who worked alongside her team at ReDefine Arts, spoke to community members about what they’d like to see represented in the artwork.   (Katie Yealland - image credit)
The mosaic depicts a hill, a large tree and three chickadees. Anna Camilleri, who worked alongside her team at ReDefine Arts, spoke to community members about what they’d like to see represented in the artwork. (Katie Yealland - image credit)

On the seventh anniversary of the deaths of three women in and around Wilno, Ont., an eight-foot-wide pebble mosaic was unveiled in Barry's Bay, Ont., on Thursday.

With the fall weather setting in, a crowd gathered to reflect on the lives of Anastasia Kuzyk, Nathalie Warmerdam and Carol Culleton.

The three women were killed on Sept. 22, 2015, by Basil Borutski.

He had known all of them and had a criminal history of choking Kuzyk and threatening Warmerdam's family — both women were his former partners. The three murders led to a coroner's inquest that took place over the summer.

The mosaic depicts a hill, a large tree and three chickadees.

"The desire from community members was to reflect both the isolation of the region [and] the trauma of the experience," Anna Camilleri, the artist and designer behind the work, told CBC Radio's All in a Day. 

"But for the mosaic to also really communicate hope."

Chickadees chosen purposely

Camilleri, who worked alongside her team at ReDefine Arts, spoke to community members about what they'd like to see represented in the artwork.

That duality of the land — the isolation and the spirituality many draw from nature — are elements Camilleri hoped to layer into the work.

While other birds came up during those conversations, chickadees were chosen not only because they're endemic to the region.

"They're birds that people see every day," Camilleri said. "And they're real communicators. Chickadees communicate danger to one another and to other animals."

Her mosaic at Water Tower Park comes alongside multiple small community-generated mosaics that were made in conjunction.

JoAnne Brooks works with the Renfrew County chapter of End Violence Against Women, which worked to make the artwork possible alongside other groups.

"We realized that with the inquest upon us in June of 2022, we couldn't just have that," Brooks said. "We needed to have an art component."

Following the unveiling, a Take Back the Night rally organized by the Women's Sexual Assault Centre of Renfrew County was held.

Camilleri said talking to community members, many of whom had vivid memories of that day seven years ago, was challenging.

During workshops, people described to her how they had been in classrooms, hiding under desks, since little else was known beyond that someone was moving through the region harming people that day.

"There was a lot of drafting and reflecting and then [some] very quiet time when I was just building and working and able to have this experience," she said.

"And reflect on how profound the project is and has been, and the journey to it."