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A giant mural is being painted next to Coquitlam city hall

The Raven–Tacuara Collaborative includes an artist whose grandmother is a member of the Kwikwetlem First Nation.

They call it a "dream" wall.

That 3,400 sq. ft. white space next to Spirit Square, across from Coquitlam city hall, is the perfect canvas for a mural, the four members of the Raven–Tacuara Collaborative said.

"It has the perfect texture," Travis Hebert told the Tri-City News yesterday (Aug. 17) during a break.

"It's clean and smooth. There are no windows and it's in shady spot, which is good for the summer."

Until Aug. 28, the foursome will be coating the wall with Benjamin Moore paints to create a public art work that will be seen by thousands of vehicle, rail and foot commuters daily.

Their giant piece, which has yet to be titled, will feature cool tones of green to emulate nature, as well as a central Indigenous element in a paint colour called "Crushed Berries."

Chilliwack-born artist Manda Hugon said the name surprised her as it reminded her of picking berries as a child with her grandmother, who is a member of the kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) First Nation.

The mural, which will highlight the theme of belonging and diversity to tie in with the city’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) priority, shows the circle of life with its ripple effects passing from plants to pollinators to humans.

"The smallest things in nature are sometimes the most important," Hebert said.

"It speaks about the connection people have with plants and creatures," Hugon added. "After all, there's salmon DNA in all of us."

The Coquitlam mural is the 10th for the Raven–Tacuara Collaborative, which hails from Terrace and Smithers, and also includes Stephanie Anderson and Argentina-born artist Facundo Gastiazoro.

Started in 2018 while they worked on the Rays of Life mural as part of the Skeena Salmon Arts Fest, the four have Indigenous roots and have each created their own public art projects.

In 2021, the collective and the Kermode Friendship Society partnered to design and paint a mural to raise awareness of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) in Canada.

And after Coquitlam, they'll be heading to Burns Lake to brighten up the side of a housing project.

The City Centre wall was one of four locations picked by the city as part of its 2023 Mural Program, a component of the $1-million Streetscape Enhancement Program that’s designed to see busy Coquitlam neighbourhoods beautified with art, lights and furniture over the next two years.

Currently, a mural is being painted by students at Place des Arts at the Maillardville hub's Renaissance building, and a Kwikwetlem First Nation group is now designing an Indigenous element for the new Town Centre Park Community Centre (formerly known as the Innovation Centre).

Plans are still being finalized for murals or public artworks in Burquitlam, Lower Lougheed and Austin Heights for 2024.