Boy brightens smiles across Long Point First Nation with painted rocks

Eleven-year-old Eli MacInnis Polson has been spreading positivity across Winneway, Que., with painted rocks he's leaving around the community on his daily walks.

Eli MacInnis Polson, 11, has been leaving painted rocks around his community

Eli MacInnis Polson started painting rocks this week, and left them around the community during his family's daily walk for other children to find. (Submitted Shawna MacInnis, Berlinda Wabegijig)

Be safe. Stay strong. Be happy.

These are some of the messages 11-year-old Eli MacInnis Polson is spreading across Winneway, Que., an Algonquin community in western Quebec where the majority of members of Long Point First Nation live.

Since Tuesday, he's been painting rocks with positive messages and images and leaving them across Winneway on his family's daily walks. 

"I like to paint, it's fun. And I like to go on walks," said MacInnis Polson.

He told CBC News that he's painted things like trees, an alien and houses on the handful of rocks he's collected.

His mother Shawna MacInnis said the activity has kept him busy while schools across the province are closed until at least the end of the month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the rocks Eli MacInnis Polson have included messages like "Winneway stay safe" and "be happy." (Submitted by Shawna MacInnis)

"He's doing something positive for the community," she said.

"We go for walks once or twice a day as a family because the kids can't go play together. Eli thought this was a good idea for when other kids go for a walk, they would have something to do, too."

The family is asking community members who come across the painted rocks to take a selfie with it and share it on Facebook. That's what Berlinda Wabegijig did.

"I took my kids out for a walk to enjoy the beautiful weather. Without knowing, we found his rocks, and it made us smile," she said.

"It's important because with self-isolation and social distancing, it shows another avenue of interacting — that one can bring a smile to someone from afar. And smiling is important during these times, because it reminds us that we are not alone, that others are thinking of us and miss our smiles."

Berlinda Wabegijig's family sit near one of the painted rocks they found while out on a walk. (Submitted by Berlinda Wabegijig )

MacInnis Polson also left some painted stones viewable from the windows of homes where he knows community members are on 14-day self-isolation.

Veronica Polson's family members found some left atop their garbage bin. They've been in self-isolation since returning from vacation.

"He made us happy," she said. 


Ka’nhehsí:io Deer is a Kanien’kehá:ka journalist from Kahnawà:ke, Que. She is currently a reporter with CBC Indigenous covering communities across Quebec.