591 Sherbrook Street
Location: SE corner Sherbrook & Sargent, All Faces
Occupant: Project Neecheewam
District: West End
Artist(s): Erica Holloway
Sponsors: Neighbourhoods Alive! (Manitoba), West End BIZ
Painters: Alyssa, Niyyaz Ashegh, Natalie Baird, Rhoda Fiddler-Johnson, Alex Genaille, Ashlee Griffith, Gennia Griffith, Miranda Hellesoe, Jenny, Lisa, Brendan Moore, Brianna Moose, Paige Moose, Nicole Petruka, Renee, Robert Ross, Tracia, Molly Whiteside.
For the fourth straight year, West End BIZ's Mural Mentorship Program has run in the
summer months and is responsible for yet another new Mural in the West End. The
summer program has employed a different Mural Mentor each year. In 2005, the mentor
is Erica Holloway, a fine arts student at the University of Manitoba. She recruited and
worked with almost 20 kids from the neighbourhood; including some from Project
Neecheewam, an aboriginal youth crisis center. It is the first Winnipeg Mural that wraps
the building on the three available sides PLUS has artwork facing outwards in all four
From all reports it was a tremendous experience for the junior artists, who painted
backgrounds, filled in colours on the wall and helped with some of the simpler figures
like the white clouds and flowers. The cartoon-like Mural design includes a medicine
wheel, regional animals as well as several vignettes of people doing tasks together or
helping one another.
Erica Holloway: "With the design, I had to first pick the theme. Kids in the community
and similar such things had already been done; so I thought
'what other theme could kids get something out of' and I thought that maybe 'helping' would be
a good theme. Kids need help,
and everyone can give and get help when it's needed. So I began thinking of how we could show
different helping scenes; and later on, where each of those scenes
would fit on the wall. Generally from left to right there is a progression of scenes moving from
indoors to outdoors; from morning to later in the day, to night."
"Our Mural design this year is a theme of helping others. Because this
building is occupied by Project Neecheewam we put in a lot of aboriginal content and
customs like the Seven Sacred Teachings. The inclusion of the Seven Sacred Teachings
came about as a result of being suggested by one of the kids. Each of the teachings corresponds to the
animal with it. For instance, Truth is the Turtle. Six of the seven animals have been
incorporated into the design. We left out the Kitch-Sabe as we were unsure of its form.
We had conflicting versions."
"The wall was an awkward one for planning a design on, due to its odd makeup. It was tricky.
It took me a long time to think on how to use all of this space. I also wanted to give the kids some freedom to
express their creativity and to give their opinions. The whole front panel in front of the stairs was entirely the
children's ideas and artwork. Many of the kids did self portraits. And a lot of things got added to the design as we
went along- like the back wall (Photo 5)
with the input and suggestions from Project Neecheewam. The Mural evolved over the summer and ended up being something
far more beautiful than it started off as. We tried our best to create a Mural that is cheerful and
colourful, and that gives a happy vibe."
"It was an amazing experience. I plan on going into Education; and I did this for the experience.
I did have some experience with kids but I learned a lot this summer from these kids in
the West End. And they learned too. They learned a lot about art and I learned a lot
about how to teach them about art. I was amazed at how much they learned and how enthusiastic they were- to go
there every day and spend their summer vacations working on the Mural!
The kids were all awesome; and I got very close to them. Every one who worked on the wall left a part of themselves
"It kept me busy for the whole summer. I was working on the design by the end of May; we started painting at the
beginning of July and went until about the 20th of August. On the few
rainy days we had, we would go inside and work on our drawings."
The Mural was unveiled at a ceremony on October 25, 2005 (see photo 7). During the cermony, Neecheewam Centre
Exectutive Director Michael Ateah had praise for the Mural project: "It really puts heart, brightness and pride into
the neighbourhood. I've had people come up to me and say that they feel safer in the area because of the Mural."
Included in Holloway's research was information about the Seven Sacred Teachings.
This information is reproduced immediately below,
and appears here courtesy of the West End BIZ Murals Tours.
To feel true love is to know the Creator. Therefore, it is expected that
one's first love is to be the Great Spirit. He is considered Father of all
children, and the giver of human life. Love given to the Great Spirit is
expressed through love of oneself, and it is understood that if one cannot
love oneself, it is impossible to love anyone else.
The Eagle was chosen by the Great Spirit to represent this law, as the Eagle
can reach higher than all creatures in bringing pure vision to the seeker.
Through the purveyor of the greatest most powerful medicine, love can also
be one of the most elusive of the teachings, as it depends upon a world that
acknowledges the importance of spirituality.
The Buffalo, through giving its life and sharing every part of it's being,
showed the deep respect it had for the people. No animal was more important
to the existence of Indigenous families than this animal. And it's gift
provided shelter, clothing, utensils for daily living. Native people
believed themselves to be true caretakers of the great herds, and developed
a sustainable relation-ship with the Buffalo resulting in a relationship
that was a true expression of respect.
The Bear provides many lessons in the way it lives, but courage is the most
important teaching it offers. Though gentle by nature, the ferociousness of
a mother Bear when one of her cubs is approached is the true definition of
courage. To have the mental and moral strength to overcome fears that
prevent us from living our true spirit as Human Beings is a great challenge
that must be met with the same vigour and intensity as the mother Bear
protecting her cub. Living of the heart and Living of the spirit is
difficult, but the Bear's example shows us how to face any danger to achieve
Long ago, there was a giant called Kitch-Sabe. Kitch-Sabe walked among to
remind them to be honest to the laws of the Creator and honest to each
other. The highest honor that could be bestowed upon an individual was the
saying 'There walks an honest man. He can be trusted.' To be truly honest
was to keep the promises one made to the Creator, to others and to oneself.
The Elders would say, 'Never try to be someone else; live true to your
spirit, be honest to yourself and accept who you are the way the Creator
The building of a community is entirely dependant on gifts given to each
member by the Creator and how these gifts are used. The Beaver's example of
using his sharp teeth for cutting trees and branches to build his dams and
lodges expresses this teaching. If he did not use his teeth, they would
continue to grow until they became useless, ultimately making it impossible
for him to sustain himself. The same can be said for human beings. One's
spirit will grow weak if it is not fulfilling its use. When used properly
however, these gifts contribute to the development of a peaceful and healthy
Recognizing and acknowledging that there is a higher power than man and it
is known as the Creator is to be deemed truly humble. To express deference
or submission to the Creator through the acceptance that all beings are
equal is to capture the spirit of humility. The expression of this humility
is manifested through the consideration of others before ourselves. In this
way, the Wolf became the teacher of this lesson. He bows his head in the
presence of others out of deference, and once hunted, will not take of the
food until it can be shared with the pack. His lack of arrogance and respect
for his community is a hard lesson, but integral in the Aboriginal way.
To know truth is to know and understand all of the Teachings as given by the
Creator- and to remain faithful to them. It is said that in the beginning,
when the Creator made man and gave him the Seven Sacred Teachings, the
Grandmother Turtle was present to ensure that they would never be forgotten.
On the back of a Turtle are 13 moons, each representing the truth of one
cycle of the Earth's rotations around the Sun. The shell of the Turtle
represents the body real events as created by the Higher Power, and serves
as a reminder of the will of the Creator.