The Helen Betty Osborne building on the University of Winnipeg campus is wrapped in a mural of a star blanket. It was painted by a group of community artists led by Kenneth Lavallee and Annie Beach in August.
Angeline Nelson, the director of community learning and engagement of the Wii Chiiwaakanak Learning Centre located in the Helen Betty Osborne building, says a lot of people coming through the centre have asked about the mural or have said the mural is awesome.
“Having the Helen Betty Osborne building – a building named after a beautiful First Nation woman who was brutally murdered – wrapped in a star blanket, by an artist who wanted to honour and recognize Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls & Two-Spirit, is an absolutely beautiful way to honour MMIWG2S lives and survivors, as well as their families,” she says.
Star blankets are given as gifts of the highest honour. The geometric representation of the morning star is intended to protect, empower and give comfort and hope to those wearing it.
“The star blanket mural is meant to be for the public, for the community we engage, for the Indigenous community we work with and a representation of Indigenous people, whose land we live on,” Nelson says.
Nelson adds she would love to see more Indigenous art throughout the city and province.
“I used to live in Vancouver for four years and always thought it was incredible to see Indigenous art everywhere you go and thought that Winnipeg needs to do more of this,” she says. “Since moving back, I see and feel the shift towards ensuring that Indigenous people are visible through artwork all over the streets, which I love.”