Photo by May Shi @mmayshi
Artist(s): Nathan Menguinis

Traveling Family

Completed: 2021

“In this mural artwork I felt like I needed to make something that has an orange background as a reminder of the poor 215 babies who were found and how that number is in the thousands presently and the realities of the “generational impact” that the residential school had to this day. I am relearning my language because of that and I used my art to help save my language.

I also had a feeling to create something to honour my people, the great Dèné Nation, and we are the Beaver people of the Treaty 7 territory.

Tsuu T’ina are known to be the most warlike Nation in this area and we’re hard to find in our lands. We travelled from far, far south to up north and always called here home.

“The man is dressed in his Sunday best with his hair braided in four braids, just like what I do when dancing at powwows or something very important. He is leading the way and his rifle is yellow to represent protection. The blue blanket with white dots is hanging over one shoulder to show he is a respectable warrior and the white paint is something the Dèné do when going into battle or dancing at a powwow.

The woman is holding a staff to represent peace and she also has their baby in a cradle board on her back.

A long time ago, when you traveled, you had to make sure your baby was well protected and didn’t cry while travelling near enemy camps or through enemy territories. So moss bags and cradle boards helped protect the baby from crying and also is very soothing and peaceful to the baby.

She has a beaded hat on that has the ceremonial colours on the rim of the hat, and also she has a purple shirt on showing she is important, and also purple represents thunderbird and is the women’s colour.

She is also leading the horse behind her.

The horse following is their pack horse and also has a travois to represent travelling great distance and a white teepee is on the travois wrapped up with blue string.

The swans represent life partners and also represent travelling great distances.

The white dots are a symbol for footprints and used for travelling in old pictograph hide drawings that I have been studying.”

Nathan also explained the significance behind each of the colors he used:
White – something that is holy
Yellow – is a protection colour and represent the sun
Purple – thunder bird and women colour
Blue – the sky and an all the water we need to survive
Green – represents all plant life
Red – Mother Earth
Orange – the realities of residential schools and in my culture it represents the rainbow

Text taken from

Part of YYC BUMP (Beltline Urban Murals Project)
Sponsored by TD Canada Trust

For more information on this mural visit:

Where to Find This Mural

Location: 1117 MACLEOD TRAIL SE, T2G 2M8, CALGARY, ALBERTA Get Directions

Accessibility: Fence running along middle of mural separating the imagery of swans from people. Still accessible to public, just need to walk around the fence.