Students create mural to give cancer patients and families hope, strength
- EFN Staff | May 17, 2017
A 16-year-old from Ochapowace First Nation was one of many students who helped create a three-piece art mural that was donated to the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina for cancer patients and visitors. Creating the art pieces has helped Triston Isaac to honour a relative who beat cancer and also paid tribute to those who lost the battle to the deadly disease.
“I know there’s people that [aren’t] lucky like me that has someone who beat cancer,” he said. “I thought about those people I kept in mind while I was painting. It’s really a challenge.”
Grade 11 and 12 students from Ochapowace First Nation created the artwork to bring hope, courage, and strength for cancer patients. The pieces titled Hope, Courage and Strength consist of a herd of buffalo to symbolize strength. Artist and elder Michael Lonechild from the White Bear First Nation mentored the students to create their art pieces.
“We’re pleased to display the creative talents of Saskatchewan’s First Nation youth,” said Dr. John Tonita, Interim President and Chief Executive Officer of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency in a media release. “Their work will serve as a reminder that healthcare is about more than medical treatments; it needs to be inclusive of holistic care and that includes working with ndigenous people to understand their needs and traditions.”
The artwork stemmed from a project through the First Nations and Métis Cancer Surveillance Program, which the Ochapowace community introduced to their membership. Funded through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) teamed up together in 2014 and introduced this three-year program which aims to address cancer awareness and prevention in Saskatchewan’s First Nation communities focusing on their youth.
“Over the course of this program our students and others in the community learned how they can take control of their health by living a balanced lifestyle and making healthy choices,” said Ochapowace First Nation Chief Margaret Bear in a media release. “These are our future leaders and it’s encouraging to see how they came together to illustrate their message of hope for cancer patients who are undergoing treatment.”
Not only has this art project brought the youth together to discuss cancer awareness amongst First Nations and Métis, people but it has also fueled the passion for art in the students. Isaac, who is in Grade 12, will be applying to the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Regina to fulfill his newfound desire for painting.
“For me, painting is a way to really express yourself on what you’re feeling by drawing anything and working from there,” he said.
Ochapowace First Nation was one of five participating communities to contribute in this project.