From left to right, Bora Laskin Faculty of Law Dean Jula Hughes; Francine McKenzie, Robin Sutherland, Director of Indigenous Relations; and Corinna McKay and Jada Ferris from Neechee Studio unveiled Where the Heart Gathers on Thursday, Sept. 28, a woodland-style mural depicting Mount McKay.
September 28, 2023 – Thunder Bay, Ont.
Lakehead University’s Bora Laskin Faculty of Law unveiled a mural designed by Neechee Studio that serves to honour the children who did not return home, residential school survivors, and to illustrate the ongoing journey of healing and reconciliation.
The mural, titled Where the Heart Gathers, was unveiled on Thursday, Sept. 28.
The event was an opportunity to celebrate the mural and introduce some of the artists, as well as student and administration representatives from the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.
Neechee Studio is a free art and culture program for Indigenous youth ages 14-29 in Thunder Bay, organized by a team of young, aspiring, and professional Indigenous artists. The Faculty of Law is grateful and honoured by their support and efforts on this project.
“The importance of this piece cannot be overstated,” said Jula Hughes, Dean of the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law.
“It will serve as a touching reminder of the injustices of the past, but also the ways in which we, as a law school and also as individuals, can intentionally move forward in reconcili-action, mutual respect, and understanding.
“We are grateful to the artists from Neechee Studio for their beautiful vision, and also to the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support of this meaningful project,” Hughes said.
“It's important to remember what happened to us, as Indigenous people, to our families and communities; and to remember the generations of children that were impacted,” said Francine McKenzie, a second-year (2L) Law student and current President of the Indigenous Law Students Association.
“This mural will provide comfort to current and future Indigenous students who seek a space to reflect on their journey as an Indigenous person in Canada, and as they navigate their way through the journey of law that is not their own. It will serve as a reminder that it is our responsibility to ensure that this never happens again.”
Immediately following the mural unveiling, the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law hosted the annual Every Child Matters March in Waverley Park.
The event recognized and commemorated the legacy of residential schools, providing students, faculty, staff, and other community partners an opportunity to honour and stand in solidarity with residential school survivors.
The event included speakers (Elders, students, staff, faculty), some of whom bravely shared their lived and intergenerational experiences with residential schools. Afterward, all attendees completed a silent march around the block surrounding the Faculty of Law.
The Bora Laskin Faculty of Law received a grant from the Department of Canadian Heritage to fund projects and events in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The funding supported all of the day’s events, as well as the mural and a traditional feast.
Residential school survivor Irene Linklater spoke briefly before the Every Child Matters March on Thursday, Sept. 28.
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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has nine faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. Lakehead University’s achievements have been recognized nationally and internationally, including being ranked in the top half of Times Higher Education's 2023 World Universities Rankings for the fourth consecutive year, and the number one university in the world with fewer than 9,000 students in THE’s 2023 Impact Rankings (which assesses institutions against the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals). Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.