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Firekeeper mural by Indigenous Artist Mike Cywink the first created through the Songlines Project

Updated: Jul 3


The first Songlines Project artwork, Firekeeper by Mike Cywink, was installed at East Lions Community Centre (1731 Churchill Ave, London On) on the exterior windows near the main entrance, and unveiled on June 27, 2024.




ABOUT THE SONGLINES PROJECT

In January 2023 the City of London participated with the Huron University Management and Organizational Studies Class on a City Studio Project to study what London could learn from other UNESCO designated cities about creative collaborations that could benefit London.  The “Songlines” proposed initiative developed by a group of students from this class, based upon a previous UNESCO program developed in Auckland New Zealand, won the City Studio community of choice award at the end of term Hubbub Event held at the Pillar Nonprofit Network in April 2023. 


The City of London Culture Services and the London Arts Council, in partnership with the London Music Office and the Rotary Club of London, have come together to create the “Songlines Project.” This project will showcase the artwork of London’s local visual artists that is accompanied by a “Songlines” QR Code that links to the London Music Office’s Spotify channel and the diverse music of talented local musicians at various stages of their music careers. In alignment with City of London 2023 – 2027 Strategic Plan, the “Songlines” project has a strategic focus on Economic Growth, Culture, and Prosperity. It hopes to support the outcomes of London as a destination of choice and encourage the growth of local artistic and musical talent. “Songlines” will contribute to London’s UNESCO City of Music designation.


Songlines will beautify London’s streetscapes, communities, and neighbourhoods and strengthen London’s brand as an artistic and creative hub. Emerging and mid-career musicians and visual artists will gain more exposure to establish their brand that will further their careers to be export ready for more regional and international opportunities. This will in turn contribute more to the local cultural economy.

ABOUT THE PUBLIC ART AND MONUMENT PROGRAM

 

The City of London’s Public Art and Monument Program facilitates the creation of public art in London, which bolsters civic pride, provides focal points for community celebration, creates meaningful employment for artists, and attracts tourism and investment.


This mural was created by the artist through the City’s Public Art and Monument Program, managed by the City’s Culture Services team and administered by the London Arts Council and Indigenous London Arts, with support by the Rotary Club of London, and presented in partnership with the London Music Office.

It is one of the first artworks to make up the City of London’s Permanent Indigenous Artwork Collection.


ABOUT THE MURAL: FIREKEEPER

“This design is inspired by the story of the eagle who looks over the sacred fire and carries all the responsibilities that go along with being the firekeeper.

 

He shares our teachings with the people, and the birds serve as messengers carrying the teachings out to the world. Whenever we have fire, we must have water - balance is an important part of creation and our teachings. Turtle Island, the muskrat in our creation story, and one of our leadership clans, the fish, are all featured in this design. All of creation is represented - the ones who fly, the four-legged, the insects, and the ones who swim.

 

The image with the moon is a reminder of our responsibility to one another as people. In a community, we need to lift each other up and be there for each other. We all must help at certain points in our life, so we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it when we need it."


Mike Cywink, 2024



ABOUT THE ARTIST Michael Cywink grew up in Northern Ontario, in the community of Whitefish River, First Nation. He has been in the London area for more than a decade now, working with Indigenous youth throughout the city.

 

He is a muralist, artist, and graphic designer with multiple projects and murals throughout the London area. Michael continues to create art and support Indigenous youth, with many projects and murals on the horizon.

“As an artist, I consider myself a storyteller. I, of course do not speak for every Indigenous person and my teachings are ones that have been passed along on my path so far. And as we embark on this journey, I am telling a story that is not my own.

 

I listen, I learn, and I try to tell other people’s stories through my art. The original ways of passing down teachings and stories is through storytelling; it is an important piece of our traditional ways of being.”

 

 – Mike Cywink 



June 27, 2024 Mural Unveiling Event photos:




FIREKEEPER MURAL⁠—

PANEL 1






PANEL 2





PANEL 3





PANEL 4





PANEL 5






PANEL 6






PANEL 7



















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