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A cultural renaissance is blooming in Canada, led by Black and Indigenous artists

Originally Posted on Macleans

December 15, 2020 – On Gaukel Street in Kitchener, Ont., perpendicular to city hall, a black bear greets pedestrians with watery and speculative eyes. Makade Makwa. Near her, a frog crouches, its back glimmering and pale in the sunlight. Omakakii. Beside him, a wolf lifts a slender snout to serenade a star-filled sky. Maengun. These animals are brought to life in modern, muted renderings on the painted pavement by illustrator and muralist Luke Swinson, a Kitchener resident and member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

An LRT ride away from the bear and her friends, fish illustrated in vibrant cyan swim freely through flora, circling a golden sun. According to Oneida artist Alanah Jewell, the mural represents “community, ceremony and belonging.” In addition to being the artist behind Morning Star Designs, Jewell is also the parks and engagement associate for the City of Kitchener. Her goal is to connect with other Indigenous people, organizations and leaders to understand how Indigenous people would like to access park space and land. Her art can be seen reclaiming public spaces across southern Ontario.

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