583 Ellice Avenue
Establishing shot. "The Meeting of the Sun."
Location: N side bet.Furby & Sherbrook; South (front) and East Face
Occupant: Justice Resource Centre; John Howard Society
District: West End
Artist(s): Marla Braga, Hank (Wesley) Williams, Daniel Bunn
Sponsors: HRSDC Summer Career Placement, West End BIZ
Painters: J. L. Larocque, Sam, Justus Kelly, Janric Gonzales, Jason Gonzales, Molly Whiteside, Tremaine Kelly, Angelica Barcelo, Karmela Martin, Katrina Martin, Yuki Kawase, Riel Dubois, Max, Melissa Williams, Selena Williams, Pat, Karina Cardona, Milu Simoes, Luisa Tavares, Nisa Wijewardena, Siri Kousonsavath, Christoff Engbrecht, Kurt Steppan.
Marla Braga: "This is an aboriginal themed mural, and I'm not aboriginal. When my
boss, Trudy Turner and I approached the John Howard Society about having a Mural on
their building, they were excited about it. They don't have the money to do this; so to get
a free Mural they were very excited about it! When we asked them what they wanted on
the building, they started talking in terms of an aboriginal scene, because a lot of people
who use the John Howard Society facilities and the other services in the building are
"The John Howard Society really wanted a few things: they wanted first that this be
about hope; that it be about peace; and (although they would've been willing to go
along with anything) they really wanted an aboriginal themed Mural. One day, Francis
(an aboriginal man who is their cultural teacher) was in our office. We asked him if he
thought that aboriginals would be offended if a non-aboriginal did aboriginal artwork,
and he said 'no; as long as the story is right and accurately represented.' So I took him
for coffee one day to talk about it. He had talked to me already a bit about different
colours while we were in the office. While at coffee, the first thing that happened was
that I offered him tobacco, cigarettes for his teachings. That's the way you do it; you ask
for teachings. From there, Francis told me a bit about it. He just went off, and he didn't
stick to one topic, and I learned a great deal! For instance, he told me that (according to
his Cree-Ojibway heritage) there were four types of animals; the ones that walk, the ones
that crawl, the ones that fly and the ones that swim."
"I went back to the office and started to draw some designs and think about things.
Trudy and I agreed that maybe we needed a story, a legend to base this artwork on. So I
went back to see Francis, and he told me several stories; and then he told me the story of
the Meeting of the Sun, which became the theme for this Mural; and is a metaphor for
changing one's life, not being lazy, getting up, the possibility of change which is hopeful
"If I were to walk you through the Mural, I would say that it starts at the far right (photo
1). Two people are lying down and sleeping (photo 2) and dreaming. What's coming
down from their dream is the eagle (photo 4), which is very symbolic of power, and a
very good thing. The eagle is coming down and saying to them (almost whispering in
their ears) 'Wake up. C'mon! It's time for change.' The second wall has an eagle on the
corner; the eagle is now present in reality and he's looking down upon the scene. Next to
it is an exchange between an elder and a youth (photo 2). That's sweet grass. It's the
exchange of a lesson from elder to youth. There are four stages of life: child, youth, adult
and elder and they are all represented in this Mural."
"There's a woman near the tepee. The tepee is the woman's domain; she's the one that
takes care of it, and she's the one that rules that area. She has a child now. So this couple
that started out as two now have a child. They're getting a bit older."
"In designing this wall, the main focus was on the actions. Any other details were put in
there for stylistic purposes. The tepee wasn't originally planned as part of the wall; but
Hank (Williams) and Daniel (Bunn) wanted to add it, so it was!"
"We come around the corner to the front wall and we see that everything is attached by
this red line (photo 3). That red line was inspired by Norval Morisseau, an aboriginal
artist from the West Coast. This was his style. This front wall is a different scene. The
people have matured; they're definitely adults now. The woman and the man are walking
and their hands are up and they're looking at the sun and pointing to it. On the other part
of the wall (because what separates the adults from the youth now is the doorway) the
child has grown to a youth. The youth is ahead of them; he's excited; and is exclaiming '
Look at the sun! Look at the sun!' So they're meeting the sun and going to the sun.
Also, all four animal types are represented: the Canada geese have worms in their mouths,
and the owl has a fish. So we have what walks, crawls, flies and swims. Also, in the
tepee scene the tepee is on bare ground. In this scene, there is some grass growing; it's
getting very hopeful. So it is about the possibility of change and how these people
change their life. The four colours of the medicine wheel at the top right represent the
four races of man."
"This was part of the Mural Mentorship Program, and the West End BIZ paid the entire
costs for this Mural. "A lot of people have noticed this wall, and I've had comments like
'it's so wonderful coming to work every day and not staring at a white wall'. Hank got
another commission on Balmoral as a result of this project. I have a lot of nice memories
from this summer and so do the children, I think."