Artist from Akwesasne adorns Google Canada home page with ribbon-themed tableau

Shaikara David got to celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day in a novel way.

On Friday morning, the 28-year-old Indigenous illustrator loaded her Google Search window and saw her own work reflected back at her.

The tech giant had commissioned David to create a "Doodle" — the art adorning its search bar — for its Canadian home page, as a way of marking the country's national day recognizing the contributions of Indigenous peoples.

"As someone who has struggled with what is my cultural identity and stuff like that, it feels really special and validating to have it on [that day]," David told CBC.

David is based in Ottawa but grew up in Akwesasne Mohawk Territory and the neighbouring city of Cornwall, Ont.

A self-acknowledged "computer kid" who dug Japanese anime and manga, she studied animation and illustration at Algonquin College in Ottawa.

David went on to create artwork for projects featured on Netflix and Disney+, having graduated at a time when several animation studios in Ottawa were doing work for the big streaming services, she said.

Most often, she created the paintings that would serve as backgrounds for the animated shows' characters.

Shaikara David
David has previously created artwork for shows streaming on Netflix and Disney+. She grew up loving manga. (Submitted by Shaikara David)

Visual nod to grandmother

Google approached David about the Doodle in May.

Her illustration features two women amid the blue-and-purple lakeside backdrop, with mountains in the distance and a glowing moon representing the second "o" in "Google."

The women's flowing ribbons are woven into the environment.

"I was [partly] inspired by many Indigenous stories of how the ribbon clothing connects us to the land, our culture and to Grandmother Moon," she said in a Google Q&A accompanying the release of her Friday Doodle.

Sweetgrass pokes through the image's bottom right frame — a nod to David's own grandmother, who was a sweetgrass basket weaver.

"I have a little tiny one with me that I made with her a long time ago, and it always inspires me and smells so comforting," David told CBC.

David said the response to her Doodle from friends, family and even people she doesn't know has been "overwhelming" — and she's already received other interesting offers, including a project calling for illustrations of Indigenous land-based teachings.

"I feel complete," she said.