Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools is proud to announce the completion of the Indigenous 13 Moons Mural Project at École Secondaire Sainte Marguerite d'Youville. Teacher Laurie Petersen and Educational Assistant Pat Karl spearheaded this initiative in collaboration with Indigenous Artist Penelope Moon Walker, engaging seven talented students from Grade 7 and Grade 9 in a transformative artistic journey.

The Indigenous 13 Moons Mural Project aimed to provide a space for identifying Indigenous students to reconnect with their cultural heritage, fostering an authentic and inclusive educational environment. Recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping young minds, this project sought to go beyond the historical European influences typically found in schools, creating room for alternative models and voices to thrive.

Penelope Moon Walker, a renowned Indigenous Artist, played a pivotal role in guiding the students through their artistic exploration. Born in Campbell River, BC, Penelope was adopted by a non-Indigenous family during the “sixties scoop.” Her journey of self-discovery led her to reconnect with her biological family from the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation of Cape Mudge in 2018. Penelope built new relationships through her artwork and infused healing energies into her creations, utilizing her profound connection with nature and her Indigenous heritage. Drawing upon her profound knowledge and passion for Indigenous culture, Penelope shared insights about the 13 Moons that hold immense significance in Indigenous traditions. She also offered advice, sketches, and techniques to enhance the student's creative processes, encouraging their artistic growth and self-expression.

Teacher Laurie Petersen expressed the project's motivation: "We wanted to create a space for our Indigenous students to connect with their culture.” Petersen emphasized the significance of an authentic presence and the need to strengthen community connections, adding, “It was crucial to offer an authentic voice within our school, which European perspectives have historically influenced. We believe in the importance of diverse models and voices in education."

The Indigenous 13 Moons Mural Project students shared their enthusiasm and gratitude for the experience. Grade 9 student Ronan Brady, one of the participants, remarked, "It was accessible for everyone, and I think there should be more opportunities to explore different cultures in a non-traditional education setting." Eva Morrison, a Métis identifying Grade 7 student, expressed appreciation for the opportunity to connect with her culture and hopes that there will be more projects in the future. Students also highlighted the value of receiving personalized guidance from Penelope Moon Walker, which deepened their understanding of art and encouraged them to continue pursuing their artistic endeavours.

The Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools community commends the dedication of Teacher Laurie Petersen, Educational Assistant Pat Karl, and Indigenous Artist Penelope Moon Walker for their exceptional contributions to the Indigenous 13 Moons Mural Project. This collaborative effort has empowered students to explore their cultural heritage and fostered a greater appreciation for Indigenous traditions and perspectives within the school.