Over the Canada day weekend, Malinski Painting, a company owned by a Ditidaht member based in the Cowichan Valley, was hard at work volunteering their time to lay down a coat of primer for a mural project organized by the Cowichan Intercultural Society.
For four days, the team donated six to seven hours of their time to have the wall ready for Cowichan mural artist Charlene Johnny. Braiden Malinski, owner of the company, said it was really important for him to be involved in the project.
“If you have a skill or a talent that can help the community, then you should be able to provide that,” said Malinski. “It was a no brainer for me. I didn’t think of money for that, I thought of the opportunity and how I could help.”
“That’s how my staff were too,” he added.
Both Malinski and his employee, Charles Johnson of Ditidaht, said it was an honor to be involved in the mural project that represents truth and reconciliation.
“The importance of truth and reconciliation is pretty big for us,” said Malinski. “We grew up very cultural, growing up in Nitinaht.”
“I felt very happy as I was there,” he added. “It didn’t feel like work. It was exciting to be able to do something that I’m good at and help people.”
Malinski and Johnson, alongside a small team, laid down one coat of primer on the approximately 45 to 50-foot wall, he said.
Malinski started his business roughly four years ago, and in 2023 was voted number one painting company for the Cowichan Valley by CommunityVotes.
“I try to create a space where we can have fun and not take everything so seriously because life is already so serious,” said Malinski.
“Everyday is something fun,” said Johnson, noting that he and Malinski are first cousins.
“I feel very lucky to be able to provide jobs for people that I love, and for family, especially,” said Malinski.
Johnson and Malinski are excited to see the completed mural.
“There’s some really great colors in there; it’s really going to stand out,” said Malinski. “The meaning behind it is beautiful as well.”
Johnny arrived shortly after the primer was laid, and began to stencil the design on the wall. On Tuesday, July 11 she began painting and is aiming to complete the mural for Friday, July 21.
She took her own ideas, alongside concepts advised by Cowichan elders to create a mural design that encapsulates the themes of being truthful with feelings, reconciliation, the past, present, and future, said Johnny.
“I think it is a huge honor,” said Johnny. “I think it's really important for me as an emerging artist to have the opportunity to be advised by our community elders.”
“It’s important and special to me to be able to do this work for the community,” said Johnny. “It’s healing for me as well.”
Malinski said he foresees painting, helping, and donating time in the future for projects like this.
“I think that's something that needs to continue to happen, is helping in those areas when there's such a meaning behind something,” said Malinski.
The mural is located on 221 Jubilee Street in Duncan, B.C.