Above: The mural was officially unveiled during a school assembly.

Mural Project at J.L. Mitchener Reflects Community, Identity and Indigenous Knowledge 

TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2023

Wisdom, love, respect, bravery, honesty, humility and truth. 

These concepts make up the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Seven Grandfather Teachings, a set of core values that come from Indigenous ways of knowing, and thanks to a year-long effort at J.L. Mitchener Public School, they’ve become guiding principles that help define the school community. 

Above: Grade 8 student Callie Turgeon poses with the recently unveiled mural.

“The idea for the mural came right from the Grandfather Teachings,” said Lisa Kostelny, Grade 1 teacher and the staff member guiding the mural club, a group of young artists from all grade levels who’ve been meeting after school this year to plan and work on the large-scale project. “Students spent the first part of the year thinking about these concepts and how they wanted to express them, with an animal representing each teaching, and in January, they started work on the mural itself.” 

The knowledge of the Grandfather Teachings has also provided connected themes for the school’s assemblies this year, with recognition awards honouring student achievement reflective of each individual teaching. 

“When we talk about Indigenous education, it’s not just for Indigenous students, it’s for all learners,” said Joe Tice, recently retired member of Grand Erie’s Indigenous Education team, who has worked with the school throughout the year, focusing on one teaching at a time. “Each teaching has a story, and we can all benefit from living according to the values and wisdom that can be taken from these stories.”  

Last week during the school’s assembly focused on wisdom, the completed mural project was unveiled, and will soon become a permanent fixture in the school’s hallway, expressing the culmination of this year’s learning to everyone who walks through the doors. 

“It’s very unique to be able to leave your mark on the school for future students to see,” said Callie Turgeon, a Grade 8 student and member of the mural club who reflected on the work she’s leaving behind and the wisdom she’ll take with her to secondary school. “It really makes you think about where the history of Canada comes from and how we learn from it to express who we are.” 

The momentum behind the school’s year-long and ongoing efforts align with Grand Erie’s collective priorities to build a culture of learning to nurture curiosity and opportunity, and belonging to support equitable, inclusive and responsive environments for each learner. 

Above: J.L. Mitchener educator Lisa Kostelny poses with the student team that brought the mural project to life this year.

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