A new art piece will be on display at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina, courtesy of high school students from the Ochapowace First Nation.
On Tuesday, a three-panel canvas piece was unveiled which was painted by the students. It depicts a scene featuring several buffaloes — an animal that symbolizes strength and courage — and includes a white buffalo, which is especially rare.
The aim of the art is to bring hope to cancer patients.
The buffalo was the idea of artist and elder Michael Lonechild, who guided the students who worked on the painting, said Tristan Isaac, one of the students who helped create the piece.
For Kiyomi Chartrand, the project was a coming out of sorts. She said she had little confidence in her abilities when she found out about it.
“After learning with Michael, it just gave me more confidence,” Chartrand said.
“Now, I’m just happy to show my work and it gave me a lot of courage.”
It was a sentiment shared by Isaac. Though he was always into art, he said learning from Lonechild was something he had wanted to do for a while.
The title of the piece, which also includes several smaller canvases painted by other students, is Hope, Courage and Strength in English. Its Cree title is Wâpi Paskwâwi Moscosis, which translates to “white buffalo calf.”
The art was commissioned as part of a collaboration between the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.
Ochapowace was one of five communities participating in the collaboration.