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Painting of large Indigenous outdoor mural brings ‘Wisdom of the Universe’ to St. Andrews

A mock-up of the painting on the church wall

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Picton will soon be home to the largest Indigenous mural on a church in Canada.

The congregation has been given permission by award-winning Metis artist Christi Belcourt, to reproduce her Art Galley of Ontario-commissioned pice ‘Wisdom of the Universe’ on the north exterior wall of the church.

The work will be reproduced by Toronto muralist Jason Rouleau starting Tuesday, Oct. 9. The 37-foot by 36-foot mural is expected to take the MuralForm team six days to complete.

The purpose of the project is to pay tribute to the ancient wisdom within the Canadian Indigenous community—a wisdom that invites people to treat the earth and all of its creatures as sacred.

Ms. Belcourt’s artist statement concludes with:
“Perhaps it’s time to place the rights of Mother Earth ahead of the rights to Mother Earth.”

“We are deeply grateful to Ms. Belcourt for articulating this timely vision. Her work as an activist and an artist has challenged us as Canadians to rethink our relationship with the earth and with one another,” said Rev. Lynne Donovan, minister at St. Andrew’s. “We hope this mural will serve as a concrete symbol that we as a community both recognize and honour the Indigenous wisdom represented in Wisdom of the Universe. It also serves as an invitation to the wider community to appreciate the interconnectedness of all living things.”

In lieu of payment for the use of the image, Ms. Belcourt requested St. Andrew’s to make a contribution to the Onaman Collective, formed in 2014 by Ms. Belcourt and other Indigenous artists for the express purpose of connecting Indigenous youth to traditional knowledge, language and Elders.

St. Andrew’s has raised $2000 to support this work.

While the Wisdom of the Universe mural is unfolding on the exterior wall, the interior walls of St. Andrew’s will be populated with an exhibit featuring four Mohawk artists, Janice Brant, Rebecca Maracle, Doug Brant and Stephen Loney.

“We are taking small steps,” says Rev. Donovan, “towards listening to the voice and vision of our Mohawk neighbours. We have much to learn and much to unlearn.”

“This project engages two of Canada’s most vital conversations: our relationship to our Indigenous peoples and our relationship to the planet,” she added.

Support of the project is welcome in person, by clicking the ‘Donate’ button on the website,  or by writing a cheque to St. Andrew’s (mural) and mailing it to:
31 King St. Picton ON K0K 2T0

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  1. AK says:

    Correction to my comment Sunday, October 14th, 2018 at 7:46 am, the Minister should read Minister Lisa Thompson.

  2. AK says:

    Emily, until the First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples confirm we have fulfilled the requirements put forth as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are far from ending conversations. A friendly reminder that Minister MacLead cancelled TRC curriculum planning, and to date, there hasn’t been further communication from her on when it will resume.

  3. Dennis Fox says:

    Paul – very well stated!

  4. Paul Cole says:

    I’m sure that’s what it says in your history books Emily but as we’ve learned those history books were very one sided and generally did not tell the whole story. As far as moving on I believe true history will describe these times as the beginning of a discussion with the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the Truth part of Truth and Reconciliation has just begun….

  5. Emily says:

    We need to move on from the indigenous discussions. Our friends across the bridge arrived here the same time as us UEL’S. Apologies have been made, one country and equal rights now.

  6. Paul Cole says:

    I found this odd initially to, however the Presbyterian Church did issue an apology in 1994 for the role it played in the attempted assimilation of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada. I would hope this is a beginning in the reconciliation process for the Church which is much much more then the catholic church has done…

  7. Scott Farkus says:

    Steve, I concur with your sentiments.
    I also find it odd that one would choose a Métis artist when the Métis aren’t really from this region. Aren’t there great options from the Iroqouis Confederacy? Belacourt is a great artist but perhaps more could be done to reach out to local Indigenous communities.

  8. Steve Staniek says:

    This act of “beautification” looks well-intentioned, but what does it really say about this community, and how it’s preparing to deal with the jaw-dropping emerging issue of domestic terrorism committed by white Christian Canada against indigenous Canada?
    Isn’t beautifying a Christian church with indigenous artwork putting the cart before the horse, when the issue of religious or spiritual persecution of indigenous people, especially helpless children taken and held hostage, and: physically, spiritually, emotionally, and sexually abused in Christian institutions hidden away for over 100 years, has not been publicly discussed or resolved by this community, a starting node for Upper Canada.
    Covering up the great sins of the Christian Churches in Canada with artwork denies 100 years of horrors experienced by indigenous children and their families during the Canadian holocaust. After long consultations with Britain, Macdonald created toxic laws like the Indian Act that launched, a process of legalized hatred, designed to destory indigenous spirituality, and by extension indigenous sovereignty. White Christian supremacy continues to be an issue, especially in Ontario, as we have witnessed since the last election.
    The legal work is over. Indigenous Canada rose up, challenged, and convicted the federal government in thousands of court cases. Ethical eyes around the world now see Canada as a hidden source of human rights abuses, specifically, indigenous child abuse, at the national level. This legal process incriminated most of the white Christian establishment to this day since child abuse has always been seen as criminal activity by more evolved civilizations.
    There is ample evidence that a handful of colonial extremists still support Macdonald’s legacy of white Christian supremacy, and that support is manifest in the statue of John. A. on Picton’s Main Street, which has become a hub for political extremism of all colours.

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