On Sunday, a local artist is going to unveil a mural in tribute of Taten Hammerberg, the 10-year-old boy who passed away in February after battling cancer for three years.
Taten had become inspiration to many in the community as he continued to live life with a smile and do the things he loved.
This included playing hockey with a prosthetic after part of his treatment required his left leg to be amputated.
When local artist Errol Monchka heard about Hammerberg’s passing it really hit home.
“My mom passed away from cancer, my girlfriend’s stepmom just passed away from cancer, my dad’s fighting it now, her dad’s fighting it now – its just a crazy thing. So when I heard of this little boy passing away from it I just thought it was so sad and I decided to do something in honor of him,” said Monchka.
After putting in around 140 hours of painting time and months of planning and research, Monchka recently finished his tribute, an 8 x 4 foot acrylic mural on masonite to be hung in the Soo Pee Wee Arena where Hammerberg used to play.
“The mural is so beautiful and amazing,” said Hammerberg’s mother Marnie Holditch who was given a special preview earlier this week. “It was great of Errol to donate his time to do this, it took him months.”
Monchka prominently placed a Canadian dime on the mural after Holditch told him that since Taten’s passing she keeps finding dimes everywhere believing them to be special messages from him.
“Friends and family are always finding dimes in places around the house like on the floor, in the dryer, or on the school grounds, (etc.). We’re saying it's a sign from Taten, maybe because when he passed away he was 10. Its always a dime, never a quarter or a nickel,” said Holditch. “We’ve probably found hundreds just in our family, and other people close to us, and Taten’s school friends, message us to tell us they find them too.”
Holditch said that dimes are her personal version of ‘pennies from heaven’.
“It always seem we find them at times when something comes up, like an event, and we know that he’s thinking about us. I bet I’ll find one before the mural unveiling,” said Holditch.
The dime story also inspired Monchka to title the the mural ‘I’m Still here.’
He only used three colours of paint - white, red, and purple - and the finished work is mostly purple looking because that was Taten’s favourite color.
Monchka said he likes to hide names in his work and in this one he’s hidden 'Greer' in tribute to Taten’s sister, and the words ‘Toto’ and ‘Parsons’ to honor Tony ‘Toto’ Coccimiglio of the Centre Ice bar at the Soo Pee Wee Arena and Tyler Parsons of Parsons Painting who both donated funds to help purchase paint and materials.
The official mural unveiling will be Sunday Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. at Coccimiglio’s bar in the Soo Pee Wee Arena.
Monchka will be selling prints of his work and any money raised will go to support Taten’s old hockey association.