New downtown Kistahpinanihk mural celebrates collaboration

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Artist Bruno Hernani discussed the work behind the project when a new downtown mural was revealed on Wednesday.

Kistahpinanihk means “the great meeting place” in Cree, and a new mural in downtown Prince Albert celebrates that legacy.

Artists and dignitaries unveiled the new piece of public art on Wednesday in the green space at the corner of Central Avenue and 11th Street. The mural is the result of a collaboration between the City of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC), Communities Building Youth Futures (CBYF) and a weeklong workshop guided by Artist Bruno Hernani.

“I really enjoy working with people and the different ways to see and express a view, specifically related to diversity, (and) equality,” Hernani said. “I really like the process of having different views of these things.”

Hernani is based in Regina, but originally hails from Peru. He came to Prince Albert specifically to work on the piece.

The entire process took about two months, and it would have taken even longer without youth from CBYF contributing to the piece.

“Each youth made probably one, sometimes two or three pieces usually,” Hernani said. “They painted on canvas, then I just integrate everything digitally.

“The main piece in the centre is a painting and I just combine everything digitally with all of these other pieces painted as well too.”

The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation donated the mural to Prince Albert. The theme of this mural is Better for All – Diversity. Inclusion. Equality.

The United Nation’s ’17 Sustainable Development Goals’ were shared values and inspiration for the creation of the mural by all participants, such as zero hunger, no poverty, life on the land, good health and well-being, reduced inequalities, and climate action.

The youth participants named the mural Kistahpinanihk “the great meeting place.” In Cree, Kistahpinanihk can be translated as “the gathering place.” It speaks to their collaboration throughout the mural workshop, which allowed them to share, connect with their roots, talk about the future, and work together through art.

“The idea was collaborating and having as many people (involved) as possible,” Hernani said.

Ananda Nelson was one of the contributors and contributed a few pieces to the work, including a rendition of the Rotary Trail in Prince Albert.

“We used separate pieces of paper for each artwork,” Nelson said. “He gave us ideas (and) we did it off of that…. I thought it was just really fun, I am not very much of a creative person but going there made me feel like it.

“I really enjoyed the process, it was very easy and effortless is what it felt like.”

Elder Liz Settee was on hand to deliver the opening prayer. Settee was there when the project first began, and was encouraged to see it finally completed.

“To see what it was and to see what it is now is absolutely amazing,” she said.

Speakers included Nicole Matheis of CBYF, Judy MacLeod Campbell, Arts & Culture Coordinator for The City of Prince Albert., Denise MacDonald of the SCIC and Hernani.

Macleod Campbell and McDonald introduced the project.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to work with,” MacDonald said.

Macleod Campbell said McDonald approached the city in early 2021 about donating a mural by Hernani. The Public Art working group discussed it, but wanted to connect to the community and that is where the CBYF partnership came to be.

In his speech, Hernani thanked all of the partners in the project for making him feel welcome. He explained that it all came from a simple idea.

“Diversity, equality and inclusion was an inspiration for this and I had an opportunity to work with such an amazing group of youth, each of them work on specific pieces,” he said. “There are a lot of individual pieces here, so my role was to put all of the pieces together to represent some of the many things in the project, so they came up with climate action, no hunger, no poverty and inequality.”

Hernani said that each artist found an opportunity to express themselves with individual pieces and the mural was the finished product.

“It was a great opportunity for me to learn from them as well too,” he added. “It allows me to share where I was coming from and also learn a lot from them. (It) allows me to see how they connect with the land in this part of the world.”

During the mural’s development there was a presentation by Fred Payton of the Prince Albert Historical Society which created conversation and led to the name of the mural.

Matheis shared some thoughts on the experience from artists.

“Another youth Taylor Sasakamoose shared that she appreciated the opportunity to learn about our history and that she was honoured to be a part of this project,” Matheis said.

Nelson came to the project through the CBYF.

“Just knowing working with CBYF and knowing Nicole I got introduced to Bruno and saw it was a good project,” Nelson explained. “Like I said, I am not a creative person but seeing how easy it was I was all for it.”

In a release, Matheis said that a goal of the CBYF is for youth to feel a sense of community, and contributing to the mural is a great way to do it.

“By creating the mural, the youth could engage in conversation about our community and express their voice through art. The youth are proud to have their art, and their voice be a part of something big and are excited to share it with the community,” Matheis said.

Macleod Campbell touted the partnership aspect.

“It was a pleasure working with the SCIC, Bruno, and the youth to create the mural through the shared goals and values of diversity, inclusion, and equity. Public art adds vibrancy to our community and stimulates conversation. We hope you enjoy the new mural,” Macleod Campbell said.

Macdonald explained the mural explores important global issues facing humanity and the planet today and showcases our interconnectedness with people worldwide.

“We chose art as a tool for global social change because it helps us develop understanding in solidarity with others, and then work together to build a better world,” MacDonald said.

Seeing the finished piece impressed Nelson.

“It blew my mind,” she said. “It looks way larger than I expected and it is just so beautiful.

“Seeing everyone’s drawing all together (showing) what they think of Prince Albert really puts it all into perspective of how great Prince Albert really is.”

Funding support for this project was provided by The Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation, Global Affairs Canada, and The City of Prince Albert – Municipal Cultural Action Plan.

Nelson concluded by thanking everyone involved.

“Thank you to Bruno and thank you to everyone else who participated and thanks for making it a great time,” Nelson said.