The north side of Humboldt Town Hall is now decorated with a delightful, bright and striking testimony to the power of art to aid healing. Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, saw the inauguration of the much-awaited mural by indigenous artist Kevin PeeAce with a little help from his friends … many friends.
The artist embarked on a visual journey together with the support of Humboldt school children. In a project supported by public schools St. Augustine, St. Dominic and Humboldt and led by Director of Cultural Programs Jennifer Fitzpatrick, PeeAce welcomed student suggestions on ways to communicate truth and reconciliation in a graphic idea that everyone can to share.
PeeAce is a residential school survivor hailing from Kelvington, Yellow Quill First Nation and Peter Chapman First Nation. When he talks about his experience of him in the residential school system, it is a remarkably emotional experience. PeeAce continues to work to master his craft as a means of healing and as a means of communicating with others, especially the children he collaborates with. At the mural’s unveiling ceremony, Kevin talked about collaborating with Humboldt’s youth.
“We initially looked at Zoom and talked about Reconciliation,” he explained. “We talked about what it means to them. I asked them to go one step further and put it on paper, just so I could see what it meant. The response has been overwhelming and you can imagine that with the different schools, the ideas that have emerged from there have been phenomenal. “
PeeAce says the mural’s “engine” was contained in all the ideas put forward by the children. The trick was to bring those ideas together into a cohesive vision that harmonized the message. This is the artist’s job, PeeAce reflects, to put himself “out of his mind” to create an experience that others can enjoy.
Many of the school children gathered at the town hall to enjoy performances by the Dancing Horse Troupe and discuss with Bryan McNabb of the Horizon School Division, head Byron Bitternose and Humboldt Mayor Michael Behiel. Seeing his co-workers get together for a photo with PeeAce was a moving experience, PeeAce said.
“It was very emotional, for sure. I look back on my past, and this kind of day, we would never see this kind of days like that, and seeing it now makes me feel … confident. This is the kind of day that brought today and the mural is just an extension of the relationship. “
Mayor Behiel reiterated his promise made earlier in the day to attend a community-wide celebration on Indigenous Peoples Day next year. Dancing Horse Troupe will make a return visit to Humboldt for the multicultural celebration on July 1st at Water Ridge Park.