AKWESASNE, September 28, 2023 – The employees and Board of Directors of The Seaway International Bridge Corporation Ltd (SIBC) are proud to announce the unveiling of a remarkable mural on the historical northern pier at the Seaway International Bridge, created by Akwesasne artist, Kirby Thompson. This mural, titled “We the People” (Onkwakiòh:kwa in Mohawk), represents generations of Akwesasronon (People of Akwesasne) and underscores the evolution of the sport of lacrosse, termed “The Creator’s Game”, which has deeply entrenched cultural roots in the Mohawk community of Akwesasne since the early 1700s.
Born in Akwesasne, Kirby Thompson, aged 23, is a freelance mural artist. Her artistic journey began at SUNY Potsdam, where she pursued the Art Studio Program. It was there that she cultivated a passion for large-scale projects and mural art. Her artworks embellish the walls of SUNY Potsdam University, the SIBC’s administration building in Kawehno:ke (Cornwall Island), Akwesasne, and the historical pier at the Three Nations Bridge Crossing that connects Canada, Akwesasne, and the United States.
Kirby’s association with SIBC began as a seasonal maintenance worker in 2022. It was during this time that her exceptional talent as a muralist was discovered. Kirby’s artistic contributions to SIBC also include the design of an “Every Child Matters” logo for t-shirts to be worn by SIBC employees on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and the captivating mural affixed on the SIBC administration building. Currently, Kirby continues to contribute to the SIBC team as a Toll Attendant.
Historically, lacrosse, as detailed in the book “Tewaarathon (Lacrosse) Akwesasne’s Story of our National Game” produced by the North American Indian Travelling College, was more than a sport; it served as a means to settle significant disputes that could not be resolved through discussion. Additionally, Akwesasne is renowned for having a rich history in lacrosse stick making, which was not only an expression of Mohawk artisanship, but also a valuable trade item among various Indigenous Peoples playing lacrosse in the northeast.
Kirby Thompson stated, “I am eternally grateful for the opportunity not only to showcase my art to my community, but also to the surrounding communities.”
Natalie Kinloch, President of SIBC and Chief Executive Officer of The Federal Bridge Corporation Limited, added, “We are honoured to feature Kirby’s work, which resonates with the deep history and culture of Akwesasne. Since the construction of the Seaway International Bridge, members of the Akwesasne community as employees of SIBC have been its stewards. This project illustrates our ongoing commitment to celebrate and acknowledge their legacy and the rich cultural tapestry shaping our region.”
The mural was formally unveiled at a ceremony on Monday, September 25, 2023, on the sidewalk of the North Channel Bridge. Kirby Thompson was joined by SIBC employees and her family alongside SIBC board members for the unveiling.
For more updates on Kirby Thompson’s recent projects, follow her on Instagram @kthomp_art.
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