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Emily Gardner was born and raised in Regina, Saskatchewan, with much of her young life being spent in foster care.

"One of the problems that I saw, I tried to just stick to myself, more than anything and that was how I coped, but a lot of the girls were treated like criminals, even though they were just little children, and I think this is where things start to become derailed for some people," said Gardner.

She eventually ended up in the care of her grandmother, before moving to New Zealand to complete a masters' degree.

tinafontainemural2Emily Gardner paints Tina Fontaine in New Zealand school

One of her most recent murals is of 15 year old Tina Fontaine, who's body was pulled from the Red River in August of 2014.

She says she was inspired to create the piece because it reminded her of the kids she met and her own experiences in foster care.

"They kept showing these pictures of her looking over sexualized, very skinny, she just didn't look healthy," explained Gardner. "And I was just wondering if that was part of a broader social narrative, the kind of thing that I see happen often in Canada when these girls like Tina, or any of the girls I was in Gemma House with, start to slip through the cracks."

She says she wanted to change that view.

"I kept coming across the photos of her as a little girl, as the girl that she was, even when she went off to Winnipeg a few weeks before she passed. I wanted to spend some time really contemplating that image of her, and just do what I could do to put out more of a reminder that she was a child," said Gardner.

Although people in Auckland may not recognize Fontaine, Gardner says she hopes many will seek out the meaning of the mural after seeing it.

Since completing the mural, the administration at the primary school that painting is located in, have decided to do more around First Nations issues in New Zealand.

It has also sparked numerous discussions surrounding Tina Fontaine and the current situation in Canada.