Tunnel mural rooted in reconciliation


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 22/09/2021 (618 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I want to take a moment to celebrate a project my office funded in conjunction with Take Pride Winnipeg – the creation of a 120-foot-long mural (two-sided) spanning the length of the pedestrian tunnel which connects the YMCA, Glenlawn Collegiate and the St. Vital Library.

This mural, which not only beautifies the tunnel, also pays tribute to the area’s Indigenous history and is a step on the path towards reconciliation.  

Take Pride Winnipeg’s press release said “the artwork features many larger-than-life species and plants found in Manitoba, that are used as medicines by Indigenous healers.”  

Supplied photo St. Vital city councillor Brian Mayes takes in the new mural in the pedestrian tunnel underneath Fermor Avenue which connects the St. Vital Library to the YMCA and Glenlawn Collegiate.

The lead artists were Jeannie Whitebird and Mandy van Leeuwen and the project also involved many young artists from Glenlawn Collegiate, who provided both artwork and poems that now grace the walls of the tunnel.  

The tunnel, built in 1965, has long been an eyesore in St. Vital. Its dilapidated appearance placed it near the top of my “Councillor Regrets List” until 2020, when I was able to get $300,000 in city funding to upgrade the tiles, stairs, and lighting.  

It looked way better after that upgrade, but it needed something more. Tom Ethans of Take Pride (who also delivered the two gold medal murals on the walls of the St. Vital Curling Club earlier in my years on council), took charge.

At the unveiling of the mural, Tom said it “shares a meaningful message that also recognizes the importance of collaborations that build on reconciliation”.  

Many people tell me that they did not know of the tunnel’s existence until this year, but I hope many more people take the time to check out this new St. Vital landmark.

I take the final passage of this column literally from the walls of the tunnel, where the young Glenlawn poet Claire Hill concluded her poem Underground Haven – about the mix of the urban streets above with images of nature below – with these words:

“A brief mixture of earth and concrete/a sentiment of sediment/ Welcome to our ersatz.”

Brian Mayes

Brian Mayes
St. Vital ward report

Brian Mayes is the city councillor for St. Vital.

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