A cloth mural, depicting symbols sewn around a green outer ring as well as green inner ring, on top of the back of a turtle, with a medicine wheel in the centre, is spread out on the ground. Mandy Nelson is applying finishing touches on the inner ring of the mural.
Photo by Dylan Toombs

Creation Story

A huge, new mural at U of T Scarborough honours Indigenous culture

About The Author

Author image: Don Campbell

Don Campbell

Senior Writer and Editor, U of T Scarborough

A group of U of T Scarborough students and recent alumni are honouring their roots while learning about Indigenous culture and traditions as part of a collaborative mural project.

The mural, which was to be displayed this spring at The Meeting Place, depicts 20 different cultural symbols from around the world stencilled and sewn in a ring on the back of a turtle. Turtles play a central role in many Indigenous creation stories, while Algonquian- and Iroquoian-speaking peoples also refer to the continent of North America as Turtle Island. The inner circle of the mural features four different moccasins representing Indigenous nations across North America; a medicine wheel sits at the centre of the turtle’s back.

In the photo above, Mandy Nelson (BSc 2021 UTSC) applies finishing touches to the mural’s inner ring.

The project started last year when 15 non-Indigenous students from U of T Scarborough visited the Toronto Biennial of Art exhibit. Later, they learned about Indigenous culture and land acknowledgements under the guidance of Juanita Muise, U of T Scarborough’s Indigenous engagement co-ordinator.

Kevin Turingan, a fourth-year sociology student, chose to draw the distinctive eight-rayed golden sun found on the national flag of the Philippines. “Honouring where my family is from was a special experience, but it was also a powerful reminder that we all came from somewhere else and are living as settlers on Indigenous land.”

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