AJ Louden, right, spray paints part of a mural at the Lawrence Grassi Middle School in Canmore on Thursday, May 5, 2016. Grade 8 students from Lawrence Grassi Middle School and Exshaw School worked together on the mural. The success of the project has led organizers to plan five mural projects throughout the Bow Valley to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday.
ARYN TOOMBS RMO FILE PHOTO
If you haven't heard yet, it is Canada's 150th anniversary of becoming a country and, like any good birthday, there are lots of party favours in the works.
For the Bow Valley, that includes a mural project developed by the Town of Canmore's arts and events department and inspired by Canada's 150th.
Five murals will be developed by lead artists working with youth across the valley – in Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore, Exshaw and Morley – and placed in high profile community locations.
Dawn Saunders Dahl, arts and events coordinator for the Town of Canmore, presented the public art celebration project to town council in January and went through how the process of creating murals with youth will inspire them within the context of Canada's 150th celebrations.
“Inspired by the themes of belonging, inclusion, connection and reconciliation, the Town of Canmore arts and events department, in partnership with the engineering and community social development departments, will celebrate community by creating street art-based murals that are inspired by youth and supported by lead artists,” Saunders Dahl said.
Locations have been selected for the murals – Canmore Rec Centre, Banff High School, Exshaw community hall, Morley Community School, and the rec centre being built in Lake Louise. She said a recent mural project at Lawrence Grassi Middle School that saw Grade 8 students from that school partner with Exshaw students to create a high profile piece of public art was so successful in engaging youth and creating community that a mural project was chosen for the Canada 150 initiative locally.
The project has received funding through the Banff Canmore Community Foundation ($15,000), Canmore Public Art Committee ($5,000 from the art trust) and $30,000 through Heritage Canada's fund for supporting Canada 150 events and projects.
Saunders Dahl said youth in each community will partner with a lead artist to design the murals, which will be based on creative impressions of the valley's and Canada's history. The art committee has issued a call for artists to be part of the project
The process of designing the murals will include information for youth and the community on the culture of mark-making and graffiti-based street art.
“Free walls and murals are effective ways to connect with youth and provides them with an outlet to express their opinions, thoughts, feelings and community perspectives,” she said. “Through belonging, inclusion, connection and reconciliation, the project will positively impact tourism, social prosperity, intergenerational collaboration and the integration of cultural understanding and representation in our community.
“These community murals will emphasize the stories of the people who live and lived here in the Bow Valley. Furthermore, the project will incorporate history by strengthening Indigenous and multi-cultural relationships within the community.”
Saunders Dahl told council the community can also expect to see other initiatives related to Canada's 150 in the community this year. Those include community chalkboards and plans to create a design for the street in front of the Civic Centre to be painted for the Canada Day long weekend.