Skip to main content
Artwork by Emma Hassencalh-Perley

Indigenous artwork installed at City Hall

Artwork by Indigenous artist, Emma Hassencalh-Perley, has been installed in the Customer Service Centre at City Hall as part of the City of Saint John’s Quality of Life initiatives. The artwork is an acrylic painting on canvas, titled “Menahqesk”  Menahqesk, meaning “where the sea takes the land,” is a meeting place between Wolastoqiyik, Mi’kmaw and Peskotomuhkatiyik – three parts of five nations that make up the Wabanaki (The People of the Dawn) Confederacy.

This painting represents these nations through Wabanaki double-curve iconography, reflecting the relationality between them. Each nation within and surrounding Menahqesk are related through Wolastoq river water systems. The Wolastoq River, a bright blue double curve with floral accents, is not just a visual element in this painting but a vital artery system that has sustained our communities with plentiful amounts of salmon for many generations.

The Wolasoqiyik recognize water as a living entity and ancestral being that teaches everyone about relational connectedness. Water grounds us in our revered relationship with the feminine spirit, representing a deep-rooted connection with our mother.

The image includes two salmon in the center of the piece with two mirrored eagles on either side of the circle. These animals represent abundance, protection, and survival. Wolastoqiyik survival is dependent on the health and sustainability of the land. The dotted lines symbolize nineteenth century Wabanaki beaded textiles often gifted to other peoples in reciprocity. The artist seeks to build upon an archive of visual storytelling from her nation through water, Wabanaki feminisms, and the double curve, which symbolizes relationships, community, and non-human beings.

The artwork was chosen through a national call to Indigenous artists in the fall to submit statements of interest. A jury comprised of city staff and stakeholders reviewed the submissions and chose to commission Emma Hassencahl-Perley of Tobique First Nations to create an art installation in City Hall.

The location of the artwork was chosen as it is public facing, and the art would be an anchor for the large wall.

Here to help – For inquiries related to municipal services, contact the City of Saint John Customer Service Centre at (506) 658-4455, email or visit us in person on the Ground Floor of City Hall, 15 Market Square, Monday to Thursday (excluding holidays), 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.