UBC Okanagan students set up three large canvases in downtown Kelowna, B.C. on Saturday to find out what people think about some of life's big questions. 

For the Canvas Project, the students asked passersby:

  • Where do you consider home?
  • What's something you cherish most?
  • What's something that disappoints you most?

"The objective of it is to show that even though we're from different backgrounds, and there's a heck of a lot of diversity, it's the things that keep us together, our desires and our needs that are actually very similar," student Laurence Watt, one of the organizers, told Radio West host Rebecca Zandbergen.

The students tried the project out on their campus first. Stella Mozin, another organizer, says on-campus efforts to ask those questions yielded universal answers.

"When it comes to 'what do you cherish the most?' a lot of people put down … good health care, wanting to have your family healthy, just wanting to have food on the table," she said.

"And when it comes to what saddens you, it's racism, it's war, it's conflicts that we have going on, and it's what everybody fears."

Downtown Kelowna event a 'tremendous success'

After the Canvas Project wrapped up in downtown Kelowna, Watt called the event a "tremendous success" with up to 20 people at one point gathered around the canvasses writing their answers.

Canvas Project child

A young child (with a little direction) answers the question, "what something that disappoints you most?" (Laurence Watt)

He said that he saw many of the same answers on the downtown canvasses as he did on the campus ones, which he described as "reassuring."

"It's no secret that at any university campus in Canada, the political view is quite liberal, quite left-wing," he said. "And when you go into a community like Kelowna, which for the past few decades has been predominantly conservative … even though that might be the case, their answers were still similar."

"The reason for this exercise was to show, yes, we're from different places, yes, we're from different backgrounds, however, it's the things we cherish, it's the things we're disappointed by, that show we are actually much more similar than we are different."

Watt said he will be writing an analysis of the event for the Phoenix, UBC Okanagan's student newspaper, and might host a similar series of events later in the year.


To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Canvas Project in Kelowna finds universal answers to big questions

With files from Liam Britten