St. Mary’s First Nation Community Planning commissioned April Paul to beautify an overpass on Two Nations Crossing.
April Paul spent three months creating the massive artwork which includes various native symbols, all of which have connections to her people and community.
The corner panel of the north face of the mural features a flower — which was the start of the artwork.
The opposite panel has a butterfly on it named Dakota, after a girl in the community who committed suicide.
Cattails are featured on the southern face, along with a moose and turtle. Paul said she chose the turtle due to its place in Indigenous history. The belief among many eastern North American native peoples is that the continent grew off the back of a giant turtle.
The inside of the overpass is a bright strip of purple, for the colour’s connections to elders. The top of the side features the word Wolastoq, which means “the beautiful and bountiful river” in the Maliseet language.
Other symbols on the wall are things selected for their connections to the reserve: an eagle, a bear, another turtle, arrowheads, a canoe and water.
The bridge’s corrugated sides made applying paint tricky, but ultimately resulted in an unintended effect.
This was April Paul’s biggest artwork to date.
April was set on a career as an artist in Grade One after being inspired by her art teacher. Paul studied at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design when she was 25, and started teaching native art at the reserve’s elementary school after completing her certificate.
She then taught at Devon Middle School, and splitting time between the middle school and Fredericton’s two high schools. Paul dropped teaching and attended St. Thomas University to pursue a fine arts major.
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