A 30-year-old mural at Grandin LRT Station is getting attention after a petition was created to have it removed.
In the mural is a white bishop and nun removing an Indigenous baby from their family. Behind them, is a residential school.
The mural was originally created in 1989 to mark the historical contributions of Alberta’s francophone community, particularly Bishop Vital Grandin.
The creator of the petition Jade Balona is white. Her husband and kids are Indigenous. She said it shocked her to see this mural displayed so publicly.
“It seems like it’s glorifying the residential school system,” Balona said.
More than 2,000 people had signed the petition as of Saturday afternoon.
“After speaking to my Indigenous friends and family, I can speak from their experience how it affects them… Even people that have commented on the petition, I have been reading comments on why they have been signing it, and it makes so much sense,” Balona said.
“People are saying it’s a painful reminder every time they walk by, maybe some of these people were directly affected by that time, maybe their parents were and that trickles down.
“It’s very gut-wrenching,” Balona said.
This isn’t the first time concerns have been raised. In 2011, the city along with other organizations formed a working group to address the issue. Three years later the original artist added two panels to her work, and along with that addition came a new mural by now city councillor, author and artist Aaron Paquette, aiming to paint a portrait of hope and healing.
Paquette said in a tweet Friday he would like to Grandin Station renamed Reconciliation Station to further explain the artwork.
“The two murals together create a holistic narrative, that sort of balances the two points of view and creates a story for Edmonton that acknowledges the presence of Indigenous people in this area for thousands of years,” Edmonton Arts Council executive director Sanjay Shahani said.
“The artworks cannot be considered in isolation, they have to be considered as one art work,” she said.
“I think one of the things the Edmonton Arts Council strongly supports and encourages is dialogue,” Shahani said.