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Indigenous culture comes to the walls of Waverley Drive Public School

Waverley Drive Public School students paint mural with help of Odawa Anishinaabe artist

A colourful mural now stands inside Waverley Drive Public School all thanks to students and artist Michael “Cy” Cywink.

Cywink is an Odawa Anishinaabe artist, author, curator and Muralist. He said he has helped students with over 50 murals since 1980. 

For this mural, students were given the theme, water is life, healing through colour. 

“As human beings we rest in the womb of our mother which is water and that when we come out it’s with the flow of water,” said Cywink.

In the mural there are fish which live in the water, moose on the land need water to live, and eagles in the sky which also need water.

Cywink said he shared with the students what the animals represent regarding clans and totems. Respect for all animals was something he wanted the students to take from the making of the mural.

“A satisfaction of accomplishment of recognizing First Nations design,” Cywink said he wants people to take away from viewing the mural.

Images of animals, many from Cywink’s portfolio, were projected onto the wall were then traced out and later filled in with paint.

Cywink had some of the art students trace the mural first and later on students from Grade 7 and 8, one from Grade 6 chose the colours they wanted to paint the mural with. 

He said he wanted the students to put their good energy into the mural so when people walked by they could feel it.

“They’re getting authentic learning and sharing,” said Cywink.

The colours represent what the students feel and are not the typical colours you would see on animals in Canada.

“They aren’t the colours they are supposed to be because people still look at them and they know an otter is an otter, a marten is a marten, a fish is a fish,” said Cywink.

Waverley Grade 8 students Karis Ruppenthal and Eve Arnold worked on the mural.

“Being able to choose what colours you feel would fit the best,” Ruppenthal said was her favourite part of the mural painting process.

“I’m really grateful for this opportunity and learning experience and it was amazing how they could come in and guide us through it,” she said.

“I did this really detailed fish on it that I really liked with pastel colours,” said Arnold.

Cywink said he was really impressed with the students at Waverley and the mural they made. 

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Santana Bellantoni

About the Author: Santana Bellantoni

Santana Bellantoni was born and raised in Canada’s capital, Ottawa. As a general assignment reporter for Guelph Today she is looking to discover the communities, citizens and quirks that make Guelph a vibrant city.
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