In Search of…LIFE

“Lake and Shore: Two Worlds Converging” can be found in the 30th Street Underpass, and was painted by muralists Philip Cote and Nick Sweetman. This vibrant mural depicts diverse local wildlife alongside stark black elements representing clan animals and spirits from Anishinaabe tradition and cosmology. They are set against a background that seems of another world. Fusing Western and Indigenous styles and understandings, this mural is a harmonious representation of cultural exchange.

Lake and Shore:
Two Worlds Converging

Phillip Cote and Nick Sweetman
Mural | 2018
Thirtieth St & Elder Ave | Etobicoke

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Artist Statment (from Nick Sweetman)

This mural, “Lake and Shore: Two Worlds Converging” depicts several species that depend on the shoreline as part of their habitat. The lakeshore is the threshold where terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems meet and many living things depend on this liminal space, from fish and insects to birds and mammals.

I wanted to pay respect to the land and its non-human inhabitants, giving viewers a colourful and dynamic encounter with some of these creatures so they can appreciate the lakeshore and the home it provides, and be inspired to protect and care for it. Because of the relationship between Indigenous cultures and the land, I thought it important to include an indigenous voice in this project, which is why I wanted to collaborate with Philip, whose characters and symbols in black contrast against my colourful fades and realistic animal forms, weaving a second narrative throughout the mural. Just as the lakeshore is a meeting between the worlds of earth and water, so too this mural represents a converging between settler and Indigenous narratives.

In Search Of… Prompts

How many of the animals in this mural have you seen in recent years? Why do you think that is?

There are black symbols and designs throughout the mural. What do you think these represent?

Have you noticed the smoke wafting and connecting all of the elements in the mural? What kind of smoke do you think it is? What could this smoke represent?

What would you title this mural, and why?

In Search of… Conversation

Listen to mural artists Philip Cote and Nick Sweetman as they discuss their artistic process and the importance of showcasing Indigenous voices. Find out what message they want us to take away from their mural, and what it can show us about Indigenous-settler relationships and different ways of knowing.

Watch. Listen. Read.

video and audio coming soon...

Video Transcript coming soon…

In conversation with

Philip Cote, Indigenous Artist

Anishinaabe-izhini-kaaz-o-win Nodj-mowin-Miskogayaashk Gichi-manidoo-anishinaabe indoodem Mishu-pishu niin Anishinaabe, Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi, Ojibway, Algonquin Min-a-waa Mohawk. Philip Cote, MFA, Moose Deer Point First Nation, is a Young Spiritual Elder, Indigenous artist, activist, educator, historian, and Ancestral Knowledge Keeper. He is engaged in creating opportunities for artmaking and teaching methodologies through Indigenous symbolism, traditional ceremonies, history, oral stories, and land-based pedagogy. Citing all of his ancestry, he is Shawnee, Lakota, Potawatomi, Ojibway, Algonquin, and Mohawk. Philip is the seventh generation great-grandson of Shawnee Warrior and Leader Tecumseh, and his ancestor Amelia Chechok is the granddaughter of Chechok who was the first signer of the Toronto Purchase of 1805.

Nick Sweetman, Multidisciplinary Artist

Nick Sweetman is a multidisciplinary artist from Toronto. He completed his MFA in 2014 from OCAD University in the Interdisciplinary Art, Media & Design program and went on to receive a certificate from the Mural Routes Leadership Training in Mural-Making program the same year. Since then he has been working in public space on mural projects, often in collaboration with other artists, and in partnership with various non-profit organizations (David Suzuki Foundation, The STEPS Initiative) as well as the City of Toronto.

He has successfully managed large-scale projects both independently and as a lead artist over a team of volunteers, from children up to adults. He has dedicated many of his projects to raising awareness and using public art to talk about social and environmental issues in Toronto and sometimes has the opportunity to travel and paint abroad, most recently to Kelowna BC where he is painting a mural for Uptown Festival.

Thank you to our funders and partners

In Search Of… received grant funding as a part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021–2022, a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it. Working closely with artists and Toronto’s arts institutions, ArtworxTO will deliver major public art projects and commissions, citywide, from fall 2021 to fall 2022. Supporting local artists and new artworks that reflect Toronto’s diversity, ArtworxTO is creating more opportunities for citizens to engage with art in their everyday lives. This September, the City of Toronto invites the public to discover creativity and community–everywhere. Visit for full details.

In Search Of… is a Signature Project of Cultural Hotspot produced in partnership with the City of Toronto.