“Cross-cultural communication is a field of study that looks at how people from differing cultural backgrounds communicate, in similar and different ways among themselves, and how they endeavor to communicate across cultures”.
And this exactly what I have witnessed through the creation of “Canadian Pride, Harmony in Cultures” community mural for our Hunt Club – Riverside Community Centre.
Members of my diverse neighbourhood, (all genders and ages 14 and up) originally from, or with ancestry from countries like Peru, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Congo, Ghana, Poland, Britain, Syria, Mexico, Holland, Lithuania, Quebec, France, Lebanon, Venezuela, Hungary, China, Sudan, Scotia, Ukraine, Egypt, Germany, Russia, Ireland, Sweden and Turkey, have been part of the creation of this mural.
Since mid-April when we had our first three brainstorm sessions until now, we have had 31 community art sessions. With the exception of three teen girls that came along with a friend, we are new to each other and this has been a gift for each of us and for the community: interesting conversations, new friends, cultural and generational exchanges and collaboration moments. I can’t be happier or more thankful!
I love people, making new friends and learning form the different cultures around. People participating in community projects definitely love people too and for all of us these thirty-one sessions together, creating art pieces that represent our countries of origin, have been a fun growing experience.
Among all the pieces of the mural there is one that represents Aboriginal Canadian Cultures from Ocean to Ocean (Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic) and their relationship with Mother Nature. This piece has brought another gift to all of us: the opportunity to learn from, share with and meet aboriginal artists and members of the different Indigenous communities.
I have approached Aboriginal institutions like Wabano, The Inuit Children’s Centre, the Kabeshinan Minitig Pavilion at Victoria Island and met some amazing aboriginal artists. They have been all very kind and generous and are pleased with the fact that we are asking for their guidance.
I had the privilege to be invited by Indigenous Artist Doreen Stevens, to help in painting a Tipi (as a cultural exchange) for the eight annual World vintage rugby event at Kitiganzibi First Nation reserve in Maniwaki. This Tipi, representing their Anishinaabe clans, was created for a cultural exchange with Maori IWI Elders, people of Aoeara from New Zealand. Doreen was the artist doing the tour of the clans to the Maori Elders attending the rugby event.
During my visit I met kind artists who taught me about their culture and guided me in choosing a common image to represent the Algonquin culture and all the cultures that inhabit the lands from the centre of the country to the East Coast in my mural.
I got to paint an Eagle for the Tipi! The leader of the Bird Clan that represents the spiritualism for the people and guide their vision, the bird that brings the prayers to the creator, the knowledge keeper… What a privilege and wonderful experience…!
I met also with a group of Inuit youth and with Ruth Kadlutsiak an Elder quilt maker at the Inuit Children’s Centre and we talked about the best image to represent them. One of the very special things about this meeting was the presence of Alice and Brian, a Chinese couple, resident of Hunt Club – Riverside, who has been a very important part of our mural painting team and who spent 15 years living up North. Between Ruth’s knowledge and wisdom, the suggestions of the Inuit youth and Brian and Alice’s vision our meeting was a success and we got to define the image to represent the Inuit Culture in our mural.
Inquiring about West Coast culture I have had the pleasure to speak with Bill Montgomery and Vincent Kicknosway, two exceptional and knowledgeable artists. We haven’t met yet but the exchange has been very educational and generous.
Next week, Algonquin artist Doreen Stevens and her daughter Charlotte, Inuit artists Ruth, Sailym and Jasmine, and possibly Bill Montgomery or Vincent Kicknosway West Coast artists will join us to paint the Aboriginal piece of our mural!
If somebody asks about the importance of Art in Cross-cultural communication and community building, this would be a beautiful example.
A tribute to Claudia Salguero.
The Mural Painting Community Project is analogous to the United Nations. The function is the same, a group of very different people get together to do something worthwhile. The reason for our success is, we checked our egos and indifferences at the door. If the leaders of the world would follow our example, the protection of this planet and world peace could be achieved.
I have to pay tribute to our very artistic, talented and warm hearted facilitator Claudia Salguero who held our hands and lead us all the way.
Claudia, I will not be surprised if someone at the UN sees this tribute, they would be knocking at your door to give you a portfolio to be in charge of world peace.