In 2019 Sault Ste. Marie commissioned the creation of large scale murals by both globally renowned artists as well as exceptional talent within our own community. The next year local partners launched the inaugural Summer Moon Festival created to celebrate art and the many voices in our community.
In 2023 the Summer Moon Festival has grown to become an arts & music festival that not only includes real-time creation of large-scale public art, but also a pow wow in honour of National Indigenous Peoples Day, live music performances as well as interdisciplinary artist workshops.
Enjoy the murals year-round on this walking tour that was developed in partnership with the City of Sault Ste. Marie.
This project is a partnership with the Sault Ste. Marie Downtown Association, the Sault Ste. Marie Museum, and Tourism Sault Ste. Marie.
1. Battle for the Seven Clans
The inspiration for this mural comes from the sacred stories passed down for generations through the Anishinaabe Indigenous Peoples, the Stories of Aadizookaan, Tales of Nanabijou, and pictographs of the area. The mural features Mishipeshu which is a very prominent mythological water being that is featured in the Agawa Pictographs.
Nanabijou was a shapeshifter that is part human, bear, thunderbird, and plant. In the creation story Nanabijou and Mishipeshu were battling one another for the seven clans and to determine the fate of humanity. In the mural these incredible beings are powered by women on either side. The North wall features a woman with berries in her hair. She has a strawberry heart and is holding a bear cub and thunderbird nest. This woman represents spiritual medicine. Mishipeshu is powered by a woman on the west side of the building. Her spine is made of strawberry and also has a heart berry. Her hand is made of a vine that grows more Berries. Both of these women draw their strength from Mother Earth.
As an artist Thomas tries to include Roses (which are a sign of love) and Heart Berries in his work. Heart Berries (Strawberries) are an important food for animals and people in Ojibwa tradition. In sacred stories the soul-spirit of a strawberry was that of a being who was returned to earth in the form of this heart-shaped berry. Much like these Spiritual beings, Thomas also draws his strength from the strong females in his life, as well as from Mother Earth.
"There was an array of different narratives that started running through my mind when I was met with the opportunity to create this mural. I wanted to portray something that would allow the viewers to look inward, and process different emotions while taking it in.
"Left side of the wall is bricks cracking and breaking off exposing a portrait of a women hidden behind. Right side of the wall is a hand reaching through to find beauty in the world.
"This piece encompasses the process leading up to a final breakthrough. Being on one side of a wall which is metaphorically representing the feelings and insecurities of loneliness and fear, all the while unaware of the positive outcome on the other side.
"Finding the courage to break down those walls we all carry within us is the first step in all forms of healing. As daunting of a leap as this may seem, the first step, and each one that follows will help uncover faith in a world where many walk in fear. This aspect is highlighted by what the woman is holding in her hand. Although she cannot see it, does not make it any less real."
3. Northern Flight
This mural depicts a Canadian goose found in the Sault Ste. Marie area, painted in a kaleidoscope stained letter style of graffiti lettering, lines, shapes and shadows. The style of this mural is very modern, but is inspired by classic artists including impressionists and Old Masters. Bacon's goal with his art is to make people smile and change the vibe of neighbourhoods.
4. Spirit Horse
This mural is inspired by the animated movie 'Spirit'. "When the kids were little we watched it over and over again. At the time I had been exploring Metis heritage through art, exploring Ojibway style woodland type of painting. The horse and sun and land are all connected as we are to Mother Earth. Bebezhigooganzhii is the Ojibwa word for horse."
5. Rolling Pictures Horse
birdO reimagines the Rolling Pictures horse in his unique surreal style. With a cohesive colour scheme and elements of motion, the large-scale galloping creature is impossible to miss. birdO's intention with his art is always to leave an environment better than when he came. This mural, as part of Sault Ste. Marie's community art project, is no exception.
6. Planta Muisca
Daniela is from Columbia and was inspired by her homeland to paint a jungle theme with big bold graphics depicting nature and flowers.
A colourful magical jungle piece featuring Bachué. A mother goddess that according to the Muisca religion is the mother of humanity.
7. Girls in Strawberry Field
The girls depicted are leading each other into a brighter, happier, loving future, which is related to what the food bank is doing for the people of the community. The strawberry, which is grown in Northern Ontario represents the heart, the bear represents strength and courage, and this too mirrors the foodbank, which represents the heart and strength of the community
8. Ring Neck
Mishiikenh Kwe and Rihkee Strapp first began painting murals together at Nimkii Aazhibikong. Mishiikenh Kwe has always loved painting snakes because of her experience working in species at risk.
While doing community outreach Mishiikenh Kwe noticed that lots of people expressed fear and dislike for snakes. Together the artists want to honour the snake and to build appreciation for it.
