By Jasmine Franklin
While driving through the Samson Cree Nation in Hobbema don’t be surprised to see beautiful colors and native art designs painted onto homes.
Hobbema has changed its face over the last three months, and though the town is known for graffiti and overall rough activity, the leaders and community members of Samson Cree Nation are doing their part to bring back the life of the town by painting native art and symbols on homes.
“We are doing this to rekindle the community spirit,” said Debra Buffalo, communications developing co-ordinator. “We make a point to incorporate cultural meanings into our designs.”
The project began in September after a local group called Citizens in Action decided it was time to crack down on graffiti with in the Samson community.
“We were getting fed up with all of the graffiti on homes and having to go cover it up on weekends,” Buffalo said. “We knew just patching over one small area wasn’t going to do anything, but if we were able to cover a whole wall with art it just might work.”
And so the committee put in a proposal to Chief Marvin Yellowbird where the pilot and work experience project to paint houses was approved.
The houses are being painted by local artists and Buffalo said they too are benefitting from the project.
“This isn’t only beneficial for the community, but the artists are really growing,” Buffalo said. “Being able to use their talents and have the world see it has just been great for their self-esteem.”
To date, 23 homes have been painted in bright colours and native symbols, making the neighborhood brighter and more culture enriched.
Resident Helena Soosay’s house is one that can’t be missed. The side of her home is covered with a banner of a medicine wheel that stands for protection.
“We got to pick which designs we wanted,” Soosay said. “It’s something to look at, it really makes the community look nice.”
Soosay isn’t the only satisfied resident with art on her home. Kevin Thom has a bright red firebird on the front of his house, attracting eyes from everywhere.
“I like it, it’s very noticeable,” Thom said. “It brought a lot of people together for the better.”
Buffalo said since the 23 homes have been painted, few have been sprayed over by graffiti.
“We had one incident with a small mark-up but we knew the kids who did it,” Buffalo said. “When we approached them to talk about it we actually got them to help out in the painting.”
The homes will continue to be painted for as long as funding and weather permits, Buffalo said.
But requests for the external art have come from everywhere.
“It’s just exploding. We are going to be working on a murial for the kindergarten class inside the school during the winter,” Buffalo said. “We’ve also gotten requests from people in the country wanting the same art.”
The project was originally planned to be only three months long, but with its popularity it looks to be extended to a six-month project.
“There’s no doubt there are still some issues within the community,” Buffalo said. “But this has really uplifted everyone. It has been a whole community effort from all the departments, leaders, the chief and all the support of the community for having the same positive vision.”