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Hospital mural recognizes frontline workers

(Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)

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(Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)

Last Thursday, Lisa Westaway, the executive director at the Kateri Memorial Hospital Centre (KMHC), unveiled a mural as an expression of gratitude to the staff for all of their work and sacrifice during the pandemic.

Initially, the unveiling was supposed to be done with the staff present outside in the parking lot of KMHC, but unfortunately, that was not possible because of additional COVID-19 restrictions, according to Westaway.

Instead, the event was live streamed.

During the presentation, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake (MCK) chief and representative of the Board of Directors at KMHC Rhonda Kirby, congratulated the senior management at the hospital for commissioning the project. She said it was truly a much-deserved tribute to everyone’s resilience and determination, during these unpredictable times.

“I would like to congratulate our young artist, Megan Whyte, who was able to work on this project,” said Kirby.

Whyte is an art educator, art therapist, a local artist in the community, and The Eastern Door’s editorial cartoonist.

“The intention behind this mural was as a surprise gift to the staff at KMHC, so the staff were not aware that this was happening,” said Whyte.

Whyte explained that she was given information about the size of the mural, and with this, worked with some other visionaries to develop and plan out the design.

“I always work from a story. I work from an idea, from a feeling, and translate it into an image,” she said.

During the presentation, Whyte explained that the mural features two healthcare workers wearing beaded masks and welcoming the community with open hearts.

One of the healthcare workers is holding a smudge bowl, which the artist explained represents medicine. The moon cycle also appears in the artwork and signifies transition.

Whyte incorporated many other aspects of Kanien’kehá:ka culture in the mural.

“I feel honoured, and I have so much gratitude to be part of this process and to be part of this project,” said Whyte.

Westaway said that over the last few months, she and the senior management team had been trying to think of an innovative way to demonstrate and express to their staff how truly grateful and appreciative they are of them.

“It’s impossible to actually get that message across. We buy lunches, and we do little special events, but it is fleeting. It doesn’t really get to the heart of what we want to say,” said Westaway.

She explained that the idea behind the mural was inspired by a similar project that the Jewish General Hospital did to honour their staff.

She proposed the idea to senior management, and they all agreed that it was a wonderful plan, said Westaway.

“Today, it is an expression of that thankfulness for the long hours worked amid stress and fear. For having sacrificed your family’s safety at times to be able to give to our patients and community,” she said during her thank you speech to KMHC personnel.

Westaway said that the mural is a lasting way to show their gratitude to their employees, and that for generations to come, Kahnawake will remember their courage.

“Because of each of your contributions, Kahnawake is safe.”

[email protected]

(Marisela Amador The Eastern Door)

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