Join SP intern Megan and her neighbor Lance on a walking tour of Downtown Eastside Vancouver as they reflect on the role that murals play in the life of their community.
Lance is a local resident and has played a creative and organizing role in local art, including murals. The conception of each mural begins with the community through workshops that identify what best represents the Downtown Eastside (DTES) community. The Nest community mural depicts birds of all different types flocking to a single nest surrounded by cherry blossoms.
Lance: It’s amazing to see local people on the street just pick up a brush and want to contribute something, that makes a big difference. When the mural is not entirely about the artist it’s about being a part of the community. It means something to connect with other people, and that connection makes a difference.
Megan: What does the Nest community mural represent to you?
Lance: We wanted the mural to represent the community. What the workshop came up with was birds flocking to a nest. The Nest community mural is about community; a nest envelops everyone, welcomes diversity, and celebrates inclusiveness. We may come from near or far, but we all come from somewhere. Even though we are all diverse, we are an inclusive community.
Megan: For me, the mural is a message of hope and sanctuary. You could imagine that each of our neighbors are represented by the diversity of birds each finding home together
The Resilience mural is located at 121 Heatley Avenue, and it speaks to the DTES neighborhood. The community experiences adversity over and over again, and yet adversity builds strength and resilience in the lives of the community.
Lance: Resilience usually means enduring something over time. Those undertaking and experiencing adversity are often people in poverty. Does it require resilience or patience? Sometimes it takes survival. Sometimes the only way we get through is survival.
Megan: Often what we find is that resilience is a necessity of survival for our neighbors. Resilience may be the result of everything we have lived through, but I hope that resilience is not the end.
The Thunderbird mural by Cree artist Jerry Whitehead is located on West Hastings Street, towering above the Hastings Urban Farm between Abbott and Carrall. The mural reads, "There’s no one to care if you do not care, Bud Osborn 1947-2014."
Megan: This painting is a call to action that residents of Vancouver painted on one of the largest buildings. It is hard to avoid when driving into the DTES. This mural replaced a mural painted as an act of protest and as a cry for more affordable housing in the area. The land in front of the mural was one of the largest tent cities in the area. The land will soon be developed, and the neighborhood is desperately calling for the land to be used for welfare rate housing.