This mural was created from a local community initiative, in the context of Jamii's celebration of Indigenous artists, and the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association’s 40th Anniversary. Unveiled on June 21, 2023.
Artistic Statement by Darwin Peters, artist from Pikangikum First Nation:
The turtles represent life from the new to the old, and the journey from the beginning to the end. The turtles also represent the land we live on, where everything grows, flourishes and thrives, like the fish.
Not only do the fish provide the food we eat, but they also represent friendship: they come along together, they make mischief together, and they become like family when they are forming a pack.
The roots at the bottom of the tree are going in different directions, then they grow stronger, and at the end, the roots become floral. This symbolizes my life: all the struggles I have been through, how I grew stronger from them, and how I found a light through the arts and became the artist I was meant to be. I hope that people can be whoever they want to be and be where they want to be.
The birds on the tree branches are watching the sun and then the moon. Every time I go to sleep, I see the moon. Every time I wake up, I see the sun and I am thankful to see yet another day. I wish that everyone can feel gratitude for each new day.
Everywhere I look in this community (The Esplanade), I see different faces, races, cultures, languages and religions, and that makes me happy. It shows me how life can be when we are around each other. This is how I represented this community with the birds living in the tree.
In the canoe, you can see the thunderbird beings, with their pet fox. The thunderbird in the middle points in the direction where to go next. As a family, they paddle on their journey through life and bring light into their community. I hope I contributed to this community by bringing colours here.
When thunderbirds are finished with their work, they bring in other people to see what they’ve made. This is a metaphor for my life as well.
The stars represent our ancestors shining bright light on us and they give us directions for the North, South, East and West, so that we can follow each star we see in the sky.
The feathers are there for the loved ones we lost too soon and we carry in our hearts.
The butterflies can fly wherever they want to be; they are free. Someone from the community also suggested they represent transformation through healing.
The three leaves have a meaning of new beginning, new life, and a new chapter starting.
June 21, 2023
Lead Artist: Darwin Peters
Curator: Isorine Marc
Supporting Artists: Andrew Patterson, Kseniya Tsoy
Additional Painting Support: Karen Lam, Zenzele Harris
Artistic Inspiration and Contribution: Residents of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood, students of the Market Lane Public School
Co-Producers: Jamii, the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association
Special thanks: Suzanne Kavanagh, the Jamii Team, the Jamii Board of Directors and the SLNA Board of Directors
Sponsors: Emblem Developments, the St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA
Jamii Public Funders: Canada Council for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council, RBC Foundation, Rama Gaming House
Approved by the City of Toronto