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Vancouver murals by Indigenous artists unveiled for Canada 150+ celebration

Stephanie Ip

The City of Vancouver has unveiled four new completed murals throughout the city that celebrate aboriginal culture and Canada 150+. These images show Sea to Sky, a light box display by Kelly Cannell. [PNG Merlin Archive]

The City of Vancouver has unveiled four new completed murals throughout the city that celebrate aboriginal culture and Canada 150+. These images show Sea to Sky, a light box display by Kelly Cannell. [PNG Merlin Archive]

A series of murals created by Indigenous artists and teams in honour of Vancouver's Canada 150+ celebrations were unveiled this week throughout the city.

Four of the six projects were completed this week and will be featured in a free walking tour offered as part of the Drum is Calling Festival this Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.

The artists for the six projects were selected from 47 applicants by a panel of Indigenous artists and art professionals; 70 per cent of applicants were applying to work with the city for the first time.

"The new public art is part of the City’s ongoing commitment to reconciliation and strengthening of relations between Indigenous communities and Vancouverites," read a statement shared by the city announcing the art works.

Of the four completed projects, two are located at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza, while a third is located inside the Vancouver Public Library's Central Branch plaza, and the four piece is at 600 Beatty St.

Sea to Sky is a light box display designed by Kelly Cannell that represents "all of what Canada has to offer in terms of natural landscapes, abounding wildlife and rich cultural diversity."

Artist Jay Havens created Heartbeat , located on the Queen Elizabeth Theatre's east windows located on Cambie Street. The project responds to the iconic July 1, 1967 speech presented by Chief Dan George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, as well as the 1978 mural titled The Indian in Transition by Woodland artist Daphne Odjig.

Inside the Vancouver Public Library's downtown branch, Ryan McKenna's Time Immemorial banners feature images of Aboriginal people from the Bella Coola, Musqueam, Haida, Squamish and Lillooet nations. The images highlight Aboriginal values and comments on the present day position of Indigenous people living in an urban setting.

The mural located at 600 Beatty Street was created by artists Haisla Collins, Jerry Whitehead, Sharifah Marsden, Mehren Razmpoosh, Richard Shorty and Vanessa Walterson. Spirits of the Realms pays tribute to the Indigenous cultures and stories of First Nations people across the country. The colours present the four directions of the medicine wheel and the three realms of people who live along the Northwest Coast.

Two additional projects — Nekú netsí kezhi by Krystle Coughlin, and Naa Tsmah by Larissa Healy and Shadae Johnson — will be completed this fall.

The free walking tours will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. More information is available at http://canada150plus.ca/drum.

In recent years, the city has committed $1.5 million to boost local art. To date, some 44 new murals and eight light and temporary installations were created in 2016, with 21 new projects approved for the 2017/2018 program.

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