Cree artists unveil mural to honour Indigenous community leader, Amy Willier

Willier was the co-founder of Moonstone Creation in Inglewood

This mural, created by local Cree artists Kayla Bellerose and Mackenzie Brown pays tribute to local Indigenous leader, Amy Willier. CONTRIBUTED

A new mural honouring a long-time Calgary Indigenous artisan and community leader was unveiled by a duo of local Cree artists.

CONTRIBUTED

The new mural, done by Cree artists Kayla Bellerose (bb iskwew) and Mackenzie Brown (Kamâmak) is a part of the Beltline Urban Mural Project.

The mural is of Indigenous community leader, and co-founder of Moonstone Creation in Inglewood, Amy Willier. It’s local on the south side of the new BLVD building at 1229 Macleod Trail SE, facing 13 Avenue.

Willier died in January.

“As two Nehiyaw Iskwewak (Cree women) artists, we were both impacted by the loss of a community matriarch, artisan, and entrepreneur, Amy Willier, the co-founder of Moonstone Creation in Inglewood,” the artists wrote in a joint statement.

“In our state of grief for such a big loss in the Alberta Indigenous arts community, we created this piece in tribute to the powerful legacy Amy Willier has left in our hearts.”

The pair talked with Yvonne Jobin, Amy’s mother, to get her consent for the large-scale, permanent mural.

The meaning behind the mural

The mural is a recreation of an original photograph by Yamuna Flaherty, one of Amy’s friends. In that photo, Willier is wearing a buffalo robe.

The artists described the meaning of the mural.

The circle behind Amy’s portrait is the sun with 7 beams of light representing the 7 Sacred Teachings of Truth, Honesty, Respect, Humility, Love, Wisdom, and Courage. Amy Willier embodied these teachings with the way she lived her life with family and community. The symmetrical butterflies represent the transformation of coming from darkness into light, and we chose the colour orange to honour the children being found at unmarked mass graves in residential schools across Canada, and green to honour the intergenerational healing of our future generations. Amy advocated for Orange Shirt Day for years, so we know that she is now a helper in the spirit world bringing home the children who never made it back to their family.

Lastly, Amy was a knowledge keeper of Cree women’s medicine, and shared teachings with Kayla before passing, so the beaded style plant life in front of Amy represents the medicine teachings she shared, and are stylistically like beadwork to honour her legacy as an Indigenous artisan and beader. Raspberries, rose hips, and sage are women’s medicines that Amy shared teachings about before her passing. The tiger lily in her hair was suggested by Yvonne who shared that those were her favourite flowers, and they grow wild throughout Alberta.”

Peter Oliver, president of the Beltline Neighbourhoods Association (BNA), said it was an honour to support this work. The BNA is the driving force behind BUMP.

“Amy’s passing was a major loss for the community,” Oliver said. We’re incredibly thrilled to support Kayla and Mackenzie in honouring Amy’s legacy with this beautiful new mural as part of the 2021 BUMP Festival,” Oliver said.

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