A new stand-alone and mobile mural – created in a collaboration between youth and elders – has been erected outside the Ehdah Cho Store on the Hay River Reserve.

The mural features 15 panels, created by young people and based on stories and a legend told by several elders in the 2018 Youth and Elder Story Art Project.

A mural was set up on Aug. 31 outside Ehdah Cho Store on the Hay River Reserve. The artwork is made up of painted panels created by young people and based on stories told by elders. The elders, young people and staff of K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) involved in the project included, bottom row, left to right: Angie Sabourin; Denise Sabourin, project co-ordinator; Chief Roy Fabian (back); Alex Tambour; and Lenny Fabian, a youth worker with KFN; and top row, left to right: Catherine Heron, band manager; Clifford Fabian, manager of Ehdah Cho Store; Destiny Smallgeese; Biancha Sabourin-Smallgeese; Keyara Yakinneah; Sheena Yakinneah; Calleigh Yakinneah; Shalayna McArthur; and Cheyanne Martel. Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

“Each elder told a different story,” said Denise Sabourin, the project co-ordinator for K’atlodeeche First Nation (KFN). “So the youth had to paint from that story and then it was going to be displayed.”

Sabourin said three elders, including Chief Roy Fabian, were involved in the project, along with a group of young people ranging from eight to 16 years of age.

She said one of the aims of the project was to get elders and youth working together.

There may also be other projects in the future involving youth and elders.

“We could do more because the elders and the youth always talk about how they can work together with each other and do activities,” said Sabourin. “So this is one of the first.”

It was also the first project for KFN under its Comprehensive Community Plan.

Work on the mural started on Aug. 27 and was wrapped up by Aug. 31.

Fabian said he shared an old-time story about why people don’t laugh or make noise at night.

“In the past, elders say there used to be people always wandering around looking for trouble,” he said. “There were always wars and war parties wandering around. So if you make too much noise at night, you attract people. So you don’t laugh or make noise at night.”

Plus, the chief said making noise at night would not only attract enemies, but might also bother the spirit world.

That story involved a woman who was laughing too much at night, and a spirit which appeared to a young man to tell him that the woman’s laughter was bothering the spirit world. The spirit told the man that it was going to shoot the woman with an arrow, but only he would be able to see the arrow, and he could remove it and throw it into a fire.

“The whole project was to give the elders a chance to tell some stories and then young people that are listening can try to make a drawing based on the story that was told,” said Fabian.

Several pieces of artwork resulted from the story told by the chief.

The mural can be moved to special occasions elsewhere on the reserve.

It was placed outside the Ehdah Cho Store because it is a busy location and many people will see the mural, which has been varnished and weatherproofed.

The posts, boards and woodworking for the project were completed by elder Herbert Bugghins.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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