Image: Residential School Survivors work on "We Are Still Here" mural panel together
The City of London, N’Amerind Friendship Centre and the London Arts Council have been working together to develop “We Are Still Here” – a two-story, seven-panel Indigenous mural at N’Amerind Friendship Centre to honour the legacy of Residential School Survivors and the children who were lost through Canada’s Residential School System.
Ojibwe educator and visual artist Mike Cywink has been working with Indigenous youth artists and Residential School Survivors to create the mural to be placed on the exterior wall of N’Amerind Friendship Centre.
This mural will increase public awareness and knowledge of the history of Canada’s Residential School System; honour Residential School Survivors and the children who were lost through the system; and celebrate Indigenous arts, culture, knowledge, and histories.
Residential School Survivors have contributed to the creation of the mural through consultation sessions, providing them with a meaningful voice and commemorating their resilience and their lives throughout the development of the project. The purpose of these consultation sessions was to better understand what the Residential School Survivors and the local First Nation and Indigenous communities would like the mural to focus on, to honour their memory and bring understanding and healing.
This project is funded through the City of London’s Public Art and Monument Program.
Image: Artist Mike Cywink and youth artist, Sir Frederick Nicholas, in front of a mural panel that they worked on with two other youth artists
The mural will be formally unveiled at N’Amerind Friendship Centre on September 30, 2022, during National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. On this date, N’Amerind Friendship Centre will hold a ceremony to honour the lives of Residential School Survivors and children who were lost through the Residential School System.
About the artist
Mike Cywink is an Ojibwe educator and visual artist from Whitefish River First Nation near Manitoulin Island. Cywink has a very longstanding and deeply significant relationship with N’Amerind Friendship Centre, including its constituents, staff and leaders. He is a valued member of the community and a mentor to many Indigenous youth.
Image: Lead artist Mike Cywink in front of "We Are Still Here" mural panel
About N’Amerind Friendship Centre
N’Amerind Friendship Centre plays a significant role in the urban Indigenous community in London. In addition to hosting a variety of culturally appropriate programming for urban Indigenous residents of London, it serves as a centre for education, culture and overall community development.
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. Through this program, the City of London’s Culture Services division and the London Arts Council have been supporting the creation of the “We Are Still Here” mural.
Following the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action report, London City Council asked City staff to “report back to the Strategic Priorities and Policy Committee on developing a prominent memorial in London, acknowledging the history of Canada’s Residential School System and its former students”.
Following this resolution, the City of London’s Culture Services division and the London Arts Council partnered for the administration of this directive and sought guidance from Indigenous community Survivors, Elders, Traditional Knowledge Keepers and leadership from various organizations and the local First Nations communities. From these sessions, a project Working Group was created that consists of representation from the City of London, London Arts Council, Indigenous Community consultants and researchers, Indigenous Elders and Traditional Knowledge Keepers to develop the seven-panel mural. For more information, please contact Jo Ann Johnston, manager of media relations at the City of London at firstname.lastname@example.org or 226-973-4291.