On October 19th, 14-year-old abstract artist on the Autism Spectrum, led an art workshop for our Grade 7 and 8 students which included a simple, but strong message.

Using the maple leaf, he spread his love of art and creativity with a message of acceptance and kindness. Aiden uses art as not only a means for him to communicate his own feelings, but as a way to teach others about reconciliation, empathy, respect, kindness and acceptance. 

“From the leaves to the branches to the stem, right down to the roots of our ancestors. We all share the earth. Never forget the people from the past, our ancestors, and our indigenous communities,” said Aiden.

He further explained how the veins on each leaf reminds him of the roads and arteries that weave through Canada’s towns and cities. Each point on those roads reminds him of a house. “And then inside those houses is a different person. Maybe a family of two here, maybe a different family, maybe a different religion, different age, different gender. And what I think is that . . . each person needs to keep this leaf nice and happy by saying nice things and not being mean to people.”

In each classroom Aiden visits, he tells students about how he sees the maple leaf and talks openly about his life on the spectrum.

Aiden hopes that by participating in his art classes, other young people will not only see the maple leaf as a symbol of inclusivity and mutual respect, but that they come away with a different perspective about people with disabilities or differences than they did before.

“The SMS class was amazing and they were so willing to create their colourful masterpieces with strong movements that demonstrate a school that has a true passion for art,” said Aiden’s mother, Judith. “It seemed as though they all tapped into Aiden’s, and produced the most beautiful works of art that I am sure they must all be proud of.”