Tristen Jenni, mural artist

In September 2021, to acknowledge the first official National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we commissioned Indigenous artists across Canada to create murals at several of our Petro‑Canada locations. Tristen Jenni – a Cree painter and tattoo artist from James Smith, Saskatchewan, which is on Treaty 6 territory, and currently residing in Edmonton, Alberta – created her mural, “Healing,” at our 1830 102 Street NW in Edmonton, Alberta.

Tristen grew up in an artistic family. She remembers her father sitting at the kitchen table painting feathers and making regalia while her kokum (the Cree word for “grandmother”) fashioned star quilts. “I have been an artist for my whole life. My dad really pushed us to be creative. Some of my brothers are musicians; I have brothers that draw as well. We grew up learning how important it is to express yourself through art. I am so thankful to my dad for being so open-minded about art, showing us how to be creative and to express ourselves through art, dance and ceremony.”

Passing down a legacy of creativity and art to her children is important to Tristen. “My son plays instruments and sings. My daughter likes drawing and beading; she’s been beading since she was three! I’m so proud of this artistic gift that started with my kokum, then from my father, then rolling down through me and to my kids. It’s beautiful to see that and be a part of it.”

For her mural, Tristen drew inspiration from the space in which her mural would be created as well as her dreams. She wanted to create a mural that told the story of the jingle dance… where the sound of the dance mimics the sound of water. “A lot of people don’t know what the jingle dance represents. Water, in a lot of cultures, brings healing and new beginnings. It’s so beautiful to have my art represent my culture… and it’s something that needs to happen more.”

Tristen reflects on why art is such an important form of storytelling… “Sometimes we can't find the proper words, and having a visualisation can really help with communication. Being able to put it out on paper or to photograph it or make videos or other different forms of art, I think is such an important part

of humanity. It brings us together to be able to feel what that person is feeling without words, without the English tongue or whatever language you’re speaking at the time.”

Art plays a crucial role in healing for Tristen as well. “When you see a painting or other form of art, your spirit connects and you can feel what the artist was trying to say. Having a visual for the people who haven’t yet found their voice yet want to connect… this is such an important part of being human.”

You can see more of Tristen’s art on her Instagram 

Related stories.