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Indigenous artists paint murals with students at Fred A. Hamilton PS

May 25, 2022

GUELPH, ON – Students at Fred A. Hamilton PS extended their appreciation to Indigenous educators and muralists, Michael ‘Cy’ Cywink and Gerry Ranger, after spending several days creating murals that would hang on the walls of their school for generations to come. 

The students entered the gym to take their seats in a big circle for their “Circle Talk,” an exercise where they would discuss the events of the last few days, what they learned, and how they felt. The theme of the week was “Water is Life: Healing Through Colours.” 

Circle Talk started with Cywink handing out certificates of appreciation to every student who participated, commenting on student’s improvements painting, or how they participated throughout the week. The students then went in a circle sharing their gratitude to Cywink and Granger. 

“It was amazing to see students in a different way than how we would see them in the classroom,” said Fred A. Hamilton principal, Christine Labelle. 

Students described it as a long process, but they appreciated the experience because it taught them new skills, like how to paint or draw better. 

“It was a long process to finish all of these (murals), but I saw that there were people coming in every day willing to work hard to finish in time,” said Eli, about the project. 

During their Circle Talk, Cywink encouraged the students to use the skills they had, whether it was music, singing, writing, or drawing to express themselves and how they may be feeling. “Get it out of you and be creative, everything is an art,” said Cywink. 

Over the last few weeks, Cywink and Granger have been visiting schools across the UGDSB sharing Indigenous knowledge and encouraging students by working with them to leave something for the future students who will come after them.

“This project is going to be here as long as this school lasts,” said Cywink.

Cywink has been creating wall murals with youth since the early 1980s, but since 2009, he has been doing these school projects with the support of the Ontario Arts Board, Indigenous Arts Projects Program. 

Michael Cywink (left) with Gerry Granger (right) posed with Indigenous murals.

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