By Neebin Prince, Mattagami First Nation
This painting of a mother polar bear sleeping under the sun with her two baby cubs is a stunning Indigenous illustration of the stillness, rest, patience, and beauty that comes with the season of bboon (winter). The colours and patterns of this image radiate the calmness, peace, and building of strength that we experience through our Indigenous teachings surrounding this cold time of year.
During winter, the land goes to sleep. The cold blanket of nbi (water) in the form of goon (snow) protects the land as it rests. This is an important time for humans, animals, and other walks of life because it is time for our spirits to rejuvenate with the land. The earth we walk on is a part of us, as we are the earth. The mother bear sleeping and being comforted by the soft snow and the beaming sun while providing comfort for her two young cubs is a representation of the way our spirits and the land rest together during this season, while protecting each other.
This message of the painting is a reflection of hope because it is a reminder that, just like us humans physically and spiritually, the land too needs rest. The cold of the winter may seem striking and some days we long for the heat of the sun to warm our world again, but it is the hope through this season that gives us the strength and courage to continue building our spirits. It is a divine representation of the need to rest, even through the deepest intensities of winters we face in our journeys, to protect our spirits and flourish once again when our time comes, hand in hand with mnookmi (spring).
This illustration was given to me as an outline (drawing) on a canvas. The outline was filled in and brought to life with acrylic paints. The artist who created this illustration is unknown, and we would love to acknowledge the artist if they recognize this piece. We are so grateful for this picture and would love to extend our gratitude to them.
Original artist unknown
Neebin Prince is a 21 years old Anishinaabe Kwe from Mattagami First Nation Territory.