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An eagle and a sweetgrass braid will be among the images painted on this building, located near the visitor lookout at Mt. McKay on Fort William . (Amy Hadley/CBC) A group of young artists are bringing a splash of colour to Mount McKay, located on the Fort William First Nation, neighbouring Thunder Bay, Ont., in the form of a new spray painted mural.

The mural is the work of Neechee Studio, a program run through Definitely Superior Art Gallery in Thunder Bay, which provides workshops to young artists, led by Indigenous artists. The mural being painted at Mt. McKay on Fort William First Nation, also known by its Anishinaabe name, Anemki Wajiw, will honour the land, said Lucille Atlookan a co-founder and youth coordinator with Neechee Studio. (Amy Hadley/CBC) "It’s something totally new to us," said Lucille Atlookan, noting that it’s Neechee’s first spray paint mural project.

The young artists started by collaborating on a theme, she said, and came up with "What connects you to the land?" Young artists work on creating stencils for the images that will be painted on the wall. (Amy Hadley/CBC) "I think it will look totally different than what we see around town. It’s something that people will see when they come up here. They’ll see it from the powwows or visitors that come here for the lookout."

The location on the mountain is very significant, she said. Mount McKay is called Anemki-Wajiw in Ojibway, which translates as Thunder Mountain.

"We’re actually on sacred land. And we want to honour that." Visiting artists lend a hand

As they brainstorm ideas, cut stencils, and wield the cans of spray paint, the young artists are receiving some guidance from two visiting Indigenous artists. Jeneen Frei Njootli, a visiting artist from B.C., begins work on a mural on the side of a building near the Mount McKay lookout on Fort William First Nation in northwestern Ontario. (Amy Hadley/CBC) Jeneen Frei Njootli and Amanda Strong are both visiting from Vancouver.

"I think it’s really important that the imagery comes from the youth, and it’s their designs, their ideas," said Strong, a film artist who said she has also done some spray painting in the past. Visiting artist Amanda Strong adds some of the first colours to the mural. (Amy Hadley/CBC) "I really love to see what they envision come to life … it’s just really exciting," she said, noting that the youth have chosen powerful symbolism in images such as an eagle, and a turtle that will be incorporated into the design.

The aim is to complete the mural this week. Young artists try their hand at spray painting at Mt. McKay. (Amy Hadley/CBC) An exhibit featuring the work of Amanda Strong and Jeneen Frei Njootli will also open at Definitely Superior Art Gallery on Friday.

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