A unique art project aims to bring healing and share First Nations heritage
The colours are spectacular.
Shades of blue and green are the most popular, but hold a piece of labradorite and look for traces of yellow, red, and gold. Iridescent and shimmering, the gemstone is said to reflect the aurora borealis trapped within.
According to an Inuit legend described on the Mindful Maple Leaf website, the appearance of the northern lights in the night sky frightened a mighty shaman.
Believing they were evil spirits, he was determined to defeat them. After a long struggle, he grabbed some, and using his powerful magic, he cast them into the stone, capturing the beauty of the aurora borealis for eternity. It is said that if you whistle at the northern lights, the evil spirits will return. Some Inuit believe that true labradorite holds the powers of the shaman that captured it, reminding them that their culture is strong and resilient.
Some people believe labradorite harbours healing properties, which makes it fitting that a new project, The Mindful Maple Leaf, supports Residential School Survivors through the Legacy of Hope Foundation. Each Mindful Maple Leaf is a uniquely carved labradorite stone produced at the Great Caribou Studio, a Nunatsiavut-based workshop that adheres to the Indigenous principles of artists and craftspeople.
“I’m not sure where I would be today if we didn’t have this project,” says Janice Ruddock, co-founder of SimpliCanada, the ecommerce site that’s partnering on the project. “It’s definitely been a saving grace.”
Great Caribou Studio represents and promotes Indigenous artists from Nunatsiavut and NunatuKavut through the medium of labradorite stone. Ruddock said The Mindful Maple Leaf Project is more than like-minded organizations working towards a common goal.
Ruddock and Helen Dawe-Webb have been in business for more than 20 years.
In 2020, they took a step back from corporate work. “We wanted to do something that resonated with us,” Ruddock explains. “Being in the moment is one of the things that always helps me through a challenging time … We wanted to immerse ourselves in a project that reminds us to be mindful, to stay in the moment, and be grateful for what we have. When you hold a Mindful Maple Leaf stone in your hand it reminds you to stay grounded.”
Labradorite is the provincial mineral of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Every Mindful Maple Leaf stone is unique and pocket-sized, coming in a hand-sewn pouch that evokes Labrador’s flag.
The project supports and promotes Indigenous artists, educating Canadians about history and culture. “Canada means a lot to us,” Ruddock said. “Residential school survivors will always be the backbone of the Legacy of Hope Foundation. We are starting from a place of mindfulness and moving forward slowly and respectfully.”