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Scandinavian Cultural Centre unveils new mural

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This article was published 16/09/2021 (334 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A community hub that brings together the descendants of five Nordic countries under one roof now has an exterior that matches that spirit.

Members of the Scandinavian Cultural Centre at 764 Erin St. have unveiled a new mural that stretches the entire north and west sides of the building.

The countries represented in the mural include Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. While these nations may cover a wide swath of land, the people, many of whom now call Winnipeg home, have much in common, said Sonja Lundstrom, the Swedish Cultural Association’s president.  

Photo by Katlyn Streilein Mural artist Charlie Johnston (left) and Sonja Lundstrom are seen at the Scandinavian Cultural Centre on Sept. 8, just days before the official launch.

“To get together with one another is like a family because we have this common heritage and culture. It’s a passion. It’s a feeling,” Lundstrom said. “We wanted to celebrate our ancestors who have come from all these countries, and by coming to Canada have given us such a rich life.”

Lundstrom and the committee members who helped make the mural a reality wanted to share their culture with anyone who passes by.

“The organizations that have supported us have been so wonderful,” she said. “The generosity…it just warms your heart.”

Photo by Katlyn Streilein Johnston painted the entrance of the cultural centre to look like a sauna, an activity that all of the Nordic countries take part in.

Lundstrom’s mother was from Iceland and her father was from Sweden. She has worked as a nurse in both countries and is proud of her people’s resilience, music, cuisine and love of the outdoors.

Winnipeg was once the Swedish capital of Canada, Lundstrom said, with the heart of the community centered around Logan Ave.

Charlie Johnston, the artist behind the mural, worked to illustrate a story of how the five cultures moved through time and space.

Photo by Katlyn Streilein Upgrades to the exterior of the centre included six flags: five representing the Nordic countries and one for Canada.

“I sought to create this narrative about the movement of Scandinavian culture to Canadian soil and the way it intermingles and sings in our culture, but yet remains true to itself,” he said.

The mural begins at the back wall with the five swans—a symbol of the Scandinavian countries. Some other main elements in the mural include a maypole, a sauna, a skier, Hans Christian Andersen and a girl representing the Swedish tradition of Lucia.

“I hope to achieve poetry,” Johnston said. “Poetry is as much about the semantics of the metaphors as it is about the imagery itself; it’s the space between things that is just as important as the things them self.”

The image of a viking — a figure that represents each culture’s journey to Canada — spans the broad side of a building as the mural’s focal point.

“The energy of the viking is in all of us,” Lundstrom said.

Coincidentally, the colour Johnston chose as the mural’s base layer is called Scanda.

“Just a colour can speak to a culture,” he said.

The mural arrived just in time for the cultural centre’s 60th anniversary and the continuation of Manitoba 150 celebrations.

The Scandinavian Cultural Centre will also be releasing an book that commemorates the centre’s history and each of its clubs. The book will pay homage to the centre’s language classes, dance clubs and singing groups, just to name a few.

Those interested in becoming a member of the Scandinavian Cultural Centre can visit www.scandinaviancentre.ca or email scandinaviancc@shawcable.com

Katlyn Streilein

Katlyn Streilein
Community Journalist

Katlyn Streilein is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. She can be reached by phone at 204-697-7132 or by email at katlyn.streilein@canstarnews.com

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