Glenbrook Middle’s Magical Mural
If you haven’t been to École Glenbrook Middle lately, we recommend looking an opportunity to go and check out the new and exciting mural that’s been added this year. The mural interpretation of the newly updated logo is called Xʷəsq̓eq̓íp (which is a Halkomelem word that means “Unity”). And it not only adds touches of creativity and colour to the building, but it also a reflection of the effort to Indigenizing the space, as the artwork combines colours, symbols, and motifs from different First Nations from across Canada.
The new mural creation has been lead by Angela Jurgensen, the art teacher at Glenbrook Middle. With insight and help from multiple different Indigenous students at the school, it’s an attempt to be visual representation of the land acknowledgement used to start off each day.
Indigenous guidance throughout
The process of designing this mural started months and months in advance, with lots of effort and attention from Indigenous community members.
In June of 2021, Derek Hall, an Indigenous student at EGMS, was asked to create a new school logo based on his style of art and creation. Derek has always been passionate about sharing his culture, and art is one of his many channels for doing so. His new design pulled inspiration from his Cree background and was received incredibly well. So well, the design was launched on school t-shirts that filled the hallways through the 2021-22 school year.
When Angela decided to create the mural, she knew to start with Derek’s design. But to get more guidance and keep Indigenous insight throughout, she invited Jerry White – a Vancouver-based Cree painter – to help turn the design into a mural. Jerry spent a whole day at EGMS, working with students and Mrs. Jurgensen. He made recommendations on colours, design blocking and helped advise on the process of engaging students in the creation.
And he wasn’t the only one adding thoughts and guidance: throughout the process Chief Rhonda Larrabee of the Qayqayt First Nation and Connie Swan, the District Vice-Principal for Indigenous Education, Indigenous Support Workers and others were consulted throughout.
Everyone gets involved.
It was important – as a representation of the community – that every student saw themselves reflected in the mural. Throughout the process, Mrs. J asked herself “How do I get a design that gives the kids ownership?” The solution was in the hands-on creation. Almost all 6th and 7th grade students got to add a stencil of something they were passionate about to the mural … from stencils that spoke to their passions, daily activities or favourite video game characters, students were invited to come and paint on the symbol that spoke to them.
The last core aspect was the black lines.
The black lines define and hold all the details. They are the lines that ground the colours and images, bringing the whole piece together as they encapsulate the mural. Given the importance of these structural lines, Mrs. Jurgensen knew “the black lines couldn’t just be painted by anybody.” So, each Indigenous identifying student was individually asked to partake in painting these final pieces, tying them all together.
And of course, Derek, now having moved on to the art rooms of NWSS, spent his last few days of middle school participating in the final piece that now fills the main stairwell by the school’s office.
Together, this creation has come alive in a way that allows them to see themselves in the art. The true story of unity. Students will stop full of excitement, point to a symbol and shout “Look! That one’s mine!”
The magic of art.
To Mrs. Jurgensen, art is a little bit magical. There is something special about the way art can brighten rooms and makes people feel. After seeing the completed mural, it’s clear that when kids get to be creative in a safe space, magic truly does happen!