Sturgeon Falls is graced with another mural, this one a collaborative effort by Sturgeon Falls residents Danielle Beauchesne and daughter Madyson “Maddy” Morningstar. The painting, sponsored by Shawn Lavigne of Royal LePage Real Estate, went up on Sunday, December 12 on the walkway fence between Sturgeon Falls Carpet and the municipal fountain.
The two-panel mural, titled Ascendance, pays homage to the thousands of children lost to residential schools in Canada, children buried on residential school grounds. It features a series of hearts as roots, breaking through a barrier to rise and blossom as a garden of remembrance and renewal. It’s a highly evocative painting that will continue to serve as a reminder of what all Canadians had to face this last year – a history of genocide – while at the same time evoking a sense of re-emergence, renewal, and a beautiful enduring strength.
Madyson Morningstar’s father is Indigenous and, “My grandmother was in residential school,” she says. “We are calling the mural Ascendance, to rise, basically. The roots are supposed to be a little push, and the flowers blooming above are a representation of that as well.” Mother Danielle Beauchesne, who is not Indigenous, notes that, at first, she was asked by Gayle Primeau to paint a garden of poppies, but she had other ideas. “I wanted to do the roots to symbolize the children. Well, Maddy is Native. So, we have some wild tiger lilies, and poppies for remembrance.”
Ascendance also represents the notion that the truth always comes out in the end. “It popped up for a lot of people, while others always knew what was buried below the ground,” notes Maddy. Danielle agrees, “And they are still not talking about it. It’s barely the tip of the iceberg.” And while there were many victims who died, the questions about all the others who had to live with the consequences continue to need to be addressed, she adds. “I think it is to bring awareness, accountability, and support for Indigenous people and the ongoing issues.”
But if you are thinking that the art is a sad reminder, you’d be mistaken. It’s a joyous piece about resilience, very colourful, with metallic paint integrated into the mural so that when the sun shines on it, it sparkles. Danielle fell in love with an Indigenous man, and Maddy was the result of that union. It wasn’t always easy; she did live on the reserve and didn’t always feel welcome – but she understands that her partner’s family experienced trauma. She adds that the grandchildren are dearly loved.