Downtown Summerland got more colourful in 2021 with two new murals carrying messages of diversity and inclusiveness.
In spring, the Okanagan Skaha School District put out a call for artists to create a mural to celebrate the diversity of Summerland.
The idea for the project began in July 2020, after the home of the Lekhi family in Summerland was vandalized with racist graffiti. In addition, windows at the Indo-Canadian family’s home had been broken at the time. Following that incident, many in Summerland asked how they could show their support. This led to the idea of a mural with a unity theme.
The mural was for the east wall of Summerland Middle School and was open to professional and amateur painters of all backgrounds.
The mural was completed in early September. It featured seven faces, with the words “You are important and belong.”
Later in September, another mural was created on the wall at the tennis courts at Summerland Secondary School.
This mural had a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation theme. It featured hundreds of hand prints and the words, “Every child matters,” in English French, Cree and Syilx. The handprints are from students and staff at the school. They are in honour of the hundreds of Indigenous children who died while attending residential schools across Canada.
In May, 2021, the remains of 215 children were found buried at the site of one former residential school near Kamloops. Similar burial sites have also been found at other former residential schools in British Columbia and across Canada.
Emilia Tolnai, one of the Grade 12 students involved in the project, said the purpose was to present a message connected to the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. “We’re not trying to tell someone else’s story,” she said.
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