Within the walls of Lutherwood’s Child and Parent Place (CAPP) lies a mural that represents a commitment to providing safe spaces for families accessing care. In the summer of 2022, local Indigenous Artist Alanah Astehtsi Otsistohkwa (Morningstar) Jewel and Luke Swinson designed and painted a mural in Lutherwood’s child-friendly CAPP space in Kitchener.
Initially, Alanah was closed for commissions when Lauren Hird, Program Supervisor from CAPP first reached out to have her designs in the CAPP room. However, Alanah was intrigued by the opportunity to paint a mural to support our work for children and families.
Capp offers a space for supervised parenting time for parents and family members with their kids due to concerns such as parental conflict, mental health and addiction, domestic violence or extended periods of absence. There are books, activities, crafts, video games and board games for children and parents to enjoy together while under supervision. Adding Alanah’s mural was another way to foster a welcoming environment for all families to reconnect.
A necessity for Alanah’s work is that it exists in safe spaces. Before moving forward, Alanah provided questions centered around Lutherwood’s relationship with Indigenous people in the community.
In response, Lauren shared that CAPP opens each team meeting with a land acknowledgment that includes time to discuss anti-racist and anti-oppression learning and reflection on how it applies to the program and families CAPP serves.
The CAPP team also reflected on their relationship with Indigenous people by acknowledging that supervised parenting time is “very much rooted in oppressive systems,” that were developed decades ago. With this acknowledgment, CAPP strives to set its program up in a way that does not contribute to further harm for those who may have limited options to see their children.
Creating a safe and welcoming space is essential to the work CAPP supports. The mural is much more than a beautiful piece of art. It represents a safe space where families feel welcome and connected, and it also serves as a reminder of the continued learning, growth and accountability we have as a community agency in creating safe and welcoming spaces for Indigenous communities.
Thank you, Alanah and Luke, for creating this mural.
"I was in a cycle. I would be okay, then would struggle, then would crash and self-harm. Lutherwood had people there for me, always helping me. Instead of turning to self-harm, I learned to sit in my anxiety and feel it, to build awareness and resilience. Now, I am more confident and I know what I want in life. I miss the incredible staff there."