A tail grass prairie field in the Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada, contains a set of meaningful murals
The city of Selkirk is located on the banks of the Red River about 35 kilometres (22 miles) north of Winnipeg, the capital city of Manitoba, Canada. Here you’ll find a small tall grass prairie with a collection of murals honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The Urban Prairie sits behind the Gaynor Family Regional Library on 806 Manitoba Avenue. Its three acres were planted in 2014 to recreate a tall grass prairie habitat, one of the world’s most endangered habitats.
Before European settlement, over 68 million hectares of tall grass prairie stretched in a sea of grass from southern Manitoba to northern Texas in the United States. In the 1800s, the region opened up as prime farmland. Within a few generations, 96% of the original tall grass prairie was gone.
When the Urban Prairie was being created, farmers around Selkirk donated mounds of compost to fortify the soil, something herds of bison and other animals would have done in the past. The site was seeded with over 50 different native grass and flowering plants species.
A walking path with interpretive signage borders the Urban Prairie.
Legacy of Love
In the midst of the Urban Prairie you’ll find a set of murals honouring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. It was painted in 2021 by artist Charlie Johnston and a group of mentees who were part of the Interlake Art Club mentoring program.
Four large panels border a walking path around natural prairie grasses in the shape of a turtle. The outside of the mural is painted as a turtle shell to depict North America. Some Indigenous peoples referred to the continent of North America as Turtle Island. The name comes from various oral histories that tell the story of a turtle holding the world on its back. The inside paintings on the four large murals represent the four directions that align to the life cycles and spiritual paths of Indigenous peoples.
Many other murals can be found throughout Selkirk, particularly in its downtown. The block of Manitoba Avenue between Main and Eveline streets contains several. Read more in my post The Murals of Selkirk.
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