Why are murals important? This is a question I ask all my participants while on a Mural Tour of the West End.
Most participants agree the murals are beautiful, they instill pride and they deter graffiti.
But, by the end of the tour, participants also realize the murals tell a different story about the West End. Rather a story about people, community, and cultural celebration, and what we as individuals can offer our neighborhood.
For example, take the Zoohky mural painted by Jill Sellers in 2003 which celebrates the life of local hero Walter Zielke Ruesch, otherwise known as Zoohky.
Zoohky was known in the community for his talents, he was a fixer. Zoohky would fix broken items, such as bikes, stereos, toys, and throw them into yards of families in need.
The community recognized Zoohky for his contributions and often donated to him so that he could maintain his lifestyle, as Zoohky had no fixed address.
The West End is Winnipeg’s International Village, which is why cultural celebration is an integral part of the tour, and a major theme in many of the murals.
Historically, many newcomers to Canada started their Canadian journeys in the West End, and can still trace their roots back to this neighbourhood.
Upon entering the West End from Balmoral onto Ellice is where the gateway to the international village is situated. This project was designated to welcome newcomers to the neighbourhood.
On the flags at the gateway and throughout the neighborhood you can find electrical boxes with the words “welcome” in sixteen different languages.
The participants of the tour learn a lot about the West End’s heritage, local heroes, culture, community, commerce, and cuisine.
Another important narrative emerges, whether you are new to the country or have lived here your whole life, that there is something valuable about your own story that can have an impact on your community.
The tours run until the end of August. The cost of the tour is $5 for adults and $2 for youth 12 and under; with flexible start and finish times and complimentary refreshment. To book a tour call 204-954-7900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org