With a killer whale, long house, canoe and the Stawamus Chief towering in the background, the new mural at Sea to Sky Learning Connections is unmistakably Squamish.
Students in the Learning Expeditions program collaborated at every step of the process to design the large mural that was recently painted in the lobby.
They started off by learning about monuments – which are statues, buildings or other structures built to commemorate a famous or notable person or event – and creating their own. Some students, for example, built a small replica of a canoe.
Then, the idea came about to combine all the monuments into a mural.
“The mural is a gift from them to the whole school. They also learned more about working together,” said Charlene Williams, cultural and language worker for the Squamish Nation education department, adding that each student had a different role, from fundraising for the mural to helping create the design. One of the lessons taught at Cultural Journeys, which runs from kindergarten to Grade 6, and Learning Expeditions, which is for students in Grades 7 to 12, is the importance of contributing to the community.
The students also created individual pieces of art to represent the mural, which they named “Our Surroundings,” that will be auctioned off to their parents to help fundraise. A movie night, bake sale and a GoFundMe page have also helped raise money.
The mural artist, Mehran Razmpoosh, or “Razz” as he is commonly known, also donated a few prints.
Williams contacted Razz to paint the mural because, although he is not of Squamish Nation ancestry, he has been part of their community for around 28 years and incorporates a lot of First Nation stories into his artwork. Razz acted as a mentor to the students and worked with them on the project.
“It’s important to connect our school to the wider community for inspiration and to help build relationships,” said Williams.
Razz has worked on other art projects with the Squamish Nation, and has painted local murals before, such as the one outside the Watershed Grill in Brackendale.
“I appreciate the opportunity that came from the Squamish Nation, and to paint their cultural scenes,” he said. “It’s great to get the little ones inspired. Art is a healing medicine for kids, and I’m glad to be showing it to them.”