This artwork

Planned Craigflower mural honours First Nations history

Drivers crossing the new Craigflower Bridge could have a beautiful mural welcoming them into Saanich

Drivers crossing the new Craigflower Bridge could have a beautiful mural welcoming them into Saanich, thanks to the students and staff at Craigflower elementary.

The school was expected to go before Saanich council on Monday to seek approval to paint a large First Nations mural on the side of their school, visible from Admirals Road.

“There are many ways to show our depth of love and connection with the aboriginal people presently and past, so it’s a way to say to this community, ‘Welcome. Welcome, community,’” said principal Lynne Moorhouse.

“It’s about the whole issue of healing and honouring. We’d like to acknowledge and thank the Coast Salish people and the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations people for allowing us to work, play and learn on this land.”

The mural, co-designed by artists Butch Dick (Songhees) and Darlene Gait (Esquimalt), is slated to be painted onto a 24-foot by eight-foot plywood panel, then affixed to the south-facing wall.

“Every child in the school will paint on it, and every community member will be able to come paint on it,” Moorhouse said.

The mural depicts Coast Salish First Nations elders and a welcome figure greeting people to the land. The school’s outer walls will also be painted as sunrise and sunset backdrops.

Moorhouse says the school’s population is more than 92 per cent aboriginal, and it is located on a site on which First Nations people lived as long as 2,800 years ago.

Two sets of human remains were found on the school property in February during pre-construction of the new bridge.

“In the unsettling of those remains, there’s been an auspicious feeling (at the school) of connectedness to the elders,” Moorhouse said.

The mural requires council support because any public art that doesn’t have approval from Saanich is deemed graffiti, under the municipality’s unsightly premises bylaw.

Moorhouse says artist Morgan Macauley is “chomping at the bit” to get working on the mural. The school’s goal is to have the artwork complete by June 21, National Aboriginal Day.

kslavin@saanichnews.com