Brenda Dalzell hopes a mural of Canadian rock icon Gord Downie will turn heads and help keep reconciliation top of mind.
The predominantly purple painting, recently completed by Kelowna artist Bobby Vandenhoorn, adorns the back of Dalzell’s Sicamous business, the Bruhn Crossing Urban Market, on Riverside Avenue near the Red Barn.
She said the work was inspired by the musician/activist and his efforts to build cultural understanding and create a path toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples through the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.
For Dalzell, the mural is a way to continue the work of Downie who she said, “in the face in his own mortality, stepped even deeper into trying to make a change for this nation.”
Dalzell’s goal for Bruhn Crossing, located by the Sicamous channel, was to create a mini Granville Island.
This vision included a work of public art, something fun, something that people would want to stand in front of and have their photo taken.
Last year, while taking part in the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur Network’s business recovery and expansion program, she was introduced to Vandenhoorn. From this, Dalzell concluded she wanted a work of art that would tell a story.
“I hadn’t settled on anything and I thought, you know what, Gord Downie, he’s a Canadian legend, the Tragically Hip is well known and he shared a message to Canadians about bridging the gap and continuing the conversations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people,” she said.
Inspired in part by the documentary The Secret Path, released October 2016 – one year before Downie died from an incurable brain cancer, Dalzell had specific requirements for the artwork: it must include Downie in his silver jacket and purple hat with feathers.
“That’s the nod to the Indigenous, it was why he wore that hat. To create awareness,” said Dalzell.
While the main body of the mural is complete, Dalzell said she will be adding a plaque with a song lyric or quote by Downie (not yet chosen), the hashtag for ReconcilliAction and a QR code for the Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund.
She’s also planning on lighting for the mural, to enhance its visibility from the Bruhn Bridge, giving people another reason to make a stop in Sicamous.
“If it becomes an attractant and it brings people in to my community as well, then I like that,” she said.
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