Congratulations to Jules Koostachin who headed the memorial project on seeing this vision realized. Listen to Jules on CBC radio talking about the change that Shannen didn’t get to see, but that others continue to pursue in her memory:
From Muskrat Magazine, 27 October 2015:
Sculpture by Tyler Fauvelle
569 Main Street
Lively, Ontario, P3Y 1M9
For Immediate Release – October 27, 2015
Sudbury Artist Unveils Sculpture Honouring Shannen Koostachin
Public art commemorates Cree youth who led the struggle for a new school in Attawapiskat
SUDBURY, Ontario – A monument commemorating Shannen Koostachin, a young Cree activist from Attawapiskat First Nation, was unveiled on October 24th at the New Liskeard, Ontario waterfront. Koostachin led the struggle for a new school in Attawapiskat, and was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize.
Tyler Fauvelle, a professional sculptor based in Sudbury, Ontario, created the figurative bronze sculpture, which depicts Shannen dancing in traditional regalia, and features symbols reflecting her Cree heritage. (www.tylerfauvelle.ca) Jules Arita Koostachin, multi-media artist and a relative of Shannen’s, led the commemorative project, which included installing butterfly benches near the monument, and the production of a short documentary film. Kenneth (Jake) Chakasim, lecturer with the Laurentian University School of Architecture, and Rick Miller, an accomplished Canadian photographer and videographer, were part of the project team.
When the only elementary school in Attawapiskat was condemned, and replaced with portable trailers that were cold and mice-infested, Shannen Koostachin led the youth-driven Attawapiskat School Campaign, persistently advocating for a “safe and comfy” school. The students eventually succeeded, but Shannen didn’t live to see it – she was fifteen years old when her life suddenly ended in a motor vehicle accident in 2010. Family, friends and community started Shannen’s Dream, a campaign for decent schools for all First Nations children across Canada, and for quality, culturally-based education.
On October 24th, Shannen’s family joined friends and dignitaries to honour and lovingly remember Koostachin. Among the dignitaries were Theresa Spence (former Chief of Attawapiskat First Nation), Charlie Angus (MP), and Carman Kidd (Mayor of Temiskaming Shores). The solemn event included a traditional blessing, and smudge ceremony.
“I’ve attended several unveilings of my work,” said Fauvelle, “but this one was different. When the bronze of Shannen was unveiled, there wasn’t a sound. No one spoke. Then, I saw all the tears, and the quiet smiles. It was an emotional reminder that this proud young activist, admired by so many, had also been a daughter, a sister, a friend.”
Fauvelle sculpts in clay, and casts his work in bronze. His public art includes commemorations of the Wendat people, John Graves Simcoe, famous prospectors of the Porcupine gold rush, Ukrainian cultural hero Taras Shevchenko, and Canadian folk/country singer, Stompin’ Tom Connors. He is currently working on a life-sized bronze of Francis Pegahmagabow, the most highly-decorated First Nations soldier in Canadian history.
(Photo credit: Tyler Fauvelle)