The Original Peace Treaty

There is a large mural (40′ x 50′) in downtown Toronto on the west wall of the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts on Front Street East. It was painted by Quentin Commanda, aka Que Rock.

large mural with First Nations themes, painted by Quentin Commanda, outdoor scene, butterfly, bear in pink water, fish, turtle island, moose, orange grass, sunset or sunrise sky, woman sitting,

below: Commanda’s “Artist Statement” – see below the picture to read the transcription.

on a wall beside a mural, words that are the artist statement for the mural, also a picture of the artist, Quentin Commanda,

Artist Statement:

This mural is meant to be a visual healing experience. The seven rings around Grandfather Sun represent the seven Grandfather teachings of the Anishinaabe people: Wisdom, Love, Humility, Respect, Honesty, Courage, and Truth. There are many layers of sacred geometry patterns on the mural.

The skyline includes the medicine-wheel teachings, Grandmother Moon and the 13 grandmother clan systems. The turtle shell represents North America’s creation story, the 13 full moons per year, and the seven grandfather teachings.

The entire mural also represents the original Peace Treaty of the Six Nations on Turtle Island (North America). The story of the Six Nations Treaty starts with the original five Nations of Turtle Island: the Plant Nation, the Insect Nation, the Bird Nation, the Fish Nation, and the Animal Nation. All five Nations had to agree to let the Human Nation live here on Mother Earth. All five Nations agreed to be humanity’s teachers and the Human Nation was invited to share the land.

The Human Nation was given instructions on how to live on Mother Earth, walk gentle on Mother Earth, learn one new thing every day, and share with one another. These are some of the original instructions given to the Anishinaabe people. The bear represents a Medicine Clan. The Mukwa (bear) is a healer, it is the only animal who communicates with all Six Nations.

The bottom panel represents my story from the past, present, and future. The first character with the microphone is the future and present me. The second character represents my past as a native child with my dog Miangun and the path of healing I have taken to decolonize myself back to the Anishinaabe child I was born to be.

My mother is a residential school survivor and so was my father. I am no different than the 215 children found in Kamloops, B.C. I survived to tell you this story and share my experiences. My community is still here and so am I.

The Artist is from Nbiising or Nipissing First Nation, his traditional name is Manitou Nemeen (Spirit Dancing) and he is from the Miangun Dodem (Wolf Clan).

The orange background on the mural represents the missing/murdered Indigenous peoples of Turtle Island.

The mural was commissioned by TO Live

Carleton Village murals, Toronto 2021

Even when I walk in Toronto, sometimes I find myself in unfamiliar territory and so it was back in December when I went to investigate some alleys where I’d heard that new murals had been painted.

below: Around Toronto there are quite a few raccoons in murals by Emily May Rose. Here, these “trash pandas” are being watched over by a big white rat. Quite the dumpster fire!

mural in an alley by Emily May Rose of raccoons and a big white rat. One raccoon is setting fire to a dumpster

below: A large mural by BirdO (aka Jerry Rugg) beside Charles Sauriol school

below: Near the birdO mural (you can just see it on the left side here) is a house with street art covering the whole side of it.

the side of a house is covered with street art, 2 or 3 murals on both upper and lower storeys by Phillips Saunders and June Kim, in the background on the left side is a birdo mural

below: A man reaching out a multicoloured hand to a woman by Phillip Saunders covers the back part of the house

murals on the side of a house, a man and a woman with black curly hair

below: A brown octopus and bright coloured tiger playing together – a collaboration between Luvs and June Kim.

mural of a June Kim brightly colored tiger on the side of a house along with a brown octopus by Luvs

below: Baby birds with beaks uplifted in a mural by Bruno Smoky and Clandestinos

mural by Bruno Smoky and Clandestinos on a wood fence in an alley, baby birds in a nest with their beaks open waiting for parents to feed them

below: Blue jay and tomato face, rowdyradrat and Chris Perez

street art on a wood fence in a lane

below: Taking cover under umbrellas on a rainy day in a mural by Elicser Elliott

below: Mural in another lane with a signature says June, Bacon, and Erika.

below: A Nick Sweetman painting of a large Cuckoo wasp feeding on a yellow flower

mural by Nick Sweetman on a garage door in an alley, a large blue green Cuckoo wasp, on a yellow flower

below: A multi-lingual thank you to essential workers on Davenport – obrigado, gracias, merci, and grazie!

below: More of Emily May Roses’s mischievous raccoons and their cans of orange spray paint.

an emily may rose mural on the side of a dark grey building, showing raccoons playing around a white cube van, vandalism with orange spray paint

below: Mediah blues on the right and a Que Rock mural with indigenous themes and symbols on the left.

looking across a park in late December, two garages in an alley painted with murals, on the right is one in blues by mediah.  On the left is mural mural by Que Rock, indigenous themes, loons on the water, mother earth

below: Planta Muisca mural with an orange snake under a purple night sky.

a mural by muisca on a garage door in a lane, an orange snake in the purple night with moon and plant with large leaves

below: Anya Mielniczek’s woman’s face looks down the lane.

mural by Anya Mielniczek of a girls's head in pinks and oranges down a lane, rest of mural blocked by fence

below: A closer look of the mural reveals another woman’s head on the far side along with people mixing together in the central portion painted by Raoul

orange and pink woman's head by Anya Mielniczek along with a picture of a group of people, mostly men, by Raoul

below: Suri in grey tones while drinking, mural by haenahhh

mural on a garage door in an alley by haenahh of a woman sitting with a cup of coffee

below: HeldbyHuda mural

geometrics and shapes, abstract street art mural on a garage door by artist with instagram handle heldbyhuda

below: by Victoria Day

garage door mural by Victoria Day, stylized yellow and green flowers on a blue green gradient background

below: Sections of citrus fruit in glass bowls, real? reflections? by Steam

Steam, the artist, painted a mural on a garage door of citrus fruit sections in glass bowls

below: Fantasy creatures playing in a mural by Kisong Koh

mural by Kisong Koh on the door of a garage in a laneway of three nonsensical fantasy creatures, a purple animal with fins for legs is upside down, a grey creature is wearing blue boxer shorts with pink polka dots and the third has a long yellow beak, one human hand and foot, and long orange hair

below: Mural by Kseniya Tsoy on a garage door.

bright and colourful mural in an alley of a woman with long purplish black hair, very white skin, and a blue low necked top.  She's holding a pomegranate and two branches with green leaves and red flower

Support for the alley murals was provided by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.

I have included most of the paintings but not all. For a complete set of photos, please take a look on Erika James’s Instagram page as she was one of the organizers of the project and she has documented it well.

These murals also appear on my Walking Toronto blog in two separate posts:
1. Around Wadsworth Park and
2. South of Davenport