The Duncan community gathered on Saturday, July 29 for the unveiling of Cowichan artist Charlene Johnny’s mural in downtown Duncan.
Malinski Painting is a company based in the Cowichan Valley, owned by a Ditidaht member. The company volunteered for four days to lay the primer for the mural at 221 Jubilee Street, and were blanketed for their contribution at the unveiling event.
“It’s nice to see the communities come together,” said Braiden Malinski of Ditidaht.
Johnny spent nearly two weeks stenciling and painting the mural depicting themes of being truthful with feelings, reconciliation, the past, present, and future.
“There’s a lot of meaning behind every single little piece of this mural,” said Malinski.
In consultation with Cowichan elders, Johnny’s mural includes imagery of a spear fisher on the Cowichan River, a canoe family returning to shore where smoke emerges from the big house, four sacred trees, hummingbirds, the thunderbird and orca, said Johnny.
The reconciliation portion of the mural is reflected in orange footprints and the crying sun, she shared.
“There's a toddler, and then an adult and a few paces ahead there's the same people but it's now an adult and an elder,” said Johnny. “That showcases our intergenerational family links and how we take care of each other.”
For Johnny, she said it was an honor to collaborate with and learn from elders and the community.
“To hear what they wanted to see and to bring that to life is an incredible honor,” she added.
“I can’t wait until I’m older and I can point it out to my kids and [say], ‘I helped with that’,” said Malinski. “Definitely looking forward to that part.”