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Old Mill Subway Station Rail Bridge Mural - Part 1


My name is Philip Cote and my indigenous name is  Nodjmowin Miskogayaashk. And I'm the artist that created this work down here under the subway at Old Mill, located along the edge of the Humber River. 

And the river itself has ‎a long history with indigenous people. We have a name for the river. We don't call it the Humber. We call it Kabechenong. And Kabechenong means, "Leave the canoes and go back". And so when we say this, you're talking about an activity that was happening down along this river. Probably for the last five thousand years there's been a trade network that came through Toronto that went to the Northwest Territories and down to Mexico and Central America and then back up. And it actually played a big role in the reasons why I started to create images for this mural.

There’s ten murals altogether. The first mural, when you're looking at this big blue wall, you can see there's a figure, a profile of a man looking off into this big shape. And that shape that you see looks like a feather, a yellow feather floating in front of that face. It actually represents billions of galaxies spread out over the universe.

And so the reason why I chose that image to begin the story is because the Anishinaabe people talk about the beginning of the universe.  And you couldn't see anything, but there was something there. Spirit was there. And that spirit decided to send signals out into the universe and waited for a response. And when no response happened that spirit called the signals back and said, "As you come back to me, create light in the universe". And at that moment they had light and dark in the universe. And that is the beginning of the Anishinaabe cosmology. Everything for Anishinaabe is made of light and dark. Everything we look at has a spirit, everything, the ground, the rocks, the sand, the trees, the birds, the plants, everything is… and even our sun and our Mother Earth and the moon, they all have a spirit.