Orcas In the City Mural Project

Orcas In the City Mural Project

The mural took place at Sunrise Soya Foods (797 Powell St.) in the community of Strathcona of Vancouver’s downtown east side.
I spent most of June working in-class with the 80+ children from the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center and teens from Kidsafe, an amazing organization for at risk youth.
Through the month I worked with these amazing young people teaching them about their connection with the environment, what they can do to protect it, and the power that they have in using their talents to make positive change in their lives and the world around them. Then as always we got into a serious amount of art, and Orcas were in the spotlight.

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The kids were incredible and just loved the stories of Orcas and how they are the top predators of the ocean, and yet there has never been one attack on humans in the wild. This phenomenon I related to them was a result of this unspoken bond between us and them as a species.

This of course was all in lead up to painting the mural.
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Through the sweltering month of July we painted 16 Orcas to the backdrop of Vancouver and the North Shore Mountains. It was great for the kids to see how much what they were doing meant to the community. We had people from all walks of life from prostitutes to business people stopping to thank us. At one point in the final days of painting traffic on this busy corridor into downtown Vancouver actually stopped and were honking in approval.

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One of the most touching stories however was early in the painting when a man waiting at the bus stop interrupted me to ask what this was all about. I explained, he nodded, went silent and I went back to working with the kids. A few moments later just as his bus was arriving he approached me, ended the call on his phone and told me lunch would be by shortly. Within minutes subs and drinks were delivered to all of the children with thanks for their hard work. We were all obviously blown away.
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To end off the mural we had an unveiling ceremony where all 80 of the children and youth participants, as well as probably 40 community members attended. We were blessed by First Nations Elders in the opening prayer, and heard remarks from neighborhood business representatives as well as City of Vancouver Councillor Andrea Reimer. We then were entertained by a community Japanese drumming group accompanied by 2 professional drummers from Japan, as well as an amazing interactive dance by the First Nations Community. An amazing way to end an amazing project.

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This is a great story on the project by Bob Nixon of the CBC
Watch Video

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This to me was exactly what Earth Foundation and the Art of Empowerment is about. In my lifetime I am not sure I will ever again have this feeling of enriching the lives of young people and protecting the environment to this degree. I am fully grateful and blessed beyond words.
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