Shaun Vincent points to a computer monitor that shows soaring eagles, salmon and a herd of caribou seemingly moving together in a brilliant blue circle.
The Winnipeg-based Metis graphic designer knows the weight of the image before him – it’s the logo for the Pope’s upcoming visit to Canada.
No other papal visit has had a logo like the swirling blue image Vincent designed. Each line and curve has meaning for indigenous peoples across the country and materializes as a great circular tide moving along with doves of peace and a bunch of keys to represent the Roman Catholic Church.
Vincent, 45, is an accomplished designer who has worked with indigenous communities and organizations for years. But when he was first approached to create images for the historic papal visit, Vincent said he turned down the offer.
“This one scared me a bit considering what’s at stake.”
Vincent hails from St. Laurent, a small community northwest of Winnipeg on the shores of Lake Manitoba that was settled by Metis families in the early 1800s. He remains connected to his country and culture, which influences his designs.
He worked closely with residential school survivors and elders and created the design layout for the National Residential School Memorial Register, which collected the names of all children who died at the facilities.
Vincent, like many across the country, has been closely following how Canada and the Catholic Church are reckoning with their history and the discovery of unmarked graves at the sites of numerous former hostels.
He watched from Manitoba as Pope Francis apologized at the Vatican earlier this year for the deplorable behavior of church members involved in these institutions.
Vincent said he was wondering what role, if any, he should take if Francis is personally bringing that apology to Canada. He consulted Knowledge Keepers, survivors, and his family as he grappled with the decision.
They encouraged him to look at the logo as a way to help heal.
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“We are where we are now and we have to move forward together,” says Vincent after a long silence.
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The Pope’s visit is scheduled to begin in Edmonton on July 24 and end in Iqaluit on July 29. It will include public and private events with a focus on indigenous participation. Francis is expected to deliver the apology at the Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis, Alberta.
At each stop along the journey, Vincent knows his design will be on full display. It’s a responsibility he thought deeply about as he put pen to paper.
“If you come here, if you come to this country, it has to represent this country and (these) peoples,” says Vincent.
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He says he thought about family and friends. He thought of traditions and teachings. He thought of the grandfather drum that gives rhythm to the dance, circles of floral beadwork and a circle of outstretched arms while the neck sang under the sun.
Vincent explains that in a circle everyone is equal. All are visible.
Then, says Vincent, he looked at plants and animals that have symbolism in many indigenous nations.
“The idea of walking together comes up in many different ways in many different communities,” he says.
“For me, I envisioned more herds, more groups of animals and how they support each other.”
To the circular image he added eagles dancing together in the sky, representing a connection to the Creator. He drew bison, symbolizing the support and strength of a herd. He sketched caribou as they persevere in harsh climes to find what they need to survive, along with arctic char and salmon, which provide sustenance and the strength of great migrations.
Vincent says he chose the color blue to emphasize the calming nature of water and air.
“(It) reinforces this idea that we should all take a deep breath and try to heal in whatever ways we can.”
The final design was approved by a committee that included elders and survivors.
Vincent says the logo is ready to go out into the world, but says it will develop new meanings for different people during the Pope’s visit.
He has faith that it will heal.
“I’m a little scared, but I’m confident,” he says.
“I hope everyone sees the good that I’ve tried to be in, and that’s all I can really hope for.”
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© 2022 The Canadian Press
https://globalnews.ca/news/8958556/forward-together-manitoba-metis-graphic-designer-logo-papal-visit/ ‘Forward Together:’ Manitoba Metis Graphic Designer Creates Logo for Pope’s Visit – Winnipeg