Want to be part of a national art project? An artist who is travelling across Canada for his latest project is in Winnipeg and he wants you to help him out. 

Montreal-based Aquil Virani is gathering stories and drawings for his "Canada's Self Portrait" project.

"We get people to fill out a handout we've prepared," he told guest host Ismaila Alfa on CBC Manitoba's Information Radio.

"It says describe Canada in one word. What does being Canadian mean to you? And at the bottom, there's a little spot to sketch what it means to be Canadian... to draw a little doodle of whatever Canada means to you.

"You have a lot of the themes that you might expect about Canadian identity. Things about the beautiful nature that surrounds us and envelops us ... You have things like Canadian maple leafs, hockey sticks."

Ismaila Alfa's drawing

When CBC's Ismaila Alfa came to Canada from Nigeria, evergreen trees and the connection Canadians shared with the land, water and sky stood out to him, which is what inspired his contribution to the Canada Self-Portrait project. (Ismaila Alfa)

The CBC's Ismaila Alfa contributed to the project. He drew evergreens, which he said he found himself drawing frequently when he first moved to Canada from Nigeria. 

When it comes to words that participants have offered up, Virani said, "One thing that comes out a lot is the word 'diverse,' celebrating the multiculturalism. We have ‘big,’ Canada is very big."

Virani has been in Winnipeg with his partner Rebecca Jones since Monday. He describes his time in Winnipeg so far as magical and he said the city is more artsy than he expected.

Rebecca Aquil Virani

Aquil Virani and his partner Rebecca started their travels in St. John's NL and are going across Canada gathering impressions from Canadians on what it means to be Canadian. (Ruth Shead)

The duo started their travels in St. John's, NL and are continuing through to Victoria, B.C.

"We would have expected and have been validated in our thought that Canada is very open, accepting, welcoming." 

He has received submissions from Canadians aged three to 77, and from people of all cultures, faiths, and occupations. He said some members of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet have even participated.

Once all of the sketches are collected, Virani will compile everything and reproduce it as a giant mural.

"What I like to say is that I'm kind of like the maestro or the conductor if you will. We have a lot of individual voices and individual interpretations of what it means to be Canadian, and I'm putting them together in one artistic style."

You can follow his journey and be part of the project by going to his website:www.aquil.ca/canada