Salvation Army Yakka Centre unveils creative, inclusive mural
Sean Chase/Daily Observer The Salvation Army Yakka Youth Centre invited the community to share in the unveiling of its mural project last Friday. The wall-sized mural overlooks the centre's interior from its Pembroke Street West entrance. The mural was designed and painted by the youth who worked with the Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio.
The Salvation Army Yakka Youth Centre invited the community to share in the unveiling of its mural project.
During an open house last Friday night, dignitaries joined in as a large sheet was dropped revealing the wall-sized mural at the entrance to the centre located on Pembroke Street West. The mural represents not only the creativity of the kids from the centre but encourages inclusion.
Megan Spencer, an artist with the Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio, explained during a brief unveiling ceremony that she consulted with the youth in order to develop concepts for the mural. She said the ideas that kept coming up were diversity, embracing dichotomies and freedom.
“They felt free here. They felt free to be who they were and they felt love here,” said Spencer. “That was a key piece of this mural.”
In the brightly colourful mural, the main figure is gender neutral to represent the diverse identities of the youth who come to the centre. They chose village scenes to represent community, as well as depictions of water, trees, the sun and the moon to honour our connections to the earth. Ultimately, Spencer said they wanted to create a mural that offered hope and something that illustrated the untapped resource that is the community's young people.
“We agreed to all the concepts along the way and we painted it together and we put it up together,” Spencer added. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked with all these beautiful young people.”
In close collaboration with youth co-ordinator Amanda Wilson, Spencer worked with her teams of painters and artists, all members of the centre, to bring their vision to fruition. Those artists included Mayson Tait, Olivia Lauzon, Jasmine Rockwell, Kat Belaire, Bailey Davidson, Ana Black, Abbi Tremblay and Gemini Bolger. Mayor Mike LeMay said he was proud of the youth for contributing such a last legacy to the Salvation Army centre.
“I have watched this youth group grow over the past two years and it's been tremendous,” said LeMay. “This is a facility that is important to the community. It is a safe place for the kids to come and learn with so many programs available.”
The project was supported by community partners such as Joes Family Pizzeria, The Home Depot, Ottawa Valley Creative Arts Open Studio and the Renfrew County United Way.
“Our children are a mirror of how we raise them. They are our future,” said United Way executive director Pat Lafreniere. “This is an overwhelming project but it shows that if you stick with something then good things will come to those who wait.”