Last year CFN sought out an Indigenous artist to design a traditional and original symbol emblematic of our Indigenous Education for Newcomers Program.
The Centre for Newcomers’ Home Fire Story Wheel is an original design by artist Josh Littlelight, created under the consultation and guidance of Tsuu T’ina Nation Elder Frank Littlelight. In Indigenous culture, anything of importance that was painted was done from an overhead point of view. As a result, the story can be read from any angle and is a very important part of its creation. It shows that no matter where you come from, regardless of culture, race or religion, this story can be read and understood.
The horses that travel across the outer rim of the painting represent everyone’s long journey to be here with us and is why they’re all made up of different colours with different markings. Moving down into the blue section of the painting, broken arrows appear in each corner. This is an extremely powerful meaning to show continued peace without conflict. Elder Frank could not stress enough the importance of these broken arrows and their inclusion in the piece. The purple with the white blocks in the next section is an indigenous pattern for mountains. “We are a neighbour to the mountains, and they need to be shown,” said Elder Frank.
The horses and broken arrows are outside the mountains to show the distance traveled with peace before they arrive.
The red to pink section represents the families of all loved ones and loved ones still to come. This is included to show a newcomer’s home is here now. The figures of people standing together in the dark red section represents everyone in harmony. The hearts inside all are made up of only one color to show that here we are all equal.
The centre of the painting is the most important symbol included. Elder Frank explains newcomers need to know this is their home now and that they have no need to search anywhere else. The warmth and comfort from the centre Home Fire is for everyone.
The four teepees that surround the centre are Indigenous teachings shared with newcomers. Elder Frank says, “the Indigenous population would have shown newcomers to live off the land, how to hunt and care for their families.”
The different coloured smoke coming from the top of each teepee represents different newcomer families from different places of origin.
The entire colour scheme of the painting represents a sunrise from the centre out. The sunrise in Indigenous culture represents new horizons and the five circles represent Indigenous hand drums. Elder Frank explains this is not just CFN’s story, but CFN’s song and was painted with this much detail to show the importance of the Center for Newcomers. “CFN’s story can’t be told with one flat picture,” Frank stated.
He explains this painting is how it would have been done traditionally, so future generations could understand it. Therefore, it was designed to not only to be a logo, but a teaching tool for future generations of newcomers to Canada, and a way to show the unity between all peoples in Canada.