School District 43 children learn the fine art of mural painting

Muralist Todd Polich explains the fine art of mural painting to Birchland elementary school students in Port Coquitlam. - DIANE STRANDBERG/THE TRI-CITY NEWS
Muralist Todd Polich explains the fine art of mural painting to Birchland elementary school students in Port Coquitlam.

A beautiful mural depicting the best of Port Coquitlam will be unveiled at Birchland elementary Wednesday, June 4 in a special ceremony marking the school's 40th anniversary.

For the past several weeks, students at the school, along with students at the nearby Minnekhada middle school, have been painting the mural of forest, First Nations, community and city scenes with the help of Todd Polich of the Earth Foundation.

The public art project is a way to bring the community together, said Polich, while also highlighting important elements of the area that are most appreciated by students, parents and other PoCo citizens.

"What I've learned about the community through this is that this is a community that's very integrated around nature," Polich said.



Children painting muralOn Wednesday, June 4, the community is invited to the unveiling of the new mural at Birchland Elementary with a barbecue and installation of a time capsule.

Port Coquitlam, which has supported the project with funding through its Spirit Committee, said the mural, which takes up the entire east wall of the school to the roof, was used to build community pride, create a safe and healthy neighbourhood and leave a legacy of public art.

“This project is another great example of our community coming together to do something positive and at the same time enhancing the cultural vibrancy of Port Coquitlam,” said Mayor Greg Moore. “The mural beautifully captures the history and spirit of our community,” he added in a prepared statement.

In January, students, parents and community members were invited to forums to share their ideas for the mural and the final design was selected by the students. The theme is ‘living in harmony with nature’ and includes images of the community interacting with the environment, such as people fishing in the river, a family cycling on the Traboulay Trail, children planting trees, and clouds depicting the First Nations' exchange of talking sticks, which the school uses as part of its Aboriginal Education program. The undercover area of the mural includes images of nets which the students can use to play soccer, a popular activity at the school on rainy days.


Principal Frank Pearse said he has enjoyed watching the students engaging with Polich and learning the fine elements of mural painting.

On the day the Tri-City News visited, Grade 1 and 2 students were learning how to hold a paint brush and the challenges of painting within the lines. They were instructed by Polich to color in the centre of several yellow flowers.

"What if you mess up?" asked one child.

"You never mess up in the art world," was the sage answer of another Birchland student.

Mural painting

On June 4, the community will see the final product during a barbecue at the school and PoCo Coun. Dean Washington hopes the public will attend.

“It is encouraging to see students and the community working together and taking ownership to create a safe and welcoming neighbourhood,” stated Washington, chair of the city’s Community Safety Committee in a statement. “I encourage everyone to come out to the unveiling to celebrate the hard work the school and community have put into this project.”

Members of the School District 43 board and administration are also expected to attend the event which is a partnership between the city, SD43, the Community Policing Office and Vandal Watch. Funding was provided by ArtStarts, PoCo's Community Cultural Development Advisory Committee and Heritage Canada through the Spirit Committee.

“This work of art will be a great addition to Birchland and the community and will be admired for decades,” stated board chair Melissa Hyndes.

Meanwhile, small items commemorating Birchland, such as photos, are being accepted for the time capsule. Please contact Frank Pearse, the school principal at 604-941-3428 for further information.





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