Healthy Communities

Artwork celebrates Indigenous History, Pride and Seniors Month

01 June 2023 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

June is a time to celebrate Indigenous History, Pride and Seniors Month.

This year, our charity commissioned the creation of an original digital artwork by Cody James Houle.

Cody Houle is a talented Anishinaabe artist living in Brantford, Ontario. With a deep passion for creating, Houle discovered his artistic talent as a self-taught painter, embarking on this artistic journey at the age of 31. While drawn to abstract imagery, it is the Woodland-style paintings that hold a special place in Cody’s heart, resonating deeply with his cultural identity. Through his art, he strives to showcase the beauty and significance of his heritage. He recognizes the importance of sharing his art as a means to inspire hope and encourage individuals from all walks of life to express their creativity.

In addition to this main piece, Cody also gifted the Y and our community with a thunderbird and floral piece. We’re thrilled to share them with you here.

Artwork depicting the connection between an Indigenous Elder and young Indigenous community leader with a colourful flag in the middle.Used with permission of the artist, Cody James Houle.

Main piece

Cody presents a captivating digital banner that artfully captures the profound connection between Indigenous Elders and young Indigenous leaders and community figures. Skillfully portraying this intergenerational bond, one side of the artwork showcases the wisdom and experience of an esteemed Elder, while the other side represents Cody's friend, Kikki, a respected leader and creator based in Toronto.

“In the banner piece I wanted to show the connection between Elders and young Indigenous leaders and community leaders.”
— Cody Houle

Artwork depicting a colourful thunderbird surrounded by hearts.Used with permission of the artist, Cody James Houle.

Thunderbird piece

In another striking creation, Cody explores the teachings of the Thunderbird. This powerful piece embodies the essence of love and pays tribute to our ancestors who epitomize unconditional love without judgment. Within the Thunderbird's majestic form, the colours of Pride harmoniously merge, symbolizing the inclusive nature of love and honouring the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

“The Thunderbird piece represents love and our ancestors; without judgement, they show love. The colours of the pride flag are within the Thunderbird.”
— Cody Houle

Artwork depicting a tree with two parallel branches of colourful flowers.Used with permission of the artist, Cody James Houle.

Floral piece

Cody’s artistic vision comes to life in a vibrant floral piece that radiates growth, understanding, and harmony. By infusing the artwork with the colors of the Pride and Woodland florals, Cody conveys a profound message beyond superficial differences. This captivating piece invites viewers to embrace a deeper level of empathy and appreciation, transcending divisions based on sexual orientation, skin colour or background, and celebrating the interconnectedness of humanity.

“I wanted this piece to show a flourishing floral with the colours of Pride and Indigenous florals. They represent growth and understanding of people on a deeper level than sexual orientation, skin colour, or background.”
— Cody Houle


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