Mural highlights our rich local heritage

Patrick Nadjiwon

First Nations educator Patrick Nadjiwon opened the celebration of the new Port Union-Rouge Park mural with a smudging ceremony to purify and remove negative energy from the space

This summer Centennial residents watched the evolution of a stunning new landmark in our neighbourhood. On September 8 the Port Union-Rouge Park mural was officially introduced to our community at a public celebration and ceremony.

For those who had been following the artists’ progress through July and August, it was a chance to meet the creators and learn about images depicted on the 110-foot Centennial Plaza wall facing Port Union Community Centre. Like the Rouge River itself, the mural flows from past to present, north to south, and traces three periods in area history as it winds toward scenes of Port Union and the Lake Ontario waterfront.

A well-attended opening in front of the mural was highlighted by a smudge ceremony with Patrick Nadjiwon, Aboriginal lecturer and educator from The Three Sisters House. Patrick spoke about the long history of Iroquoians in the Rouge Valley that are depicted on the north end of the mural. He described their use of the river for farming, fishing, trade and settlement until the arrival of European settlers.

Appreciative attendees also enjoyed a brief history of Port Union presented by Richard Schofield, historian and head archivist at the Scarborough Archives. Also in attendance were Scarborough-Rouge River MP Gary Anandasangaree, who presented certificates for contributions to the project, and Pickering-Scarborough East MPP Tracy MacCharles.

Although the mural concept came from community, design was carefully researched and crafted by lead artist Allan Bender at Blinc Studios. He spoke warmly about working at the Lawrence Avenue plaza and wanted to thank the entire neighbourhood for a very pleasant and encouraging experience. Bender introduced his hard-working team of experienced and apprentice artists: John Nobrega, Azadeh Pirazimian, Jesse McCuaig, Chris Brown, Frances Potts and Melissa Bessey.

Bender and his team showed dedication to a project whose impact will grow as it becomes a familiar part of our streetscape. Theirs is the story of how one summer in Centennial transformed a graffiti-tagged wall into a space of reflection and reminder of a rich local heritage.

Although the painting is completed, CCRA will continue to raise funds for maintenance so that the mural can be quickly repaired and restored if there is damage due to accident or vandalism. If you would like to donate to the upkeep of our new community mural, please click on the donation link at www.ccranews.com/mural_project.html or email news4ccra@gmail.com to find out how you can help.

The Port Union-Rouge Park mural is a partnership project of CCRA and Scarborough-based arts organization Mural Routes, which has been improving Toronto communities since 1990 with mural art. Partial funding for the project came from the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto partnership program.

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