U of S tunnel mural heeds warning to protect water
- Andrea Ledding | October 15, 2018
“We wanted to give something relevant today...water protection,” said Murdoch. “Historically the Indian Act in our communities has forced our people off the land...this is where our people are, so this message is to get people back into the territories, to start protecting the lands and waters. Because right now we’re facing a massive ecological collapse. And that’s our message.”
Murdoch noted that despite colonial structures, everything is Turtle Island and that Indigenous peoples aren’t just a part of history, but of the present and the future. The mural is meant to inspire passersby.
“I want people to feel like they can make a difference, that they can get out there and help Mother Earth,” added Murdoch. “Let’s protect the lands and waters like we’re supposed to.”
The mural is in a busy passageway which connects the arts tunnel to the Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre and the Health Sciences tunnels. It features blue and green panels with black figures, and animals, birds, and fish. Belcourt and Murdoch have done roughly a dozen murals across North America so far, with the funds going towards a language camp in Ontario.
“It was a two-day project, and our goal is to get a selfie station where people can stand and take a picture of themselves as a water protector, to get people engaged with the issues of protecting the waters,” said Belcourt. “Because in this era of climate change we need to protect the waters. We need everyone to do stand up and do that...the UN has just come out saying we have about twelve years left before we get into irreversible climate change.”
She wants to ensure our children, grandchildren, and all species have a planet that is inhabitable, not one destroyed by pipelines, tar sands, and climate change.
“We need to get into action, and we need all of us to do that. Indigenous people, we have a spiritual connection to these lands, to this Earth, and we have a lot of knowledge and wisdom to share on how to live in balance with Mother Earth,” said Belcourt.
Gabrielle Lee, an active third-year student in Indigenous Studies and Chemistry, got involved through her passion for food sovereignty and related issues.
“Working with Isaac Murdoch and Christi Belcourt is literally a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to collaborate with these amazing artists, everything that they do is with really intense purpose, that is the ideal of how to impact and think about community,” said Lee, adding they have a globally relevant message.
Jacqueline Ottmann, Vice Provost, Indigenous Engagement said she was really excited to have Murdoch and Belcourt gift the mural to the community, and to put their creative energy into a space that really wasn’t sharing a story until now.
“And so, within this particular tunnel we have a story, we have a very strong and powerful message of relationship and of stewardship. and the responsibility that we have not only to each other, but to Creation,” said Ottmann.