Saint Michael’s Mission and the First Nations Mural

Behind the red door at 137 Avenue du Président-Kennedy in downtown Montreal, the interior walls are no longer painted white.

That’s because this summer, downtown St. Michael’s Mission had some artists come in and paint murals on their walls – in a First Nations theme.  

By Colin McGregor

Part of the St. Michael’s Mission mural.

“The walls were all white,” says Chantal Laferrière, the Mission’s Executive Director. “Just because the space is for the homeless doesn’t mean that it has to be boring.”

Through her partner’s connection she got in touch with Mexican muralist Rubén Carrasco. Based in Montréal, Rubén came to see the Mission, in the basement of St. John the Evangelist Anglican church, in the shadow of Place des Arts. “He tripped out over the idea,” says Chantal.

The mural’s theme is inspired by First Nations myths and legends. “Because we have an important First Nations, Inuit, Innu community at the Mission, it was important for me that we represent them. To show them that they’re important to us, that their culture is important to us.”

Part of the St. Michael’s Mission mural.

Financed by GFL, Green for Life, a Canadian waste management company, and the Mission itself, Rubén and his team got to work.

“It’s been a good challenge,” says Maika, a graphic designer who painted on the project.

“I had painted a graffiti next to one of his (Rubén’s) murals some time ago. His work had really resonated with me.” The pair stayed in touch, and when the St. Michael’s Mission project came up, Maika jumped in with both feet.

“People are intrigued,” Mika says of the painting process. “They come see what you’re up to.”

Part of the St. Michael’s Mission mural.

Francisco Gomez, a regional industrial service manager for GFL, says his company was happy to participate. “It gave us a goal… to give back to the community through the art.”

It is reported that the numbers of people in need using the Mission’s services has jumped considerably over the summer months.

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