Artist brightens school wall with Indigenous-themed paiting

From left École Our Lady of the Rosary School vice principal David Griffin, artist Ryan Willert and principal Rob Coumont. Submitted photo

Local Indigenous artist Ryan Willert shared his amazing talent and knowledge with students at École Our Lady of the Rosary School on May 16.

Willert created an Indigenous-themed painting on a wall in the school’s gathering area.

“The golden eagle means business and it is a powerful animal that is respected,” Willert said, adding that it is an “adult eagle who has lost its spots and is ready to deal with its emotions in a positive way.”

The painting also includes an orange sun representing “Every Child Matters.” It honours the importance of all children, including the ones left behind and the adult survivors of residential schools who are still healing.

“This is important for all of us,” Willert said.

The Indigenous Education Services team of the Red Deer Catholic Regional schools helped Our Lady of the Rosary to connect with Willert, who graciously accepted working on this important project.

Willert also spoke about the buffalo being an Indigenous symbol of respect.

Willert showed students how one could connect with God in their own ways and that people have much more in common spiritually with each other than we have uncommon.

The best way to grow in love of others is to seek to understand them. That is why learning about Indigenous culture is important for all students.

All the kids were excited and thought it was very cool to watch Willert do his work with such joy. Some students literally had sore necks from looking up at the artwork in awe.

When Willert was sharing his knowledge, he sang a beautiful sundance prayer of the golden eagle. The beating of his drum and his passionate song mesmerized students in attendance.

Chills shot through the gymnasium during the beautiful prayer.

Ryan was an amazing part of our school community while he worked on this artwork for us and he will always have a special place where he can come and visit, share knowledge, and reflect on his beautiful work.

This important work will help bring us all together for generations to come.

— Submitted by David Griffin

Vice Principal, École Our Lady of the Rosary School

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