Ring necked snakes are named for their distinct coloured pattern around their neck. If this small local snake is threatened it will display its bright underbelly to scare off predators.
9. Phoenix Rising
"My work, and by extension, my life; has always been heavily influenced by horror, science fiction and comic books. When the owners of Outspoken brewery requested dragons burning down a city as their contribution to the downtown's arts initiative, I got the call. My initial sketch was enthusiastically approved as it captured the 80's metal album cover and post-apocalyptic feel that they were looking for. I don't often get the opportunity to do commercial work that I can invest so much of my personality into; as a result, this has been amongst the more rewarding commissions of my career. I can only hope that the final product stokes the imagination and creativity of those who visit the terrace, enjoying a pint whilst bathed in dragonfire."
10. Sacred Story
This mural depicts Atizukin, one of the sacred stories of the Ojibway that is not often shared with the public. Told by Winter Walker, it is the story of how the North Shore was formed. Normally it is only spoken when snow is on the ground, or when the Pleiades are in the sky. Sinclair believes it is crucial to share these stories as many of the Indigenous elders and knowledge carriers are being lost.
11. Tree of Life on the Rapids
"Tree of Life on the Rapids" was created to make people feel good, and to remind the viewer that all things in this life are connected. It depicts the "Tree of Life", an iconic symbol for many cultures, which Sault Ste. Marie is becoming a home for. Behind the tree is the sun, which provides the energy everything here on earth relies upon. From the tree of life comes our food, tools we need, wood for our homes, and the fire we use to keep ourselves warm.
As your eye travels down the trunk, the roots remind us that we need a firm foundation so we can stay grounded in this life. Another essential part of our life is water, which roots will always seek. As your eye scans to the right you can see them transforming into the rapids that Sault Ste. Marie has long been known for. In the middle of this transition is the raven. Before the use of modern technology, they were used to carry messages over long distances. Using the raven as a symbol of communication, visually represents Village Media and their goal of conveying community news.
"I believe peace in its truest form, comes from within. For this mural I wanted to take the opportunity to represent the name of the restaurant the mural is being painted on in a literal way. The global symbol of peace, representing freedom from judgement, exclusion and negativity, is understood regardless of what language you speak. If we collectively conducted our lives with this symbol in mind, imagine what the world could be."
13. Hockey Town
This mural is inspired by the Soo Greyhounds, who play hockey across the street from the mural. It’s a recognition of the impact of hockey in the town and Mark hopes the mural will be an inspiration to artists and hockey players alike.
The painting features former Greyhound stars including Wayne Gretzky, Joe Thornton, Matt Murray and Darnell Nurse, who not only went on to have illustrious careers in the NHL, but have also proven to be great ambassadors for the game. Greyhounds hockey brings people together and helps to create a sense of community in Sault Ste. Marie.
"Hockey is more than a game. In Canada, it is a way of life. It encourages us to be gracious in victory and defeat. It teaches us to stay humble and play hard and to never give up ever."
14. Two Ships, Three Elks
Two Ships, Three Elks; There Is No Folly Of The Beasts Of The Earth, Which Is Not Infinitely Outdone By The Madness Of Men
The piece is inspired by some of the shipwrecks and landscape of Lake Superior, and the Elks... Jean Paul has a personal connection with Elks and has created many works of art that feature Elks including 'War With The Elks'
15. Cultural Connections
Cultural Connections is a truly unique collaboration between three great artists. On the right hand side facing the mural is the Falcon. The Falcon is representative of the area.
In the centre is Peru’s art. Peru143 is an internationally recognized Peruvian-Canadian muralist. Rooted in Positivism, Peru’s work aims to heal and uplift people’s spirits by transforming neglected and often oppressive spaces into safe, playful, and imaginative worlds. He describes his style as “playful geometry”. “All my work revolves around one common purpose; to heal, inspire and uplift people’s spirits. I didn’t know what I was going to paint until the moment we were all staring at the wall together. I was given the word “Biindigen” which means “Welcome” in Ojibwe and ran with it. This was the most effortless collaboration I’ve ever been a part of with communication often reduced to a nod. I couldn’t be prouder to have worked alongside legends Bacon and QueRock on this magical mural. 3 guys, 3 days and over 300 cans. One Love.”
QRock’s mural is on the left hand side. It depicts a medicine wheel; seven grandfathers and the thirteen grandmother clan system. Lots of geometry in the painting is based off of the teachings. Medicine wheels is 4 directions, seasons, earth, wind, fire, water. Wanted to create those layers of sacred geometry, so that it gives you a visual healing effect.