An artist-at-work sign sits on the sidewalk outside the Kermode Friendship Centre in downtown Terrace, B.C.
It’s a way to signal that work on a large mural about missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is getting underway.
“We talked about doing just one wall, then we got together and said, ‘No, let’s paint the whole building’, and when people walk by, they need to say, ‘Wow’,” said Dave Gordon, president of the Skeena Salmon Arts Festival Society.
“They need to come in, and they need to have a look at it, and that will foster conversations with a variety of people about what it’s about and bring the issue forward.”
The mural is being painted by a collective of artists known as Raven-Tacuara, to raise awareness about the difficult subject of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (mmiwg).
The groups obtained funding from Heritage Canada and the BC Arts Council to bring the project to life.
Amanda Hugon from the Sto:lo Nation is a member of the Collective. She hopes the mural leads to conversations about the staggering rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
“It’s nice to share that and show that through the artwork,” she said. “To bring the awareness that we’re all watching out for one another.”
The mural has a large cedar weave pattern that Hugan said symbolizes a connection to Mother Nature, community and culture.
Travis Hebert, a Cree-Métis artist who grew up in Prince George, joined the collective in 2018 when it started painting murals around the Northwest.
“That was my first time doing a big mural back in 2018 in Terrace,” he said. “Here we are on our sixth mural as a collective, and it’s been amazing.”
The group’s work touches on topics it wants to highlight.
It has received positive feedback on other murals it has created around the city.
Facundo Gastiazoro is originally from Argentina and has been creating art his whole life.
He is an artist in the collective, which also brings in other artists for larger projects.
Gastiazoro believes teamwork is responsible for the success of Raven-Tacuara.
“In terms of design, colour, we do it together or incorporate individual pieces to the murals,” he said.
Murals by Raven-Tacuara and other local artists decorate the outside of businesses around Terrace, a city 691 km north of Vancouver.
Gastiazoro hopes their art will have people admiring their beauty and maybe finding a message.
“It’s to take the grey out of life,” he said, “to have a moment of awe. At least one moment of awe that’s enough for me.”
Funding is in place to complete five other murals with a variety of artists before the summer ends in an arrangement with the Terrace Downtown Improvement Society.
He wants to keep working with the artists until every wall is painted.
“We need reasons for people to come into our downtown, and murals and arts are a great way to do it,” he said.
“All of this art celebrates a sense of place in the Northwest, our culture; so if you’re not from here, you can get a feel for who we are.”