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Many cultures, one mural

Wayfinders project represents diversity of neighbourhood

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Christian Mariano, 18, colours in the fine details of a totem pole as part of a mural going up on the side of the 7-Eleven at Mountain Avenue and McPhillips Street on July 4.

MATT PREPROST Enlarge Image

Christian Mariano, 18, colours in the fine details of a totem pole as part of a mural going up on the side of the 7-Eleven at Mountain Avenue and McPhillips Street on July 4. Photo Store

A little dose of multiculturalism is coming to a corner store near you.

Some 25 students from the Wayfinders program have begun work on a new mural featured on the side of the neighbourhood 7-Eleven at Mountain Avenue and McPhillips Street. The mural is a multicultural medley, from an eagle-headed totem pole to the grand Taj Mahal to the cherry blossom trees of Asia and the serene waters of Cambodia.

"There are so many ethnicities in this part of the city, we wanted to do something that represented an international theme," said artist Rachel O’Connor, who designed the mural and is guiding students through the painting process.

"It represents the community well."

For O’Connor, who lives in River Heights, it’s her third mural in the city, and the second one being done with the Wayfinders program. Last year, O’Connor and students completed a mural depicting inspirational figures throughout history, including first Canadian Prime Minister John A. Macdonald, on the side of the 7-Eleven at Jefferson Avenue and Sheppard Street in The Maples.

That mural was such a positive experience, O’Connor said, Wayfinders invited her back to work on another.

"It gives (students) a chance to put their mark on the community," O’Connor said.

Wayfinders provides high school students in the Seven Oaks School Division with support to help them graduate high school and make the transition to post-secondary education or other training.

Arunesh Sharma, a Garden City-area student, said the mural is just one of the many summer projects he’ll have a hand in as a student/staff member hired by Wayfinders for the season.

"The last time I painted was probably in middle school," joked Sharma, 17.

"I’m pretty stoked I’m not ruining anything."

Beyond brushing up on his painting skills and putting his mark on the community, Sharma said he’s learning about leadership and improving his communication skills by participating in public projects like the mural.

"I’m really learning how to get involved and get younger kids involved," he said.

"It’s motivational. Everyone drives by here all the time. I hope it brings a lot of people together."

The mural is being sponsored by Take Pride Winnipeg. It will be complete on July 19, O’Connor said.


matt.preprost@canstarnews.com

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