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Mural project taps into Blackfoot wisdom

April 24, 2018 Cory Hare, ATA News Staff

Students and staff at Calgary’s Catherine Nichols Gunn School learned a lesson in facing life’s challenges through a mural project undertaken with Indigenous artist Ryan Willert.

The project saw each of the school’s 400 students and staff paint a profile of a buffalo charging into a storm. Willert, who is from the Siksika Nation east of Calgary, then grouped these images with his own painting of a frontal view of a buffalo head.

Willert explained to CBC that buffalo always run toward a storm rather than away, a fact that, in traditional Blackfoot teachings, has come to symbolize the importance of facing adversity head-on.

“The buffalo is very good for the children to learn about, and also, in this territory, where the Blackfoot was, this was our spirit animal. And this is what helped us in our life,” Willert said.

Principal Steve Wigglesworth said the project has been beneficial for students and staff.

“Ryan was an amazing bridge to helping the Indigenous and non-Indigenous understand and learn about each other,” he said. ❚ 

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