637 Main Street
Photos 1-5: Finished Mural.
Photos 6-8: At Mural Unveiling.
Photos 9-11: In Progress.
Location: NE corner Main & Logan; South Face
Occupant: Main Street Project Shelter
District: City Centre
Neighbourhood: Civic Centre
Artist(s): Peatr Thomas, Mike Valcourt (both unsigned)
Sponsors: Protect Our People MB
Chris Redekop (Vincent Design): "I reached out to Mike and Peatr about a
month ago (i.e., June 2021) and we were cruising around for a highly visible spot in the
central part of the city that made sense as a location. I took a bunch of shots of various
locations and showed them to the campaign leaders to see what they thought; and their
main choice was this building! High traffic area, huge empty wall, just recently repainted
(see photo 9). I reached out to Anastasia (Main Street Project) and she handled all of the
approvals for us to paint their building."
"We supported the designs that Peatr and Mike conceptualized independently. The
Mural design was their own. The colour swatches used with the syllabics were directly
from the campaign of ProtectOurPeopleMB. ProtectMB is the GENERAL public
provincial campaign. ProtectOurPeopleMB is the Indigenous version of that. It's really
focussed on getting vaccines to First Nations communities. The working group that's
leading the strategic goals of the campaign are all representatives of different First Nations
governance organizations. The people that have been advocating and speaking on behalf
of the campaign are all these young First Nations individuals involved."
"The campaign already had a brand established. There are campaign posters on various
bus shelters that you can see when driving around. Peatr pulled the colours from the
campaign, and also the star blanket motif."
Peatr Thomas: "I was approached my ProtectOurPeopleMB about doing a Mural
for them. I always look into the places that ask me to do work for them- to see what
they're about and their background and if their goal is in the right place. I don't want
anything to be misrepresented in the work that I do. I talked to Chris about what they
were about and also to get to know him personally. Once I got the message about what
they were about I said to myself 'these guys are OK!'"
"Main Street Project were glad to give us the wall right here. Shortly after they reached
out to me they also reached out to Mike Valcourt; and we decided that we wanted to
collaborate on it. We had already collaborated on the Daphne Odjig Tribute Mural,
Thunderbird Woman on Ellice (select 400 Spence in address lookup box), and one other
floor Mural inside the WAG. [Ed. Note- Peatr Thomas also worked with Mike Valcourt
in 2017 on Mike's 'Nibaa' Mural (select 171 Princess (2) from address lookup box in
RIP section of this site)]."
"Mike and I tossed around some ideas of what to do here. I really wanted to do syllabics-
something I had been putting off for awhile. I presented this idea to him and he was
100% down with it, so we went for it!"
"Now the syllabics on the wall reads 'Nanakachiishinam (na-na-ka-chii-shi-nam)'. This
translates to 'Protect Us/People' from Anishinaabewomin. Credit for this translation goes
to Virginia Sky from Miskooseepi."
"The word Anishinaabewomin refers to the LANGUAGE of the Anishinaabe people. I am
Anishinaabe; my Mother is Anishinaabe; my Dad is from Cross Lake Cree Nation in
Manitoba. We call ourselves 'Inninew' so you could say I'm half Cree and half Ojibway,
not to be mistaken with Oji-Cree which is entirely different."
"While I was painting the wall we had really good conversations and lots of friendly
comments particularly from Indigenous people but also people of settlers' descent about
the syllabics. Indigenous people were happy to see representation of something they're
familiar with but also conversing with them. A few of them were from communities not
far from where my Mother was from; and I grew up there. Some of them even knew my
family. Good conversations; I think they're just happy to see something more that lets
them know they are seen, that they are visible and secure and are represented through this
Mural. A few people even recognized the syllabics and knew what they were."
Mike Valcourt: "It is instantly recognizable to some people as syllabics. They might not
instantly know which language it is or what it means, but they've seen it before."
Peatr Thomas: "Each one of the syllabics corresponds to its syllable: na-na-ka-chii-shi-
nam. You can count 6 syllables here but there is an extra syllabic symbol at the end. The
second last symbol is the sound for 'na'; and the backwards c-looking shape is the closer,
the 'm'. The 'm', the closer, is what depicts the dialect because there are different
"The two graphic elements balance asymmetrically; their colours and sizes
complementing each other. Rather than having the star blanket in the center it was at the
right side. We HAD to include this as it is part of their branding. I didn't colourize the
star blanket because I didn't want it to take away from the syllabics. The main focus of
attention is on the syllabics. The angle or slant of the syllabics is in one direction; the
star blanket is slanted in the exact opposite direction. They balance
"Letting the syllabics stand on their own lends itself as a decolonising process, seeking
the repatriation of the meaning of Indigenous words. By having the syllabics standing on
their own, I mean that they are standing without translation. We didn't write in English
or cater to western culture. It's about having the language stand for itself, as well as
creating a dialogue about it."
"The style of the syllabics in 3D and with a white outline- this is synonymous to a
Graffiti Art style. This is familiar to me having a background in it; and is a way of
combining something new with something ancient!"
The artists of this project encourage folks to learn more about the importance of
protecting Indigenous lanuages. Here are a couple of resources they provided: