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591 Sherbrook Street    Location Map
  

'Helping Hands'


Location: SE corner Sherbrook & Sargent, All Faces

Occupant: Project Neecheewam

District: West End

Neighbourhood: Spence

Artist(s): Erica Holloway

Year: 2005

Sponsors: Neighbourhoods Alive! (Manitoba), West End BIZ

Painters: Alyssa, Niyyaz Ashegh, Natalie Baird, Rhoda Fiddler-Johnson, Alex Genaille, Ashlee Griffith, Gennia Griffith, Miranda Hellesoe, Jenny, Lisa, Brendan Moore, Brianna Moose, Paige Moose, Nicole Petruka, Renee, Robert Ross, Tracia, Molly Whiteside.

 

For the fourth straight year, West End BIZ's Mural Mentorship Program has run in the summer months and is responsible for yet another new Mural in the West End. The summer program has employed a different Mural Mentor each year. In 2005, the mentor is Erica Holloway, a fine arts student at the University of Manitoba. She recruited and worked with almost 20 kids from the neighbourhood; including some from Project Neecheewam, an aboriginal youth crisis center. It is the first Winnipeg Mural that wraps the building on the three available sides PLUS has artwork facing outwards in all four directions.

From all reports it was a tremendous experience for the junior artists, who painted backgrounds, filled in colours on the wall and helped with some of the simpler figures like the white clouds and flowers. The cartoon-like Mural design includes a medicine wheel, regional animals as well as several vignettes of people doing tasks together or helping one another.

Erica Holloway: "With the design, I had to first pick the theme. Kids in the community and similar such things had already been done; so I thought 'what other theme could kids get something out of' and I thought that maybe 'helping' would be a good theme. Kids need help, and everyone can give and get help when it's needed. So I began thinking of how we could show different helping scenes; and later on, where each of those scenes would fit on the wall. Generally from left to right there is a progression of scenes moving from indoors to outdoors; from morning to later in the day, to night."

"Our Mural design this year is a theme of helping others. Because this building is occupied by Project Neecheewam we put in a lot of aboriginal content and customs like the Seven Sacred Teachings. The inclusion of the Seven Sacred Teachings came about as a result of being suggested by one of the kids. Each of the teachings corresponds to the animal with it. For instance, Truth is the Turtle. Six of the seven animals have been incorporated into the design. We left out the Kitch-Sabe as we were unsure of its form. We had conflicting versions."

"The wall was an awkward one for planning a design on, due to its odd makeup. It was tricky. It took me a long time to think on how to use all of this space. I also wanted to give the kids some freedom to express their creativity and to give their opinions. The whole front panel in front of the stairs was entirely the children's ideas and artwork. Many of the kids did self portraits. And a lot of things got added to the design as we went along- like the back wall (Photo 5) with the input and suggestions from Project Neecheewam. The Mural evolved over the summer and ended up being something far more beautiful than it started off as. We tried our best to create a Mural that is cheerful and colourful, and that gives a happy vibe."

"It was an amazing experience. I plan on going into Education; and I did this for the experience. I did have some experience with kids but I learned a lot this summer from these kids in the West End. And they learned too. They learned a lot about art and I learned a lot about how to teach them about art. I was amazed at how much they learned and how enthusiastic they were- to go there every day and spend their summer vacations working on the Mural! The kids were all awesome; and I got very close to them. Every one who worked on the wall left a part of themselves on it."

"It kept me busy for the whole summer. I was working on the design by the end of May; we started painting at the beginning of July and went until about the 20th of August. On the few rainy days we had, we would go inside and work on our drawings."

The Mural was unveiled at a ceremony on October 25, 2005 (see photo 7). During the cermony, Neecheewam Centre Exectutive Director Michael Ateah had praise for the Mural project: "It really puts heart, brightness and pride into the neighbourhood. I've had people come up to me and say that they feel safer in the area because of the Mural."

Included in Holloway's research was information about the Seven Sacred Teachings. This information is reproduced immediately below, and appears here courtesy of the West End BIZ Murals Tours.

LOVE-EAGLE
To feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that one's first love is to be the Great Spirit. He is considered Father of all children, and the giver of human life. Love given to the Great Spirit is expressed through love of oneself, and it is understood that if one cannot love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else. The Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent this law, as the Eagle can reach higher than all creatures in bringing pure vision to the seeker. Through the purveyor of the greatest most powerful medicine, love can also be one of the most elusive of the teachings, as it depends upon a world that acknowledges the importance of spirituality.

RESPECT-BUFFALO
The Buffalo, through giving its life and sharing every part of it's being, showed the deep respect it had for the people. No animal was more important to the existence of Indigenous families than this animal. And it's gift provided shelter, clothing, utensils for daily living. Native people believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed a sustainable relation-ship with the Buffalo resulting in a relationship that was a true expression of respect.

COURAGE-BEAR
The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that prevent us from living our true spirit as Human Beings is a great challenge that must be met with the same vigour and intensity as the mother Bear protecting her cub. Living of the heart and Living of the spirit is difficult, but the Bear's example shows us how to face any danger to achieve these goals.

HONESTY-SABE
Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe. Kitch-Sabe walked among to remind them to be honest to the laws of the Creator and honest to each other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the saying 'There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.' To be truly honest was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself. The Elders would say, 'Never try to be someone else; live true to your spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator made you.'

WISDOM-BEAVER
The building of a community is entirely dependant on gifts given to each member by the Creator and how these gifts are used. The Beaver's example of using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams and lodges expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, they would continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One's spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use. When used properly however, these gifts contribute to the development of a peaceful and healthy community.

HUMILITY-WOLF
Recognizing and acknowledging that there is a higher power than man and it is known as the Creator is to be deemed truly humble. To express deference or submission to the Creator through the acceptance that all beings are equal is to capture the spirit of humility. The expression of this humility is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.

TRUTH-TURTLE
To know truth is to know and understand all of the Teachings as given by the Creator- and to remain faithful to them. It is said that in the beginning, when the Creator made man and gave him the Seven Sacred Teachings, the Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that they would never be forgotten. On the back of a Turtle are 13 moons, each representing the truth of one cycle of the Earth's rotations around the Sun. The shell of the Turtle represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves as a reminder of the will of the Creator.