By Grace Oborne
“We’re in this together. We share the same future,” is the message that artist Stacey Kinder painted along the bottom of her mural that is displayed on the wall of Baked & Battered in Haliburton.
Last summer, Leora Berman, founder of The Land Between and Turtle Guardians, had asked the owners of Baked & Battered, Colby Marcellus and Craig Gordon, if one of her staff could paint a mural on their building.
The Land Between “works to achieve bioregionalism; a sense of place and active broad stewardship that is rooted in the understanding that our wellbeing comes from the land,” as noted on the website. Turtle Guardians is a program of The Land Between that works to save the lives of turtles and their habitats.
“Turtle Guardians evolved because we needed to save turtles, and we wanted to recruit kids and communities to saving turtles. We wanted to make it a public effort to save turtles,” expressed Leora.
Stacey had been working for The Land Between and felt the mural was a perfect way to spread awareness about turtle mortality.
“As an ecologist, I study the relationships between plants, animals and their physical surroundings,” she said. “This mural was an opportunity to hold conversations about the key role snappers play in wetlands, and reverse the stigma against them.”
Kinder has been painting murals for around seven years and has work featured in several communities across southern Ontario, most of them in Toronto. Her work stems from her connection with nature and the ecosystem.
“I have spent a lifetime growing a deep connection with the unique lakes and forests here, that have undoubtedly shaped my soul,” she noted.
Kinder painted the mural alone and feels very passionately about the message that it sends.
“My murals celebrate local ecosystems and wildlife that co-habits with people. Murals bring communities together. We live together amongst an incredibly unique and diverse ecosystem, along with every plant and animal… hence the quote on the mural; ‘We’re in this together. We share the same future,’” she said.
The owners of Baked & Battered, Marcellus and Gordon, were more than happy to offer their wall to Stacey and her work.
“I will say that from our perspective, for Craig and I, it was an easy thing for us and an exciting thing for us to be able to do for this issue,” noted Marcellus.
The mural, which took around three weeks to complete, was painted on Baked & Battered because of its central location. There are numerous people who walk by the restaurant daily, and many have stopped to notice and compliment the mural.
“We see a lot of folks coming and taking pictures of it or taking selfies in front of it. This tells us that it is working, right. It tells us that people are noticing. It has attracted a lot of attention” mentioned Colby.
“All of the messages Turtle Guardians and The Land Between has, was important to get out through this mural. Baked & Battered was a perfect location because of the high visibility and high traffic for people who live in the county,” said Leora.
Jeremiah is Turtle Guardians’ ambassador for the turtles, and is pictured in the mural. Based on her size, Jeremiah is around 70 years old. A couple years ago, she was hit by a car. As a result, her carapace was crushed and part of her beak is cracked. Due to the fact that her carapace was crushed, she is unable to use her back legs. She has been in rehab with Berman and Turtle Guardians for five years and uses a skateboard to get around.
Shortly after being rescued, Berman adopted Jeremiah and put her into physiotherapy.
“Jeremiah was taken to the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and they called us and asked if we wanted to adopt her because she can’t walk or swim,” Berman said. “Turtles have points of origin, from their territory, so they can’t just go anywhere. This means they have to be returned to their territory.”
Both Berman and Kinder believe that Jeremiah is the best fit for the mural because of what she represents.
“Jeremiah is a really beautiful soul. She communicates all the amazing things about turtles, and the threat to turtles as well,” said Berman.
“Jeremiah is an example of our need to find better ways to co-exist with wildlife,” said Kinder.
The response from the community has been overwhelming.
“As I painted, community members shared their snapper stories and were eager to know more about them. I am so thankful for the opportunity to connect with community members and create something unifying,” noted Stacey.
In the upcoming months, there are plans for a plaque to be installed next to the mural that will provide more information and explain its purpose.
“We want to put a plaque next to the mural to tell Jeremiah’s story. We’ll probably design that and put that out later this fall,” explained Leora.
For more information about The Land Between and Turtle Guardians, visit www.thelandbetween.ca/ and www.turtleguardians.com/.